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Can I come through my divorce unscathed?

You've had the arguments and been through the counseling. It's now apparent that this marriage is dead in the water. Learn how to extricate yourself and your children from a bad marriage with the least amount of pain possible.

Gather your documents.

You will need copies of every financial document, including tax returns. If you are moving out, make sure to make copies while you still have access.

Retain legal representation.

Even "friendly" divorces should be overseen by competent legal counsel hired by both spouses. You may find that you can mediate your divorce amicably, but your attorney should still review all agreements and orders before they are signed and filed to make sure that you are getting a fair deal.

Ask your attorney for referrals.

You and the kids may discover that the divorce is difficult to adjust to. If you or they are having trouble coping with the new normal, ask your attorney for a referral to a family or individual counselor to help you get over the rough patches.

Untangle your finances.

Between your joint savings and checking accounts, retirement benefits and investments, you will come to realize how enmeshed your and your spouse's financial lives really are. All that must be separated in divorce. A good place to start is by closing out the joint checking accounts and opening up separate ones. The other matters may have to wait until the property settlement gets hashed out.

Bills will have to be divided as well. Make a list of the bills you have jointly and try to determine who will be responsible for which ones. Remember that creditors don't honor the agreements you make between yourselves in a divorce and will still hound you for unpaid bills unless your name is removed from the account and the liability.

Be smart about assets.

Sure, you want to hold onto the family home, especially if the children are still minors. But keep in mind that the trade-off could be steep. Don't hold onto property you'll struggle to maintain in lieu of holding onto a lucrative share of a 401(k) account.

Talk to the kids together.

If the two of you are fighting over custody matters, the kids will be the ones who suffer most. Do all that you can to reach accord on this issue, as otherwise the court will step in make its ruling.

Source: Prevention.com, "The Beginner's Guide To Divorce, From Someone Who's Been Through One," Adriana Velez, accessed June 16, 2017

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