Take these important steps when getting divorced

You're getting divorced, and you want to make sure you know exactly what to do both during and after the divorce. You understand that people make a lot of avoidable mistakes, and you know that these can impact the rest of your life. Your top goal is to avoid these issues and make the process go smoothly, planning for your future.

With that in mind, here are a few important steps to take:

1. Never involve your children in unnecessary ways

Your children absolutely factor into this divorce process, but you want to keep them on the sidelines as much as possible. Do not try to use them as bargaining chips with your spouse, for instance. Do not give them messages for your spouse -- or your ex -- if the two of you are no longer on speaking terms. Do not blame them for the end of the marriage. With every decision that you make, think about the potential impact on the kids and focus on their best interests.

2. Cancel your joint credit cards

Dividing debt can get complicated during a divorce, and it only gets worse if you keep using joint credit cards after you separate. In some cases, your spouse may even try to take advantage of you and add a lot of unneeded debt to the account. To avoid these issues and keep things as simple as possible, close out those joint accounts and start a personal account for yourself.

3. Cancel other financial accounts

While doing away with your joint credit cards, consider other financial accounts that you may hold together. These could include things like life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement funds, investment portfolios and the like.

4. If you keep the house, change the locks

You may not end up keeping your house. In some cases, the best move is to sell it so that you and your ex can split the money. However, especially in cases involving kids, you may want to keep it so that they don't have to move. If you do, take the time to change the locks once the home is in your name alone. You need to know that you have the only copies of the keys, even if you and your ex seem to be on good terms.

5. Never put emotion over logic

You may feel emotional and angry during the divorce. While that's natural, do not take it out in court. Don't try to "get back at" your ex. Don't make decisions based on emotion, rather than logic and reason.

Instead, take the time to learn about your rights and the legal options you have. Then you can work toward creating a bright future.

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