When you decide it’s time for a divorce, it’s common to feel the need to take immediate action. The next steps you take will set the course of the divorce process and perhaps even your life.

The first few days can be a whirlwind of confusion and stress. Here’s what you need to do when you or your partner decide it’s time to separate.

Call an Attorney Right Away

The first step you take when facing a divorce — whether you’re the initiator or not — is to contact a lawyer. While you may have intentions of an amicable split, it’s a mistake not to at least call for a consultation. Like many facets of the law, each state has a different approach to the divorce process. For example, divorce attorney Thomas Stahl highlights the requirement for two-year separation periods in no-fault, involuntary divorces in Maryland — a variation on the typical one-year separation.

Calling the best divorce attorney for a consultation also limits your ex-partner’s ability to secure lawyers from that practice to represent them in court. Additionally, you may both start with good intentions regarding an amicable split, but run into serious conflicts as you deal with emotional topics like the division of assets and child custody. In short, it’s better to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Limit Access to Your Bank Accounts and Insurance

The next step is calling the bank and removing access from your accounts. If your spouse has poor financial habits or you have reason to believe that they may lash out, consider taking this step before talking to your partner.

It might not be possible to limit access to shared accounts, but you can typically put a hold in place to prevent either of you from withdrawing without the other partner’s permission. It’s also integral that you don’t do anything rash, like trying to hide the money or spending it out of anger; this will come back to haunt you later.

Next, call your insurance providers to remove your ex as a beneficiary from your life insurance. This action isn’t out of fear that they may try to harm you, but rather to ensure your money goes where it needs to should the worst happen.

Talk to a Financial Advisor or Accountant

Getting divorced means going through significant financial changes. In addition to the costs associated with the divorce process, you’ll also experience a change in income and expenses. Both parties will have separate living expenses rather than sharing, and parents who have made it their job to stay home with the children will be faced with the idea of re-entering the job market.

Talk to an accountant about your budget and tax changes so you understand what needs to be done for the coming months. A financial advisor can also provide direction on your retirement fund and what to do with investments and savings once they’re divided.

Inform Your Inner Circles

Having support during this challenging time is essential. Determine who needs to know about your separation and craft a plan for communicating this information. You may decide to tell your closest friends and family members, then have them handle the rest. It’s also wise to unplug from social media at this time.

It would help to inform your employer and your children’s teachers about what’s going on for additional support and understanding.

Practice Self-Care and Child Care

Finally, make a plan to practice self-care and to help comfort your children as well. Remember the adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” Find activities that help you manage stress and find joy during this challenging time. Consider reaching out for mental health support and counseling as needed.

If you’re at the start of the divorce process, you have a long road ahead of you. However, someday it will be nothing more than a bad memory. Follow these important first steps — they’ll lead you to the rest of your life.