You and your spouse have made the decision to divorce. Now what? Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to make the divorce process as seamless as possible for yourself and your family. Here we have highlighted four things you should do now, before filing for divorce, to help you through the process.
Consult an attorney
This step cannot be emphasized enough. Marriage laws, custody laws, laws concerning alimony and child support, how property gets divided, how to protect your interests in a divorce – these are all very complicated legal issues, each with their own concerns and unique ramifications. If you have anything at all at stake in your divorce – a home, children, assets of any significance – then you’ll want to consult an attorney.
Keep in mind, however, that not every attorney can help you. In New Jersey, there are 41,000 licensed attorneys, but only 150 of them have a specialty certification in family law from the New Jersey Supreme Court. Rosanne DeTorres from our firm happens to be one of those 150 specialists, which means that she has demonstrated her knowledge and skill to her peers and to judges who ultimately recommended her for this distinction. Whether you choose to work with D&D or another firm, make sure you consult with a certified family law attorney about your divorce.
Apart from personal issues regarding your children, custody, and parenting time, divorce is treated much like a business transaction. Your attorney will need to collect a great deal of information from you about your assets, your debts, and your financial situation. You can cut costs by being prepared for the attorney consultation and having at least a list of all of your assets and debts, as well as a summary of your monthly expenses. You will also want to collect all of the back-up documentation for each asset, each debt, and each monthly expense. The better prepared you are, the more time you will save your attorney in understanding how best to help you, and at the end of the day, the more money you will save on legal fees.
Plan for the divorce
Much of what we do as counselors and advisors to our clients is to help them prepare for the divorce. In our initial meetings, we will outline what you can expect in terms of a distribution of assets and debts. We will outline a strategy for how best to handle custody and parenting issues. We will examine your income, expected alimony and child support, and provide guidance as to what your future financial situation will be. We then work backward from those identified goals and objectives to determine what you need to do to be ready for those outcomes. We will also evaluate whether your goals and objectives are reasonable given your particular situation. Do you need to build a resume or get some re-training? Do you need to put a detailed budget together or gather more documents? Should you separate before finalizing the divorce? Do you need to have discussions with your spouse about the divorce outcome? We will help you prepare for divorce in all of these ways.
Build a support network
Divorce can be an emotionally challenging time. Even when divorce is mutual between spouses, the loss of the relationship and the transition into being unmarried is still fraught with emotion and difficulties. It’s easy to want to turn to your attorney for personal guidance, but your attorney is not your best friend, your spiritual advisor, or your therapist. Instead, you’ll want to develop a strong support network now before you start the divorce process. You should make sure to have people in your life who can support you, and with whom you can share your feelings and struggles. Perhaps you might consider seeing a therapist or a spiritual advisor to work through the emotions of divorcing. Now is also a good time to develop some self-care habits, like exercising, meditation, joining a club, or volunteering.
If you have questions about how best to prepare for the divorce process, contact the attorneys of DeTorres & DeGeorge today to schedule a consultation.