Filing for divorce can be extremely traumatic and time consuming.
You have to be mentally, emotionally, and legally prepared before you take that big step.
It’s in your best interest to gather information, consider your feelings, and make an informed choice.
Here’s How To File For Divorce
We’ve put together a list of nine steps to help you figure out how to file for divorce.
Getting divorced is a huge step. You need to be absolutely certain it’s what you want before you get started. At the very least you should talk to your spouse about the issues.
Tell them how you feel and see if they share your feelings. It’s going to be stressful and upsetting but it’s the best thing to do. You should consider going to marital counseling to see if your issues can be resolved.
Of course, this doesn’t apply in cases of abuse. If you feel you or your children are in any danger you should immediately get out of that situation.
Have a Plan
The moment when you realize you want a divorce can be very upsetting. Even worse is when you’re surprised with the news that your spouse wants a divorce. Once you know that it’s coming you have to start planning immediately and how to file for divorce is the first step.
Figure out what assets you brought into the relationship and what you hope to take out of it. Marital property will have to be split according to a judge’s decision or the terms of a pre-nuptial agreement.
If you have children you have to put their needs first. Have a plan for their future before you tell them that you’re getting divorced. Don’t make it set in stone though. Let them know that their opinion matters and that they will have a say in their future.
Get Your Finances In Order
In a lot of relationships, one spouse or the other handles most financial matters. If you’ve always let your spouse manage the bank accounts, investments, and other decisions you need to get a full accounting before filing.
This is important for several reasons. During the divorce proceedings, you can’t ask for assets you don’t know exist. You also have to consider how you’ll support yourself after divorce.
Often a woman’s standard of living will drop after a divorce while a man’s will rise. Figure out how you’ll live on your own income or what amount of spousal support you’ll need to get back on your feet. You should also check your credit score and report.
It’s very possible your score could be different from your spouses. This is especially true if they’ve made most of the financial contributions and large purchases in the relationship.
Gather Your Spouse’s Financial Information
Knowing your spouse’s finances is almost as important as knowing your own. This is especially true if they’ve been the main breadwinner. You need to know what you’re entitled to after your divorce.
Bank accounts, cash, and owned property information should all be submitted to the court. You need to know that an asset exists in order to get your fair share of them. This also lets you know what you ask for in spousal support if necessary.
Consider Your Future Relationship With Your Ex
Getting divorced doesn’t mean you’ll never see the other person again. For some people, they may remain friends after a divorce but don’t want to live a life with the other person. This is especially true if you have children with them.
Both parents have the right to be active in their children’s lives. One spouse will likely be assigned primary custody but they will have to co-parent.
If it’s possible you should try to maintain a courteous relationship.
Be Ready For Hard Choices
Divorce involves a lot more than two people’s relationship. It’s a legal separation of assets, children, and lives. You’ll need to make many difficult decisions before it’s over with.
If you have children everything becomes more complicated. A custody battle is honestly a nightmare. If you can reach an amicable agreement with your spouse regarding living arrangements it will make things much easier.
That being said, don’t expect to get everything you’re looking for. There’s an old saying about a good compromise, everyone walks away from the table disappointed.
Put A Team Together
Depending on your socioeconomic status and how you plan to proceed you may need a team to support you. If there are substantial marital assets and serious income differences you will have more advanced needs.
It’s important to have the best representation as well as financial support. Accountants, financial advisors, and others can help you figure out what you’re entitled to and how to protect it.
Start by getting legal counseling from a divorce attorney. This will give you much more accurate and in-depth information that will apply to your individual situation. It also lets you get a ballpark figure of how much a divorce will cost and what assets you might expect to receive.
Don’t Lie About Anything
The worst possible thing you can do in divorce proceedings is to lie. The judge hearing your case has broad powers to decide things like the division of property and alimony.
To begin with, never lie about the circumstances of your divorce. If you no longer love your spouse say that. There are no benefits to making false accusations of infidelity or abuse. You will be found out and the consequences can be severe.
Don’t try to hide any financial assets either. In every case, this is seen as a bad faith move and can negatively impact the division of marital assets.
How To File For Divorce
Once you’ve made the personal, relationship, and financial decisions you’re ready to take actual legal steps. Speak to your attorney to get the ball rolling.
Depending on what state you’re in there will be different filing steps. In some states, you’re required to go to couples therapy before filing. Once you know for certain that you want a divorce you’ll need to file the correct paperwork.
Be Ready For Changes
Deciding that you want to get divorced is a major decision. Having to figure out how to file for divorce shouldn’t hold you back. Make sure you’re certain about your decision as your life will change dramatically.
For more information about filing for divorce or pre-divorce counseling, contact us here.