Rarely does someone wake up one day and say, "I think I'll get a divorce." Divorces can get ugly even when the nicest people are involved. Making the right preparations ahead of time will make your divorce go more smoothly. If divorce is on your mind, take some time to plan it out and do it right.
If you are unhappily married, confide in a few close, trusted friends or family members about your plans for a divorce. Get a support system in place. You may need somewhere to stay or someone to help you if things get ugly. You will need moral support to get through this difficult time.
Educate yourself on the laws for filing for divorce, alimony, property division and child support in your state. Know what you are entitled to and how you will fare financially after the divorce. Do your research on a computer that your spouse does not have access to, such as at the library, a friend's or relative's house, or at work.
If you have not already done so, start putting some money in your own name. Either keep some cash at work or a friend's house, or open a bank account in your name only. Add a little money to your "stash" every week, as discreetly as possible. You may need some money that your spouse does not have access to.
Make copies of important papers such as tax returns, bank statements, retirement accounts, car titles, credit card statements and other documents that show your assets. Keep these papers in a place that your spouse does not have access to, such as a friend's house, your workplace or a safe deposit box. You must take proactive steps to protect your interests and gather documentation.
If children are involved, consider who they will live with. It is best to have this issue thought out before you discuss child custody, child support and living arrangements with your spouse.
Find a good divorce lawyer. Ask around for referrals. Interview different divorce lawyers and make sure you find one you like and are comfortable with. Your attorney will be your new best friend once you file for divorce, so make sure it is someone that you can work closely with.
Contact your lawyer either by email or phone. If by email, open a new email account (Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) just for this purpose, and do not access it from home. If making contact by phone, use a phone that your spouse does not have access to. You don't want your spouse to see a strange number on the caller ID or phone bill.
When you are ready, tell your spouse about your plans for a divorce, in a neutral or public place. Approach the issue in a matter-of-fact way, and try not to be emotional. Do not involve your children, friends or relatives in the divorce conversations.