Divorce: Where Do I Start?Is divorce REALLY what I want?
You've hit a rough patch. Maybe it's one in a series of rough patches. You're ready to throw up your hands and throw in the towel and call it quits. "This marriage isn't working anymore," you think. "I want out." So the logical first step is to look for a good divorce attorney and make the legal plans to move ahead. It's time to get a divorce. Or is it?
Before you bring out the legal eagles, maybe you should first consider the bird in hand. You're upset. You're angry and fed up. You should really stop and think and ask yourself - honestly - if ending your marriage is what you want. Is there any hope at all of saving your marriage? Is counseling an option? Once the divorce ball gets rolling, it's very hard to stop. Once you head down that road, it's hard to change course. A divorce is forever.
Divorce is a life-altering proposition. Think long and hard before you act.
Damn the Torpedoes
Now that you've exhausted all possible alternatives, you've decided to go ahead. What are the steps involved in a common divorce?
The first thing to do is clear your mind. Put your emotions aside for the moment. Divorces are mentally taxing. It's best if you can step away from your feelings of hurt, anger, betrayal and hopelessness long enough to focus on the big picture. El photo grande. But what is that? At the core of it, a divorce is about a legal separation of your finances and making sure your children - if any - are taken care of. It's all about laying a foundation for all of your lives in the aftermath.
Man the lifeboats
Get all your papers in order before seeing a divorce attorney (unless you're in an urgent situation, like an abusive relationship). Careful financial planning is essential to a successful divorce. Gather up copies of your your income tax records, bank statements, brokerage and investment accounts, savings and retirement plan details, real estate property evaluations and other documents like these. Also, get a handle on your debt. How much do you owe? Your spouse? Together? How will that get payed off?
Give a wide berth
Separate from your spouse if you haven't already. In many states you are required to live apart for a certain specified amount of time before can obtain a divorce. Check out resources on our website, DivorceAttorneyHome, to find what laws apply in your state. You may also find this information on your state government's website, like The State of Texas or The State of California, for example.
Find the right ship's captain
Find a divorce attorney with a proven track record in divorce court. A good divorce attorney is imperative at this stage of the game, and it's important to ask the right questions from the beginning, too. Important answers to get are:
- How much experience do you have in family law in this state?
- What steps are involved in the divorce process?
- How will you charge me? What is your fee structure based on?
- How will we keep in touch throughout the proceedings? Email? By phone? Fax? Text?
- How long will this divorce process take?
- Also, ask your divorce attorney if they recommend divorce mediation. If things can be settled outside the courtroom, costs will be less and you're likely to have a better and more amicable relationship with your spouse when it's time to drop anchor on your new life.