Divorce is often more difficult for women, particularly when it comes to finances. This is especially true when you give up a promising career to raise a family.

It is natural to feel alone and helpless during the divorce process. You can protect yourself, though, even if your spouse is in control of the family finances.

Preparing yourself financially

As soon as you think a divorce is likely, gather as much information as possible about your marital assets. Document everything about joint accounts, investments, retirement savings, business finances and debts. Your tax returns are an excellent source of information.

Be completely honest about your own finances. If a judge believes that you are hiding any assets, he or she may award a greater share to your spouse.

While you may have doubts about your future, combat the stress now by taking a realistic look at your budget. Estimate how much money you will need for your regular expenses. Instead of calculating your budget to the penny, include a little extra money for unexpected expenses.

Preparing yourself emotionally

Beating yourself up over your divorce is a mistake, and punishing yourself only adds to your stress. Consider seeking professional therapy, either as an individual or in group sessions.

It is important to remember that you are not defined by your divorce. About half of all marriages end in divorce. It does not mean that you are a bad person, or unworthy of a healthy, fulfilling relationship.

Avoid any negative behavior toward your spouse, no matter how minor or tempting. It can damage your relationship with your children, and it also can harm your case in court.

Preparing for your future

What is most important is your happiness. Escaping a toxic relationship is a major step toward enjoying a positive life.

Yes, money is part of the equation, and the divorce process is emotional and painful. Let common sense and your goals dictate how you act. A few simple steps can make all the difference.