You will be hard pressed to find a person who would disagree with the assessment that divorce is one of the messiest, most stressful, anxiety-ridden, and frustrating things a person can go through. Even a person who has never been divorced would tend to agree. Probably because he or she knows someone close to them who went through a divorce.
Every hour an estimated 277 divorces occur. Every hour, 277 divorces. That’s a bit wild. Especially when you realize there are still only a few select people (mostly made up of divorce attorneys) who actually feel confident navigating divorce and know what to expect.
If you count yourself among those who have no idea how to go through a divorce or would like to make-out better this time around, check out this ultimate guide to divorce. Don’t count yourself among the horror stories you’ve heard.
First Thing’s First
Before doing anything, before beginning any research into divorce proceedings for your state or actually filing any paperwork, contact a lawyer. While it is possible to file for divorce on your own, most of the forms you need should be available on your local government website, you should at the very least meet with a lawyer once before filing.
When meeting with a lawyer for a consultation remember to be upfront and honest about everything. The idea behind the meeting is for the attorney to represent you in court. However, it’s hard for an attorney to do that to the best of their abilities if they don’t know the truth.
Save the exaggerated and embellished horror stories, name calling, and rumours or gossip for the watercooler at work and your next family gathering. Your lawyer needs to here the real, honest, nitty-gritty truth. Don’t embellish anything to make yourself sound better.
Also be sure to keep track and copies of any and all text messages, voicemails, phone records, and emails between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. As long as you are honest these will help your case and hopefully not come back to bite you.
Research, Research, and More Research
While hiring a lawyer means he or she will be handling all of the leg work for you, that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Each state is different when it comes to divorce laws, procedures, and policies. Make sure you know what your state’s laws are concerning divorce.
This protects you not only against your future ex but also from your attorney as well. While we’d all like to believe everyone is good and no one would take advantage of another, that’s not the truth of the world. Hopefully, you will not find yourself needing to be able to catch your own attorney in a lie or falsehood, but it could happen.
If you have children you’ll especially want to know their rights and where they fit into all this. They have a place too, except if they are under a certain age they don’t have a voice in the court. Meaning it is up to you and your ex to agree and do what is best for your children. But, not agreeing and getting along is probably what led you here anyway. This guide illustrates when and how to go about getting full custody.
A few things to pay attention to when researching divorce in your state.
Reasons to Get a Divorce
Each state cites their own reasons why couples can get a divorce. Each comes with its own set of forms, criteria, procedures, and entitlements.
One of the more common things to be aware of in quite a number of states is the waiting period for a divorce filed for irreconcilable differences. The average period of time to wait is around 90 days.
What that means is that 90 days must pass before both parties can officially be divorced. In addition to the waiting period, both parties must agree to the divorce and must have in place a family care plan if they have children.
This is where it is a very good idea to have a lawyer. A divorce filed for irreconcilable differences is what is known as an uncontested divorce. Meaning both parties agree to the divorce and agree to divide up communal property evenly and have a plan in place for custody if a kid is in involved.
Because both parties are pretty much left to handle everything themselves, a lawyer can help keep the peace when talks turn towards dividing up the property. Even the most amicable of divorces can turn ugly when material possessions, pets, and children become involved.
A contested divorce is when both parties do not agree to the divorce and the case must instead go to trial. These are a few examples of reasons for divorce that could be contested:
- Substance Abuse appearing after the marriage
- Living separately and apart for two years and don’t have children
- Conviction of a felony and sentenced to a penitentiary
- Abandonment of or refusal to care for a spouse when having means to do so
Here again is when a lawyer will really help you out. Filing a contested divorce usually means accusing the other party of wrongdoing. Which means evidence of the wrongdoing is needed.
Make sure you have your evidence before filing. Otherwise, and this is wild so hold on, but if you can’t prove what you accuse your future ex of, then that may become grounds for your future ex to file for divorce from you and have the upper hand.
Know what the grounds for divorce are and what the elements of those grounds entail.
Getting a Signed Divorce Decree
Ask just about any person who has filed for divorce, maybe even some who didn’t want a divorce might feel the same, how they felt when they got the signed divorce decree in their mail, and they’ll tell you all about how happy they were and all the celebration that ensued.
Divorces can be lengthy and time-consuming. But once you have that almighty divorce decree in your hand you’re done. However, you better hope everything you agreed upon is in the decree because once it is signed you’ll need to refile to change anything.
This is why hiring an attorney, conducting research, and understanding what you’re getting into is so important. Once that decree is signed it’s almost impossible to get it changed, and often it more trouble than it is worth. Just keep in mind, if file again to amend the decree your ex will be notified and allowed to respond. Like the first time around you both have to agree, every time there is any change to the decree.
Your Guide to Divorce
Hopefully, you have found some useful information in this guide to divorce for navigating these murky and menacing. Remember research, know your state’s laws, hire the right attorney for you, and review your decree before signing and you’ll be set up for success.
While divorce can be scary and troubling you’re not alone. If your marriage is on the rocks check out our blog post on marriage counselling and what to expect.