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10 Prep Steps A Divorce Coach Says You Should Take Before You Split

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10 Prep Steps A Divorce Coach Says You Should Take Before You Split

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Marriage is hardfor everyone. Whether you marry your high school sweetheart or someone you met at a bar, you’ll face challenges. For some people, those challenges won’t be worth the fight. Or perhaps they seemed conquerable at first, but you eventually realized things weren’t going to change. So, now you want out, but you fear divorce will be the absolute hardest part of your marriage journey. According to a divorce expert on TikTok, one thing can make a world of difference: prep work.

“First and foremost, I would be doing my f*cking homework while I was still married,” begins Samantha Boss, a divorce “concierge” and mediator who coaches parents through high-conflict divorces. And she’s the first to admit her expertise in this field is both professional and personal: “You’re gonna notice that this is the complete opposite of what I did in 2008.”

Boss, who routinely posts divorce and custody tips, goes on to break down the exact prep work steps she recommends.

1. Know Your Finances

First up? “I would start paying attention to bills,” says Boss. “I would wanna know what assets we have, what debts we have: What money is coming in, what money is going out, and where the f*ck it’s going.”

Although Boss knows that haters will claim this initial advice proves she’s money-hungry when it comes to divorce, she’s quick to point out that it’s purely practical — finances are the first thing a divorce attorney will ask about when you meet with them.

Even if you don’t want a penny from your soon-to-be-ex, knowing your finances can go a long way towards proving things like financial incompatibility or infidelity. And, yes, knowing your financial outlook may help a lawyer determine whether or not you should be requesting alimony, whether you want to or not.

2. Document, Document, Document

Step two, as suggested by Boss: “Documenting the sh*t out of everything that’s going on in the household.” That may include things like “who’s coming, who’s going, where the kids are at, who’s doing the ‘pre-stuff’ before school, who’s the stuff after school.”

Essentially, it’s just tracking the flow of responsibilities in the house.

Notes like this will help whether your divorce turns petty (in which case, you’ll have documented proof to back up whatever point you’re trying to make) or you’re both just trying to keep things fair (maybe it’s clear your partner should have more time with your kid during soccer season since they’re so hands-on then).

3. Take a Parenting Class

When you’re a parent headed for divorce, the way you parent will naturally change. You’ll have to work around your former partner within entirely different parameters. So, Boss suggests taking a parenting class to “figure out what a parenting plan is.”

Divorce attorneys ask a lot of co-parenting questions in those initial meetings, like:

  • What kind of visitation schedule are you looking at?
  • What will you do for vacations?
  • What are you doing over the holidays?
  • Who’s covering medical costs?

In preparation, explains Boss, “I’m gonna make sure that I really educate myself on what it is that my attorney is going to be asking in that meeting.”

4. Draft Your Parenting Plan

That last step leads directly into the next: drafting a parenting plan, which Boss recommends having planned out prior to ever meeting with a divorce attorney.

“I want to use my ideas that I learned from the parenting workshop to go to them and say, ‘Hey, I wrote some things down to save time. I want you to look this over. This is the level of detail I want. This is the level of responsibility I want each of us to have. Do you support a document like this?'”

5. Find the Right Attorney

OK, so this sounds obvious. But Boss emphasizes that finding the right attorney isn’t a one-and-done situation. You should research attorneys that fit your specific needs, whether you have a child with disabilities or are a military family — whatever it is that makes your situation and subsequent co-parenting plan unique.

This may involve going around “from attorney to attorney to attorney” until you find one that supports your needs.

6. Muster Your Troops

Boss recommends gathering friends and family around you and sharing your plans with them. Having a “support staff” who knows how to comfort you properly when you’re stressed or emotional — or even people who can speak on your behalf should that need to happen — is vital.

7. Have a Backup Plan for Your Backup Plan

You know what they say about the best-laid plans! With divorce, you should always expect to make a few hard pivots. “Let’s say that when I do tell my spouse that I want a divorce, they go postal,” says Boss. “I wanna have a backup plan of where can I go, where can I and the kids go if sh*t goes south?”

A hotel? A friend’s house? A family member’s home? Sam says to figure all of that out before you ever breathe a word of your plans to your spouse.

8. Have the Conversation

When you’re finally ready to tell your spouse you want a divorce, Boss says you need to make sure your kids are somewhere else. She suggests having a friend call and check in on you in 30-40 minutes, hopefully allowing the two of you enough time to process while still giving someone time to get to you if your ex does go postal.

As for the conversation itself, Boss recommends having “pre-thought the conversation out” so you have talking points for your spouse’s potential responses. However, she strongly encourages keeping dialogue simple: “I’m saying one or two things. That’s it. And silence will get you a lot. Just sit with it. Just give the information and let them sit with it.”

9. Expect Pushback (But Don’t Engage)

Sam says you shouldn’t expect agreement. It’s doubtful you’ll share your thoughts and get a partner excited about a divorce and custody battle. Letting your soon-to-be-ex safely vent is important, but now is not the time to justify or engage. Most likely, the signs and conversations about your unhappiness have already taken place — they know why you want to leave; they just didn’t expect you to actually leave.

10. Start Planning

Boss wants you to learn from her mistakes. When she filed for divorce, she focused all of her concerns on the conversation with her then-partner and how others might perceive her divorce.

“I planned nothing, knew nothing, didn’t educate myself about sh*t, and it showed… and I paid the price for that,” she shares, adding, “Don’t be me. Get an education and prepare yourself, OK?”

In other words, the prep you put into your divorce plays a massive part in how seamless the transition out of your marriage is.

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