[Guide] How to Plan and Prepare to Leave Your Husband

By:
Michael Tierney
Updated
August 14, 2022

Divorce and separation are not decisions that couples make lightly. A great deal of consideration and forethought goes into both decisions before either can be made safely. When you've decided that it is time to leave your husband, it's likely because you have reached differences in the relationship that cannot be mended. Such disagreements are not uncommon in modern marriages, but that does not make the reality of dealing with legal separation any less daunting.

While you might be ready to leave emotionally or psychologically, there might be a few concerns you have not yet considered. There may come a time when you will have to sell or split up your belongings, such as your house, cars, bank accounts, and other critical assets. Gathering documentation and evidence, if required, is something that you should start doing earlier rather than later. Before you can begin the process of legal separation from your husband, you will need to prepare yourself.

Your relationship with your husband might have deteriorated to the point where staying can cause more harm than good. However, you must take care not to rush into leaving and take measures to prepare for the reality of life without them. Not that your husband will necessarily be out of your life completely, especially if you have kids. Still, for the most part, you will be living independently from him. This means you will not have access to as many resources as you had while married to him and will need to prepare yourself for that independence.

Solution These major life decisions can be scary, and being well-prepared will help you.

Let's get started!

Step #1: Determine if You Need to be Subtle

While about half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce, not all of them are as simple as serving papers to your husband. There have been instances where it becomes necessary to exercise discretion when separating from your husband. There can be several reasons for your need to be subtle when preparing to leave your husband. Unfortunately, almost none of them are pleasant and could leave you in jeopardy if you do not make a hasty exit from the relationship.

Despite some urgency in your efforts to separate from your husband, you still cannot rush things if you want to land on your feet when all is said and done.

Woman Making a Decision

If you are in a situation where you need to go behind your husband's back when preparing to leave him, you will likely need some help. You will still need to follow all the steps in this article without alerting your husband to your activities. This can be a challenge if your husband is the sort of man who insists on knowing what you are doing at any given point in the day. Often, you will need friends or family to support and cover for you when you are going out to keep appointments for the separation.

Subtlety is likely only going to be necessary for a worst-case scenario. If your husband is controlling or abusive, going behind his back is a matter of safety. We realize that a marriage of this nature is horrible to be in and that your desire to separate from your husband comes from a place of concern. While you might find yourself sneaking around to emancipate yourself, you will still need to prepare in more mundane ways.

Step #2: Open a Separate Bank Account

When you are married, you get used to sharing finances with your husband. This is common practice since marriage is a partnership, and you cooperate with your spouse financially. When the marriage ends, and divorce looms, you will return to your independent financial status. Depending on the exact circumstances of your divorce, you might receive spousal support from your husband down the line. However, this is dependent on how the divorce proceeds. Regardless of any potential financial support, you will need to prepare yourself for the reality of managing your finances again.

Opening a Bank Account

Re-establishing your financial independence is not something you necessarily need to practice. After all, you likely spent a fair portion of your life managing your own funds before you got married.

Solution While you are likely comfortable returning to being independent financially, one of the first things that you will need is a new bank account to manage any funds you are granted.

While fewer married couples are creating joint accounts, you might be among the demographic that shares funds. If you did create a joint account with your husband, you would no longer be able to access the funds once the divorce is finalized. Opening a new bank account before the proceedings are complete will allow you to have a place to save funds and prepare for life without the income your husband might generate.

The sooner you have a private account, the more effectively you can return to a fully independent lifestyle after the divorce. While a separate bank account is an excellent way to prepare for life after divorce, there is still more you will need to do.

Step #3: Contact a Divorce Attorney

Navigating a court of law as a citizen is difficult since the legal system is extremely complicated. While divorce might seem straightforward from an outside perspective, it is one of the world's most challenging and frustrating legal proceedings. Divorce law often deteriorates into petty squabbles depending on your relationship with your husband, and finding common ground for negotiations can be impossible. This is why the average person retains the services of a divorce attorney to represent them during the divorce proceedings.

While you have the right to forgo legal counsel and represent yourself in divorce, you might find it too complicated to manage alone. There are countless legal terms and loopholes that you might be unfamiliar with that could cost you in the negotiations. Attempting to represent yourself in a divorce when you are not trained in the particulars of the legal system could severely backfire. However, hiring a divorce attorney allows you to enjoy high-quality representation, so you can rest assured you will not be railroaded in the divorce.

