Here Are Some Logical Steps to Starting the Divorce Process

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Navigating the complexities of divorce doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here’s a guide on starting the divorce process with insight into a smoother emotional and financial journey. It provides a sensible and achievable approach to this life-changing decision.

Reflect on Your Options

Before starting the process, consider modern trends indicating younger individuals contemplate divorce sooner. Technology’s influence, like ‘swiping right,’ contributes to this shift. Jacqueline Newman, an attorney, stresses certainty.

Ask yourself if you’re sure. If you’re uncertain, Newman recommends marriage counseling. Divorce demands careful consideration, being a significant commitment both financially and emotionally. If you are certain, move on to the next step.

Choose Your Divorce Path

Contrary to common assumptions, divorce doesn’t always mean heading to court. Jacqueline Newman outlines three options: mediation, collaborative law, and litigation. Mediation is where couples collaborate with a neutral third party to work out separation terms. It’s a cost-effective option. Collaborative law is where both parties hire separate lawyers, committing to open disclosure and child protection. It provides more control over the process but requires starting over with new attorneys if litigation becomes necessary.

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Litigation is the traditional and often more expensive route that involves divorce attorneys and potential court appearances. Most cases settle before trial. Other options like the “kitchen table” approach and online methods exist but they may pose challenges. Newman cautions against them, emphasizing the complexity of negotiation and the potential pitfalls in a DIY divorce.

Choose Legal Representation and Be Patient

Before hiring an attorney, determine your divorce path to know how an attorney factors in. Representing yourself is discouraged unless you’re legally trained. It’s crucial to hire a knowledgeable, responsive, and trusted lawyer. Upon selecting legal representation, complete a statement of net worth detailing financial aspects. If children or pets are involved, efforts may focus on establishing a custody agreement and decisions about shared living arrangements.

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The duration of the divorce process varies based on its complexity, ranging from a few months to several years, according to Wollack. Whether through litigation or out-of-court negotiations, the timeline often exceeds expectations, leading to increased costs and potential frustration. Recognizing and acknowledging this reality is crucial to maintaining a realistic perspective throughout the process.

Financial Preparation and Filing

Prepare for divorce costs, varying by location. Legal fees range widely, with initial retainer fees from a few thousand to over $50,000. Despite misconceptions, the initiator isn’t always responsible for all expenses, as judges consider financial responsibilities independent of the divorce instigator.

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Once the terms of your separation agreement are finalized, the next step is filing the divorce papers and submitting them to the court. While navigating the divorce process can be challenging, there are positive outcomes. According to Wollack, divorced individuals often become better parents by shouldering new responsibilities and gaining independence. Recognizing these silver linings can contribute to a smoother transition as you officially conclude the divorce proceedings.