If your marriage is in trouble and you are thinking about options, you may eventually settle on divorce as the best solution. Divorce is never pleasant, but preparing for it will make the process go smoother. Here are five tips to help you plan ahead.

1. Educate yourself

It is a good idea to learn all you can about Minnesota divorce laws. Your attorney will help, but you can go online to learn about property division, child support and other aspects of divorce, as well as what you can expect about life going forward.

2. Make document copies

Make copies of documents to provide your attorney. Copy your bank statements, retirement/investment account information, credit card statements, the title to your vehicle and any other papers required for your upcoming divorce. Keep this information in a safe place. For example, you could file the copies away in your desk at the office or in a safe deposit box, although not the one you share with your spouse.

3. Put money aside

You and your spouse may have joint checking and savings accounts. Now that you are seriously considering exiting your marriage, you should begin setting aside a little money you may need once you ask for the divorce. You can do this by setting up a separate bank account or keeping some cash at work or perhaps at the home of a trusted friend.

4. Consider your children

If you have children, consider custody issues and future living arrangements, so you can have a reasonable conversation about such matters with the other parent. In addition, remember that an amicable divorce is much less stressful for children than a courtroom battle.

5. Seek legal guidance

Your attorney can give you valuable pre-planning guidance. Keeping in touch will be important, so open a separate email account to use for this purpose. If you carry out conversations with your attorney by phone, make sure the phone is one to which your spouse does not have access. You want attorney-client conversations to be meaningful, helpful and private, the better to help you get through the divorce process as smoothly as possible.