Speaking with a Divorce Attorney

While retaining a divorce attorney is a good idea, you should not simply hire the first attorney you meet. It is in your best interest to shop around and consult with some of the highest-rated attorneys in your area. Meeting with multiple attorneys to determine which one is best for your case has a two-fold effect:

  1. It allows you to identify an attorney who is professional and qualified to handle your case in all circumstances.
  2. After you consult with an attorney, the information you provided becomes privileged, and your husband will be unable to retain the rejected attorneys themselves. An attorney you consulted with cannot represent your husband as it presents a conflict of interest.

While you are not obligated to retain the services of a divorce attorney, it can be important to ensure a successful claim. Additionally, your attorney can serve any relevant paperwork on your behalf and spearhead the negotiations. Retaining an attorney is not the last thing you must do to prepare for divorce. There are still a few more steps to ensure everything goes well.

Step #4: Gather Documentation

Like most legal claims, divorce law is not decided by word of mouth. The judge presiding over the divorce will not decide based on emotion if it gets that far.

Solution They will require evidence supporting the divorce in your best interest. While many divorces result from the relationship deteriorating to the point where you and your spouse are no longer emotionally invested in each other, facts will still dictate the outcome. There are several important documents and details to note before the divorce proceedings begin.

When preparing for a divorce or separation, keeping records or copies of text messages or e-mail correspondence between you and your husband is a good idea. While some messages are trivial, the information could be a major boon to your case. You could use the correspondence to show examples of deception or abusive behavior that you overlooked due to your commitment to the marriage. However, the messages can also be advantageous when trying to catch your husband in a lie during the divorce negotiations.

Woman Gathering Documentation

For example, if your husband was having an affair and claimed to be somewhere while he was with his mistress, the texts can illuminate that deception. You can use e-mail correspondence and paper letters to accomplish the same goals. That said, you must save copies of all suspect correspondence since your husband could easily delete his copies, and divorce cases do not permit forensic analysis of your husband's phone unless he is suspected of criminal activity.

Documentation can certainly help protect your interests when the divorce is underway. However, there is still one last step you will need to take to prepare yourself for leaving your husband fully.

Step #5: Work Out the Logistics

While most of the information discussed here is geared towards preparing you for the legal side of divorce, there are practical details to consider. When trying to leave your marriage, it is important to sort out the logistics involved with living independently. After all, before you start the divorce proceedings, you need to have somewhere to go while you try to get back on your feet. You must consider several factors before serving the papers to your husband and moving out of the house. The most important is where you will be living instead, so you have a roof over your head and a place for relevant correspondence to be delivered.

You will need to plan where to stay until the divorce is finalized. You do not need to purchase a new residence and can temporarily move in with a friend or family member. If the friend or relative agrees to host you through the divorce process, you can use their home as a place to rest and recover without having to worry about running afoul of your husband throughout the process. If you are not comfortable having your private correspondence sent to a location where your friend or family can access it, you will need to consider renting a P.O. box for your mail.

Woman Packing Up Belongings

You will also need to set aside time to pack your belongings. When preparing for a divorce, it can be difficult to be able to pack when you are already dealing with so many new disruptions to your daily life. Figuring out when to pack and what needs to come with you immediately is critical. Taking certain valuables that do not explicitly belong to you could compromise your case, so only packing the essentials is the best course of action.

Putting together a list of what you need and ensuring everything is packed ahead of your planned exit will help make things easier.

Learn the Law

Divorce is the unfortunate counterpart of marriage that affects more couples than most hope. While sometimes divorce is necessary to ensure a happy life, it does not make the process any easier. Divorce is trying on an emotional and psychological level and can profoundly affect your future relationships. However, when it comes time to separate from your husband when divorce is imminent, being prepared is always in your best interest.

While we know this is a difficult time for you, being aware of the dos and don'ts of moving out can help the situation go a little smoother than it would in a spur-of-the-moment departure. Surviving a divorce often requires you to learn as much as possible, so you do not wind up in a more complicated situation.

Leaving a Marriage

Once upon a time, such information was exclusively available to legal students or professionals with access to law libraries. Fortunately, that is no longer the case, as a large portion of the relevant information is now available to the average citizen. While you will not become a legal expert by researching the details of divorce law, you can learn important information that can brace you for the reality of the divorce process. We know that the journey of leaving your husband is a grueling one and that you might be more than a little frightened. We only hope that the information provided here can help you make that journey with a little more certainty.

Written By:
Michael Tierney
Michael is a legal writer and graduate of WSU. Prior to becoming a legal writer, he had 6 years of experience as a legal assistant and office manager for a family law attorney. He's written about numerous legal subjects from helping spouses who are stuck in toxic situations to the intricacies of custody battles. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and building custom keyboards.

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