Statistically, divorce is something that around half of the population in the United States will deal with at some point. If you include all of the people and family members that are affected in some way by a divorce, that number gets higher. Whether it was you that initiated the divorce or your spouse, there are a few important steps to take that will allow for both less conflict and less resources spent while still achieving some of your most important goals.
- 1. Collect and retain financial documents
One of the biggest issues that usually needs to be resolved is the unraveling of finances. At the outset of the divorce, these documents are usually easier to get and may be just lying around the home. Sometimes, a divorce gets messy and emotions get heated on both sides and access to marital information, which was once easy to get, is withheld by the party in possession of it. At the end of the day, the side withholding the documents usually has an obligation to provide them to the other side, but sometimes this only happens after lawyers get involved and applications are made to the Court. It can go a long way by nipping this issue in the bud by finding and making copies of all marital financial documents – including mortgage statements, joint credit card statements, bank account statements, etc.
- 2. See a therapist
In a divorce, the legal system gets involved in deeply personal issues. Seeing a therapist sometimes helps a person going through a divorce to identify their personal goals and create a baseline so that all of the issues swirling around in a divorce don’t lead a person down a very negative life path. It is important to know yourself before you can move forward with what is essentially a new chapter in your life.
- 3. Educate yourself about the divorce process
Knowledge is power. Sometimes, I see cases drag on for an unnecessarily long time because one or both parties have goals that do not fit with how the laws and the court system work. When this happens, it can create havoc for both sides in a divorce. Getting the knowledge necessary to pursue your goals in a divorce is essential. That knowledge comes from people who know the law and have experience in the court system –family law attorneys. Sometimes an attorney will charge you for a consult, but advice from a knowledgeable family law attorney is money well spent. With all of that said, don’t make the mistake that a few hours discussing your case with a knowledgeable attorney will make up for all of your gaps in knowledge on the legal system. Frequently, people with some amount of knowledge on the legal ramifications of divorce make bigger mistakes than somebody who knows next to nothing,
- 4. Check and monitor your credit history
This point is important and also relates to the issue of unraveling marital finances. During a marriage, usually most accounts and bills are in both names. During a divorce, these accounts need to be maintained and paid or your credit score will be negatively affected. There is a concept in the divorce process called marital waste and it can best summed up as the loss in value in the marital estate due to actions or inactions that could have been avoided. This happens sometimes due to the misdeeds of one of the parties, but it sometimes can be blamed on human nature. Take for example a bill for a bill that comes that there is a dispute about. Eventually, if the parties don’t pay it, it will go to collections. During a divorce, finances are tight and one or both parties may feel that they should not need to pay for some specific bill. Regardless of the reason for the dispute, if the bill is not paid, credit scores can be affected. It helps to monitor your credit history to see how this affects both parties. Sometimes then, a more reasonable solution can be agreed upon.
- 5. Find an attorney that is aligned with your goals
In divorce, as discussed above, it is important to identify your own goals. It is equally important to find an attorney that will align with those goals. For example, an attorney with an amazing resume for courtroom experience may not be the best fit for a case that involves a very technical and methodical evaluation of complex financial issues – like a forensic evaluation of a business. Likewise, an attorney with a strong background in financial analysis may not be as big of a resource for a case that will constantly be brought before a judge on the issue of custody.
At LaMonaca Law, we specialize in family law and we have an excellent mix of attorneys who can identify and align with any mix of goals a person going through a divorce may have. While divorce is not always a pleasant experience, it is important to know your rights and have the best team backing you. Feel free to call us if you have any questions at 610-892-3877.