A lot of the women we interviewed when we wrote "Love For Grown-Ups: The Garter Brides Guide to Marrying for Life When You Already Have a Life" were on their second or third marriages. They'd all been through a divorce or two and offered us some advice for women who were contemplating divorce. We aren't attorneys or legal advisers, we're just offering information from women who have learned -- in some cases, the hard way -- things to think about before you take this big step.
Get help when dividing property. If your divorce is not acrimonious, you might consider dividing assets with the help of a facilitator who is trained at handling these situations. You can probably find one located near you by checking online. It's a lot cheaper than paying an attorney's hourly fee, but it only works if you're both in agreement about what things you will each take from the marital pot.
Two lawyers are a must. If you go the lawyer route, you must have your own lawyer. You can't both use the same attorney; it's not permissible for one attorney to represent two people with different interests.
Be prepared for the first meeting with your attorney. Write a list of questions that you can refer to so you don't forget anything. What are the lawyer's fees? Will you be billed on an hourly rate or a flat fee for getting the divorce finalized? If there are no delays, how long will it take to finalize the divorce? In what time frame will you need to make payments?
Be sure to get the most out of that first appointment. Take a list of your assets (joint and solo) as well as your debts -- i.e. mortgage, college loans, etc. Don't forget to include your and his pension plans if you each have one, and the types of insurance you both carry. Also take a copy of your past two years' tax returns.
Don't be afraid to ask questions. It's your attorney and you should be able to ask him or her any questions pertaining to your situation without hesitation.
Consider all aspects of alimony and child support. If you're receiving alimony and it has a time limit, make sure it has a cost of living increase for each year. If you and your children are covered on your husband's medical plan, make sure that continues and make sure he contributes to their college educations. You should also be able to maintain a home for your children even if they are away at college.
Get advice from girlfriends who have been divorced. Often a friend who has "been there, done that" has some suggestions for you. The Garter Brides will tell you that it's always helpful to listen to friends' divorce experiences. It doesn't mean you have to follow their advice, but it's helpful to learn about it from someone who has been through the experience.
What ideas do you have that would help women who are contemplating divorce?
Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl and Tish Rabe are the authors of Love for Grown-ups: The Garter Brides' Guide to Marrying for Life When You've Already Got a Life, a relationship guide for women over 35 on how to find Mr. Right, marry and find life-long happiness. The Garter Brides are a sisterhood of women who got married later in life and wore the same garter at their weddings! They offer tried and true advice on how to have the love and life you want.