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5 things you can do now to make your split go smoothly

Breaking up is never in the plan, but still, it can happen. You and your spouse do not have much in common, and you have found yourselves drifting apart over the years.

You believe separation is in the cards, you just may not know how to proceed. When both spouses agree that divorce is the best solution, they should start getting things together in advance of formal proceedings. Here is a list of five things you can do now to prepare for a smoother dissolution.

1. Agree on custody and visitation

When a couple with children divorce, emotions run high, and most of those emotions do not necessarily pertain to the children. If you and your spouse can reach an agreement on custody and visitation, you may avoid a very dividing element of the process.

2. Divide the property

A tough hurdle to overcome is property division. If you and your spouse can agree on personal items, cash, retirement accounts and housing, it would make things easier to handle.

3. Talk about the timing

The timing of your separation and divorce is important. Is there a large family event coming up? You want to avoid making too many waves prior to formal separation so as not to allow too many negative opinions alter your decisions.

4. Tell the children together

You should tell your children about your plans. Doing so will greatly reduce the impact to them later and stop another family member or friend from "letting it slip."

5. Hire an attorney

Hire an attorney as soon as possible. She or he will draft your agreement and file it with the court. A lawyer will also guide you through other elements you may not know about.

Remember that nothing you agree on prior to filing a petition is legal. Some spouses may change their minds as the process and the noise from the outside world goes forward. Do your best to limit your interaction with those who may negatively impact your plan.

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