My spouse and I plan to divorce but haven’t began the process, what should we do first?
If you plan to divorce, you should first explore a possibility of reconciliation. Look into your heart: is the other spouse really so bad? Are you? Maybe it’s just a time for the two of you to sit down and have a meaningful conversation or maybe it is just the time for one of you to get away for a holiday to think things over.
Once both of you conclude that your marriage is over it is important for you to understand your rights and obligations. Go for a consultation with a lawyer. Do not just go to any lawyer. If you have a heart problem you are best to consult a cardiologist, right? Choose a lawyer whose practice is focused on family law. This area of the law has become much more complex since 1997 when the Child Support Guidelines were introduced. Consult a lawyer who practices in this area. Do not hesitate to ask around and go on the internet to learn more about the lawyer. Phone and ask some preliminary questions, not about your case but about the lawyer’s practice. Decide on somebody who appears to be interested in helping you and your family, somebody who cares.
Ask the lawyer about the options how to proceed with your case and have the lawyer evaluate each of the options in how they relate to your specific situation. Ask the lawyer to tell you about mediation, collaborative process, arbitration and litigation. Do not hesitate to ask why a specific option is being recommended to you. Most of the lawyers still charge by the hour- ask to review their retainer agreement ( in which the lawyers explain how they charge for their work ) before you leave.
Finally, have a realistic discussion with your spouse with regard to how much you two are willing to spend on a “big fight”. Do you really want to deplete your savings and investments so the other one would get less? Isn’t it better to use the money to buy a new place or help our children finish school? It’s your call.
Dr. Anita Dorczak, is a Lawyer, Mediator and Collaborative Practitioner. She practices alternative processes that let clients resolve divorce and family disputes outside of court making the divorce process easier and less confusing. Dr. Dorczak uses her skills to provide reasonable solutions to clients’ problems with the least possible time, cost and stress.
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