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5 things to do when you want a divorce

You may only be in your early 30s, but you want a divorce. The marriage just isn't working out. Maybe you suspect your spouse isn't being faithful, maybe you're always fighting, or maybe there's a fundamental difference that is going to drive you apart -- your spouse doesn't want kids, for instance, but you do.

Ultimately, you feel like the reason for the divorce is unimportant. What is important is understanding your legal rights and how to proceed. You've never done this before and you don't want to make any mistakes. Below are five things you should do:

1. Find out exactly what your income looks like.

Maybe your spouse deals with money and you never really worry about it. You work, so you know what you make, but you just have a vague idea of what your spouse makes. If so, learn more quickly. It's going to be very important when deciding how to divide up assets. If you know what your spouse has, it's harder for him or her to hide assets and you know things are being done honestly and fairly.

2. Look into your total debt load.

Income may not be all that you're dividing. Did you take out any student loans and go back to school during the marriage? How much debt is on your credit cards? Do you own your home and your car, or are you still paying them off? Not only do you need to know what debt you may be obligated to take, but this helps you decide how to approach high-value items. For instance, many couples sell the home so neither one carries that debt alone.

3. Make a plan for future support and spending.

Splitting up means you now have to fully support yourself. It's wise to budget with only one income and find out what this looks like. How much you earn can determine where you'll live and what type of resolution you'd like during the divorce. For instance, you may actually want to buy your spouse out and keep the house, but you need to know if that's affordable.

4. Protect yourself.

It may be wise to remove any personal property from the house, such as sentimental items and family heirlooms. It can also be wise to cancel joint credit cards and other such accounts, especially if you don't know how your spouse will react.

5. Decide how to break the news.

You don't have kids, so that simplifies this process, but you still want to take time to think about how to break the news to your spouse. Plan carefully and don't just act rashly -- even if you're angry or frustrated. How you break the news can help determine how the process plays out and how well you and your spouse can work together toward a resolution.

These are just five steps of many that you'll need to take. Be sure you know your legal rights and that you have a firm grasp on the divorce process.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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