Divorce is typically not a process that is quick or easy, but it is sometimes one that is necessary. It can be a confusing process full of concerns and unknowns. You may not be sure of what to expect or what steps come next. In the divorce process, you are planning what the next chapter of your life will look like. If you do not plan accordingly under the law, it can impact many areas of your life. If you are considering filing for divorce, here is a roadmap to help you get started.
The decision to get a divorce is a personal one. It is a decision that you and sometimes both you and your spouse will come to after confiding in family, friends, religious leaders, and even therapists. A lawyer cannot make this decision for you, and it would be unethical for them to do so. However, if you decide to pursue filing a divorce, having the representation of an attorney will not only help this process to progress as smoothly as possible but will also help ensure a better future for you once your divorce is complete. Your first task after deciding that divorce is the right path for your family is to secure legal counsel.
When you have a skilled attorney on your side, you can count on a compassionate advocate to help you every step of the way. Your attorney will keep you up to date on what steps are next and what is needed from you. You should hire a divorce attorney who is the right fit for both you and your budget.
Your divorce attorney will work with you to prepare the initial divorce filing. When your attorney files the Complaint for divorce, your divorce officially begins. Your spouse will now be served the divorce paperwork.
Discovery is an important part of the divorce process. During this step, you gather information about the other party. Your and your attorney can submit formal questions to your soon to be ex-spouse and request they produce documents that they control or possess. With the proper documentation of financials and other complex information, your attorney can verify or dispute the claims of your spouse.
Experts are often brought in during child custody and high net-worth cases. CPAs, tax professionals, and financial analysts are called upon to provide expert insight into the divorce’s financials and help with the distribution of marital assets once a settlement is reached. Child psychologists and social workers are brought in if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement on a parenting schedule, parenting responsibilities, and child support. These experts examine the family’s situation and the mental health of the child and provide objective recommendations based on what is best for them.
If a settlement for your case is nothing within sight, your attorney will begin preparing for a trial. During preparation, the judge will meet with both parties’ lawyers to hear what they are anticipating presented evidence will show. The judge will then give recommendations based off of how they anticipate ruling at the trial. When preparing to go to trial, you or your spouse’s attorney may also call upon the other party to give a deposition. During depositions, the attorney will ask questions to gather additional, useful testimonies and evidence that can be used in support of their client’s case.
When you work with your partner and can agree on issues surrounding the children, the division of assets, and support, you do not need to go to trial. Your divorce lawyer will submit the appropriate documents to the court. If the judge believes they are fair, they will sign off on them and issue a final divorce decree. If, however, you cannot reach an agreement on the pertinent issues, your divorce may end up in mediation and, ultimately, a trial. Many couples are able to avoid a trial with the help of their attorneys.
After a settlement is reached, the post-divorce period begins. During this time, matters such as financials, property, and other loose ends are taken care of. Parenting matters, enforcement or modification of your divorce decree, and orders of protection are dealt with. Keeping your attorney on retainer during this time, especially if you have minor children with your ex-spouse, is suggested in the event post-divorce issues arise and need to be settled.
At Mahoney & Richmond, PLLC, we understand how daunting a divorce can feel. Our compassionate attorneys work hard to ensure that their clients understand their options and the divorce process itself. If you are ready to move forward with a divorce, contact us to schedule your divorce case review today.