A divorce is a major change in your life, and it can affect everything from how you manage your schedule to who you call if your car breaks down. These small and large changes can increase stress during and after divorce as you seek to move forward with life. Working with the right team of professionals can help smooth the path from here to the other side of your divorce. Here are the pros to consider making a part of your team.
Lawyers: Family Law and Otherwise
Divorce is a legal process, but you don’t always need a family law attorney to get you through the dissolution of marriage. In fact, if you’re able to go through an amicable divorce, then you can divorce without an attorney, via an online divorce (read more about online divorce).
Here are the lawyers you might need, depending on the specifics of your situation:
- Family law attorney: Your family lawyer can help you navigate contested issues in your divorce, such as child custody, alimony, and division of property. If your divorce is highly contentious, involves a history of abuse, or includes complex assets, you’ll probably need a family law lawyer.
- Estate or tax attorney: Divorce can change your finances, including by affecting inheritance and tax liabilities. An estate lawyer can help you create a new will, ensure power of attorney designations are updated or create a health care proxy form designating someone to make decisions for you if you’re ever incapacitated. A tax lawyer can help you manage your tax burden, particularly if you and your ex have tax debt.
CPAs and Other Financial Professionals
Not everyone needs a finance professional during a divorce, but it’s always a good idea to get your money matters in some order before or as soon after a divorce as possible. At the very least, it’s critical to go through the divorce process with a clear understanding of your finances, especially if you’re filing for divorce online yourself.
If you have a complex financial situation, such as owning your own business, you might want to talk to a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, about the best steps to take given any money changes that might occur during your divorce. An experienced CPA can provide guidance about how to protect both your business and personal finances.
After divorce, it’s time to start anew, and one of the best ways to do that is to get healthier financially. You might consider speaking with an investment broker or financial adviser about how to begin wealth building for yourself and any dependents.
Choose financial professionals who:
- Are certified in their niche
- Have a good reputation
- Have never been in legal trouble, particularly regarding financial regulations
- Have a proven track record. When dealing with investment professionals, ask for portfolio examples and proof of success
Counselors or Therapist
Even if you’re considering a filing for a divorce online, having the right support system in place and relying on experienced guidance and easy-to-use calculators and templates makes a big difference. For some families, additional support in the form of therapy or counseling can also help a great deal.
Many people avoid seeking professional assistance in this area because they believe it makes them seem weak or broken — they think they can handle it all on their own. In reality, therapy during a divorce might help you maintain your strength. It gives you an unrelated third party who you can open up to without worrying about the impact on your family or social situation. The ability to talk out your fears, frustrations, and problems in a confidential and supportive place can also help you make better decisions about the divorce since you might be less apt to react with only emotion. Counseling can be a boon to someone who is going through an online divorce.
Even if you don’t think therapy is for you, you might consider whether your children would benefit from talking to someone. Even during an amicable divorce, children can be confused, feel something was their fault or be sad or depressed about the sudden change in their lives. Kids won’t always talk right away to parents who are divorcing, especially if they’re angry with you regarding the situation. Providing them with a safe outlet can help them get through the divorce easier and understand that life will still go on and that they can continue to enjoy it.
Choose a therapist who:
- Is licensed
- Has experience in family therapy, or if working with your child, has extensive experience with kids
- Has a good reputation. Try asking people you trust, such as a pediatrician or family friends
A mediator is someone who is trained to work with both sides to help them come to an agreement. In divorce cases, mediators can help couples come to terms on matters such as child support, visitation schedules, alimony or property division without going through court. Often, the mediator is a lawyer with experience in family law matters, though they don’t act as an attorney for either party when providing mediation services.
Mediation can be a great option if you’ve come to a standstill in your online divorce process because you just can’t agree on something. If you’re still willing to work together on the divorce but can’t see a way past your disagreement, reaching out to a mediator can often help you build the bridge that gets your divorce moving again. It also lets you work with a third party on a resolution without creating the public record that would be associated with any court filings. While there are some rules for mediation, they are relatively basic and much less stringent than the regulations courts must follow when making decisions. Going through mediation lets
If you decide on mediation, choose a professional who:
- Has a background in mediation and family law
- Isn’t representing either you or your spouse on any matter
- Has a reputation for being fair and balanced
Babysitters or Childcare Providers
As any parent knows, a good babysitter is invaluable before and during divorce. A babysitter can keep the kids engaged and happy as you review paperwork, take some quiet time It’s understandable that you might want to devote extra attention to your children before and during divorce, but carving out a little time for yourself can help to reduce stress. Babysitters are also good to have after a divorce; eventually, you might want to explore social options or even date again. Having a regular sitter your children know helps them face the changes that are happening in their lives.
Choose a sitter who:
- You already know, if at all possible
- Is supported by recommendations
- Has appropriate training or certifications, such as child CPR
After the divorce, childcare may be a new consideration for you. If you or your spouse stayed home with the kids previously, that might no longer be possible. To support two separate households, you might both need to work. When looking for a childcare provider, take your time and don’t plan based on emotions. Ask to tour local provider facilities, and talk to friends about recommendations. Choose a facility where you believe your child will be cared for and safe.
Choose childcare facilities that:
- Are certified
- Support transparent relationships with parents
- Let you tour their space
- Provide a comfortable, safe and educational space for your child
Real Estate Agents
In the event, you and your spouse decide to sell your existing home — or you are ready to lease or buy a new home during or after your divorce — you might want to rely on a good real estate agent.
When choosing a real estate agent, look for:
- Seasoned pros who can take your needs and desires for a home and put them into action
- Agents familiar with your area
- Someone who is willing to meet at times that fit your schedule
Speaking of new homes, at some point before, during or after your divorce, one or both of you is probably going to need to move. Once you’ve gone through the process of divvying up your stuff, professional movers make it easy to get said stuff into a new location. Because you might be leaning on friends and family for other support, movers can be an easy way to give everyone a break from another job.
Choose a moving company who:
- Has clean, professional staff
- Provides its own fleet of moving trucks in good working condition
- Are affordable for the move you’re making — some companies charge more for additional boxes or miles
- Have good reviews online
Other Professionals for Your New Life
Other types of professionals you might want to touch base with as you create a new life and move into a new home after divorce can include lawn care providers, cleaning services and mechanics, as well as appliance repair, pest control, and insurance agents. It’s fine to use providers you used as a couple when it comes to these types of services, but you might find yourself in need of services you didn't need when you were married. As a couple, it’s easier to manage work/life balance and still get the lawn mowed regularly, for example. Once you're single, that balance is harder to maintain, especially if you have children.
Some situations in which you might want to seek brand-new service providers include:
- When the service provider is related to or close friends with your spouse, and you think the past relationship will color the new professional relationship
- You weren’t happy with the service provider during your marriage, and it was your spouse’s decision to keep the relationship (now that you’re single, you make those decisions for yourself)
- You can’t afford the service provider, or the type of services are no longer relevant to your situation
Moving on With a Little Help from Friends — and Others
Does everyone need all these pros to help them get through divorce and manage life on the other side? No, of course not. You may find you don’t require assistance from any of these service providers. However, it’s important to know that help can come from all types of places, and when you’re going through a divorce, there’s nothing wrong with understanding all your options.
Don’t be afraid to build a strong support structure with family and friends, and when you can, consider delegating some things to pros who can get the job done quickly and take some stress away from you.