A look at the Divorce Process
Divorce is a legal and emotional process. You should understand that very few divorces will progress in the same exact steps. Whatever the process is in your divorce it is always wise to seek professional help in times like these. Several may be of assistance such as divorce attorneys, therapist, mediators and/or financial advisors. The main one is the divorce attorney. You need an attorney that is educated and well versed in the field of divorce law.
Steps of Getting a Divorce
In order to learn about your legal rights it is best to contact an attorney as soon as possible. They can explain your state's laws regarding alimony, separation, child custody, child support and division of assets.
Get Financials in Order
The first financial step is for you to gather your financial documents. You should make a copy of all the paperwork you collect and take them to your attorney. It is best to find out at this point what the financial impact the separation will have on you. Some couples will physically separate, such as moving apart. Some couples, however, due to finances will be unable to do that. It may mean living in different parts of the home, but it can work. The date of marital separation will be defined by the laws in your state. An attorney will help to determine the date of separation according to the rules of your state.
It is a good idea to keep track of all the debts incurred before and after separation. This includes any joint bills paid and improvements, if any, made to the property during separation. It is also a good idea to update insurance coverage if any improvements are made to the property. You should also take the time to decide whether or not you and your spouse will file taxes jointly.
A complaint or petition requesting a divorce filed by one spouse will begin the formal proceedings. The other spouse must file an answer or response. The petition will most likely include requests for temporary orders regarding custody, visitation, alimony and/or child support. It may also include a request that the other spouse pay his or her attorney fees.
Conducting Legal Discovery
The next step is to conduct legal discovery. This is the procedure that is used to obtain information during a lawsuit, such as divorce. Your attorney will conduct legal discovery or win your spouse's cooperation to share documents. This will help determine the amount of alimony, child support and attorney fees that you may need to pay or amount that you will receive.
This is a good time to go on a financial fact-finding mission, so to speak. A forensic accountant can be very beneficial in searching for hidden assets. They are also able to analyze your debts and assets. This is usually performed using accountants, tax advisors, appraisers, and other professionals to assist you in assessing values, making you aware of the tax consequences and the other risks of keeping or giving up property.
Make Sure Agreement Covers Everything
Before settlement negotiations begin it is best to know what items you want the agreement to cover. Understand that there may be tax issues or other financial consequences for each offer and counteroffer made during the negotiations. Being represented by an attorney during the negotiations could be in your best interest. Having an unemotional advocate at your side can make this easier. You should do your best to keep anger out of the negotiations. This may help to avoid a trial. Trials can be very costly to both parties in a divorce.
Agreeing or Going to Court on Settlement Terms
Once negotiations are complete, the settlement agreement is drafted to incorporate the terms that were settled upon. If the negotiations break down, your divorce proceeding will go to trial where a judge will decide how assets will be divided, which parent will get custody of the child(ren) and the amount of support and alimony that will be paid. Whichever process gets you there, the final divorce decree is created to reflect the terms of the settlement agreement.
As you can clearly see, divorce is not only life changing but complicated in terms of assets and debts. An experienced divorce lawyer can take some of the stress out of the divorce by assisting you in this complicated process. Contact one as soon as possible.