How to Prepare for a Divorce
After you decide—either in conjunction with your spouse or own your own—that a divorce is necessary, there are several important steps you can take to prepare for a divorce proceeding. In this blog post, we provide and describe four key ways to prepare:
- Hire an experienced divorce law attorney to guide you through the divorce process. It is crucial that your chosen attorney is experienced in divorce law so that you can be assured that you are receiving the best legal services for your money at every stage of the divorce proceeding. If negotiations are not resolved during the settlement stage, your case will have to litigated before the court. Therefore, you should ensure that the divorce attorney you have chosen is an excellent trial litigator and has experience arguing their clients’ divorce cases before the court and obtaining successful resolutions. Further, if your case involves a pre or post marital agreement, make sure your attorney is competent to handle complex contractual issues. This is important because marital agreements are contracts and any challenge to a marital agreement will require that your attorney have a solid understanding of contract law including challenges to the contract’s validity and interpretation, etc.
- Provide your attorney with documentation that is both relevant to your case and supports your claims. This is a critical step when preparing for your divorce proceeding. By providing your attorney will all relevant and helpful information as early in the divorce process as possible, your attorney can begin researching the law’s applicability to your case as well as begin developing aggressive negotiation and/or litigation strategies to maximize the value of your divorce arrangement. Documentation that could assist your attorney in this respect includes tax returns, deeds, documentation demonstrating marital misconduct (or other valid grounds for divorce, if applicable), and information to support claims for child or spousal support.
- Compile a list of all the assets and property you own or for which you have a claim. An important part of preparing for your divorce includes making a detailed list of all the property for which you own or valid a valid claim. Do not hide or conceal assets. This can be detrimental to your case. If discovered, judges often punish individuals who have willfully concealed assets or property. In the interests of transparency and fairness, all property and assets should be listed so that they can be divided.
- Decide—based on the particular facts and circumstances of your case—whether it is better for your divorce to be resolved by alternative dispute resolution or litigation. While an attorney can help you make this decision by listing the pros and cons of each, it is ultimately a decision of preference between you and your spouse and the particular circumstances of your case. Alternative dispute resolution methods include mediation and collaborative law. Mediation is a voluntary process though can sometimes be ordered by the court. During mediation, both spouses meet with their attorneys before a neutral third party—called a mediator—to discuss the issues in your divorce proceeding and work towards a settlement through negotiations. Collaborative law is a voluntary process whereby both spouses and their respective attorneys meet together to discuss how to best resolve the issues in the couples’ divorce proceeding. Sometimes additional parties such as therapists, counsellors, or child custody professionals attend the collaborative law process. While not offered in all states, the objective of utilizing collaborative law is to come to a divorce resolution without the assistance of the courts. Alternatively, the parties may either need to or wish to litigate their divorce in court. In these cases, your attorney will appear in court and argue your case before the judge and demonstrate that certain issues ought to be resolved in your favor.