Divorce happens -- a lot! Many studies in recent years show roughly half of marriages (give or take) in the U.S. end for one reason or another. Whatever the reason(s) for splitting, the steps you take thereafter are critical to resolving your case in a timely, efficient manner.
Here are a few factors you should consider when getting prepared to get your life back on track.
1. Breathe Deep. Likely, it shouldn’t be a surprise you’re at this juncture. There are irreconcilable differences. Legal representation is needed to help navigate the process going forward, especially when there are children and/or major assets involved. Assessing your situation and what you need to move forward gets easier with a legal perspective. First thing, don’t panic. If you’re on the receiving end of a petition for dissolution, you have 20 days to respond in kind. Take that time (but not too much) to retain legal services.
2. Budget Wisely. The legal process is costly. Lawyer and paralegal fees vary based on the firm and/or the circumstance. There is no shortage of legal choices. Finding the right fit financially and personally starts with research. Time is money, literally. The longer things stretch on, the more financial strain can and will occur. This must be factored in when considering how far you want to dig your heels in on any conflict.
3. Get Organized. One way to get your case moving in the right direction is to have as much information ready and available when you consult with your legal counsel.
Make your time count (see Step No. 2). Come prepared with questions and concerns, along with financial statements, tax records, a list of assets, debts, etc. Information is power.
4. Document Everything. Step No. 3 is a good segue to this point. Modern technology affords the ability to better track information that could be vital to your case. Email, text messages, voicemails and more provide a digital trail and precise timeline that can be helpful when attempting to either build a case or defend. Keep financial files (hard copies and digital) in a safe place and make back-ups. Conversely, be mindful of what you say and how you act in the time leading up to what’s hopefully an ultimate resolution. No doubt the other side is taking notes just like you.
5. Get Real. Unless you and your ex are in total agreement with how the impending split should proceed, you are in for plenty of back and forth. If terms cannot be reached through initial efforts between your respective lawyers, then mediation is the next stop and last one before actually facing the prospect of going to court for a judge to decide matters. A mediator can sit in on a settlement conference and provide a forum and voice of reason for discussion and hopefully resolution. Not only is mediation a place to help sort out differences before a judgement, but also can be used after the divorce if and when problems arise. And they often do. Also just as important, fees associated with a mediator are considerably less than court action. Keep your budget in mind.
6. Pack Patience. While your divorce case might be consuming everything in your world at the moment, your lawyer has many others just like it on their plates. It’s part of the job. Take advantage of the time you do get and cover the ground necessary to move forward. Help your lawyer help you.
7. Stay Positive. The one common thing both parties on either side of a divorce want is for it to be over. How quickly and smoothly you reach the light at the end of the tunnel depends on you more than anyone else. Prepare properly to get there and you will arrive.
Yes, divorce is common. But each case is unique in its own challenges.
For more important steps and considerations about how to best proceed in a life-changing event, contact Woodard & Ferguson - Attorneys at Law to set up a consultation.