Step-by-Step Guide to Planning, Executing and Surviving Your Mesa Arizona Divorce

A practical guide to navigating your breakup

By Billie Tarascio

This guide departs from what you need to be concerned about legally and is a practical guide for consideration and steps to take if you are going through a divorce or separation. Most of this information is general to wherever you are located geographically, but we have tried to gather a list of specific resources for divorce in Mesa, Arizona or in the Phoenix East Valley you may need if you are facing a divorce. If you are looking for a legal guide, check out Decode Your Divorce, a divorce guide customized to Arizona and Maricopa County.

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    Going through a divorce is a massive life changing event. It is a bigger transition than heading off to college or starting your career. It is most similar to transitioning to becoming a parent. The thing is, you have nine months and a million baby books to prepare you to become a parent. You have doctors’ visits, support groups, and step by step guidance as to what is happening and how you should prepare.

    Divorce is different. You don’t always have nine months to plan. Sometimes, you have no time to plan. You didn’t ask for this or you didn’t ask for the cataclysmic event that lead to your decision to get out now. This guide is a practical step by step instruction manual to help you anticipate problems, prevent disaster, and transition as peacefully as possible. At Modern Law, we have three undying, ever present values, whole health, growth, and COBE (compassion, optimism, bravery, and empathy). These values help us decide how to approach a case, how we treat our clients and opposing party’s, and how we suggest you move through your divorce plan in order to emerge a healthier, more beautiful, and better version of yourself. While all this philosophical optimism is wonderful, you still have a massive amount of work and decisions to make. Wherever possible, we have linked to a local person or business who can help you with this step!

    Gather all of the financial data and documents you need now!

    1. Health insurance coverage- if you need help/new coverage contact:
    2. Your estate planning documents- for help contact
    3. 24 months of credit card statements or at the very least a list of every outstanding card including department store cards
    4. 24 months of all bank account statements- if you need to open a new account, go see Lynn at Chase within Dana Park
    5. All the retirement account documents you can get your hands on– Go see my friend Shanna. She focuses on divorce investment strategies
    6. Life insurance policies
    7. Passports
    8. Social security cards
    9. Your children’s college fund accounts (529 accounts)

    Change your passwords

    It is astronomical how many passwords and usernames exist for the multitude of accounts we have online. Your ex will largely be able to track your life as long as they have the password to your accounts. Most of us use the same passwords for a large portion of accounts, so you will need to change all of them. Choose something completely different from your pattern up to this point. Pick the make and model of a vehicle, line in a random song, or a small town you want to visit coupled with the state or something. Go random and long. This is a list of places you may not have thought about for you to change your password.

    1. Email Accounts- do this first because as you reset your passwords, alerts will be coming to your account.
    2. Your Apple ID- also, if you don’t want your ex to know where you are at all times, turn off your location settings or “find my friends” setting.
    3. Your Netflix/Hulu/youtube red Account
    4. Your Amazon Account
    5. Bank Accounts
    6. Credit Card Accounts
    7. Retirement Accounts
    8. Facebook
    9. LinkedIn
    10. Twitter
    11. Pinterest
    12. Instagram
    13. Foursquare
    14. Yelp
    15. Mint
    16. Any other online shopping platforms- like your Old Navy, Nordstrom or Home Depot Account.
    Finding a place to live on short notice is tough
    Top tips and considerations below:
    1. When you need something now, your first consideration should be making sure there is enough space for you and your kids to be comfortable. You do NOT want to be in a position where you have limited your ability to have your kids as much as you would like due to space constraints.
    2. Downsize if you can. Your divorce is a GREAT opportunity to simplify and downsize your financial obligations if you can. Many people find their financial footprint has grown beyond what they are comfortable. If you were in a 3500 sq ft house on a half-acre with a pool, consider the freedom of downsizing to half the size with little yard and a community pool. A friend of mine recently decided to move into her 1700 sq foot rental property instead of staying in the large marital home with the great back yard. She liked the idea of simplifying and downsizing- and maybe saving $1000 per month or so in costs! You will spend less on your monthly rent or mortgage, less on utilities, and free up your time from the maintenance that comes from a large house. One of the most important things you can do during this time is to protect your financial resources! Too many people overextend themselves and end up needing to file for bankruptcy.
    1. Another tip in choosing a home/apartment/condo, private landlords tend to be more flexible with things like deposits. Apartment complexes DO NOT tend to be flexible. If you have the ability to spread those payments over time without interest, this is another way you can protect the cash you may need to set up your new home, pay your attorney, or pay for the counseling you and your children may need.
    2. Another issue when choosing a place to live is location! Can the location of your home simplify your life or are you signing up for a logistical nightmare. Sometimes this can’t be avoided. If you are moving in with your mom who lives 30 mins away, maybe the trade off of free rent and help with the kids is enough to offset the driving to school or the headache of switching schools. In general, it is usually better not to change your kids schools if you can avoid it. However, this is a very personal decision based on your kids, and the school, and your personal situation. If you are researching new schools check out this site. This is a list of Mesa schools by location. Deciding school and housing at the same time could have a massive impact on the simplicity and practicality of your move.
    3. Get the right legal advice! We have a whole chapter in Decode Your Divorce and an entire webinar here to help you hire the right divorce attorney. You are interviewing and looking for a good fit. Remember also, this isn’t all or nothing. You can get guidance and information while you navigate the process yourself. You can watch the video here on how to evaluate attorneys and know when to switch. Beyond getting the right legal advice, spend some time talking with your attorney about your goals, fears, and expectations. Ask your attorney to weigh in on a practical, although not necessarily legal, plan to get you what you are looking for. For instance, if it is very important for you to keep the house, we will need a plan to get your spouse out. We need to talk timing, expectations, and whether you can continue living together through the process.

    These are just a number of considerations when you are facing a divorce or separation in Mesa Arizona. The tips apply to wherever you are, but take advantage of the local recommendations and let them know that Modern Law promised they will take care of you.