7 Things You Should Do NOW if Divorce Is Even a Remote Possibility

worried woman divorce

Almost every woman who's ever been married has had that low point where you wonder if your marriage is going to make it. For some of us, it's a temporary crisis, something that motivates us to work harder and smarter to save our union. For others, it's the first step to realizing a marriage's inevitable end. Either way, there's something very important you need to do at this point.

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Whether or not you get divorced, you need to think about what you want your life to look like in the future. Everyone needs to think about this, especially if you have children.

But if you have even the slightest inkling you may get divorced at some point, you need to do some serious planning. Keep in mind: Just because you follow these steps doesn't mean you're committing to divorce! These are smart things for any mom to do. It's just that your future will be in much better shape if you take them on now.

1. Think about what you want your future to look like. More specifically, what does it look like for you to take charge of your life? Where do you want to live, and how much money will you need to support yourself and your family? Will you be able to live with your parents while you get on your feet? Think about how your kids' needs will change as they get older. What do you want to be doing, day-in, day-out, 10 years from now?

2. Work toward a career. Don't expect to rely on spousal support, at least not after the first few years, and especially if you divorce while young. "The days of getting alimony forever are over," says certified financial planner Vickie Adams, who advises clients in divorce. If you've got a work-from-home gig or a part-time job now, think about the next step. "There's a difference between a job and a career," Adams says. "And nothing builds self worth like a good career."

What skills do you have? What could you improve? What are you interested in doing long-term? Who could help you? Update your skills and knowledge now. Take classes or get training. Have coffee with women who are working in the field you're interested in. Lay that groundwork.

3. Update your work wardrobe. Yes, really. It may seem frivolous, but it's an important way to prepare yourself to step into the next stage of your life. Buying new work clothes all at once before you've even earned your first paycheck is a costly mistake. So a pair of slacks here, a skirt there, a blazer -- it all adds up to savings down the road. Think about basics that will look good for years and keep an eye out for sales.

4. Take care of debts. Here's the thing about debt -- if those credit cards and loans are in both your names, you're both going to be responsible for them post-divorce, and they'll affect your credit score, too. Another thing to keep in mind: The court may award you the house, but you'll still have to find a way to make mortgage payments and pay for its upkeep and taxes.

That said, if your husband is racking up debt at an alarming rate (or is addicted to gambling or is otherwise hell-bent on financial ruin), "you need to leave now, before it gets any worse," Adams cautions. This is an exception to the plan first/leave later rule.

5. Start a savings account. "Stash cash, but don't hide it," Adams recommends. If you can, try to save up to six months' living expenses. But be transparent about it, because when a couple divorces, each of you has to disclose all of your assets, and the penalty for trying to hide money can be steep.

6. Prepare for what could go wrong. Talk with other divorced moms to find out what scenarios could realistically happen so you can prepare for them. "Don't be in denial. Be prepared," Adams says. "Don't ignore the possibility that your life circumstances will change."

7. Wrap your head around the idea that you can do this. We've got quite a daunting to-do list here! But remember, Adams says, "You are mighty. You can do this." That's your new mantra for 2015. And remember, you're not alone. This is something other moms do, and they come out all right. "It's not pretty and it's not easy," Adams says, "but it can be done."

Adams has a client who had a four-year plan. This stay-at-home mom knew when her son was 2 years old that her marriage wasn't going to make it. So she started taking courses and working toward getting her credentials in her profession. On her son's first day of kindergarten, she filed for divorce. She was employable, and she was ready for the next stage in her life.

Not everyone has four years to plot out their divorce plan. "But people do things like that," Adams says. What can you do today for your future?

Do you know other moms who transitioned successfully after their divorce?

 

Image via Andrzej Wilusz/Shutterstock

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