The Divorce Process with Explained: Expert Q&A Session

By staff
Updated Jun 24, 2024


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In this Q&A session, Nicole from the marketing team and Alicia, an experienced case manager, will discuss the divorce process and how can make it less costly, time-efficient, and less stressful.

Alicia, who has been with the company for four years and holds a certification as a divorce professional, has guided thousands of couples through their divorce journeys, helping to reduce the overwhelm and complexity of the process.

We'll begin by discussing some essential considerations when starting the divorce process, including what type of divorce you might pursue and the steps involved. We'll also cover how can fit into your journey and provide support along the way.

Uncontested vs Contested Divorce

When considering a divorce, it's important to understand that there are two main paths you can take: an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce.

In an uncontested divorce, both parties work together to reach an agreement, which is often faster, less expensive, and less stressful. This approach focuses on negotiation and compromise, allowing for more control over the outcome.

On the other hand, a contested divorce involves lawyering up and fighting it out in court, which can be significantly more time-consuming and costly, as well as emotionally draining.

We encourage starting with a cooperative approach to see if an amicable resolution is possible, as it typically leads to better outcomes for all involved.

Q1: What does an agreement in a divorce entail? Does it mean splitting everything evenly down the middle, or can it take another form?

An agreement doesn't mean splitting everything 50/50. It means finding a fair division of assets, which can vary by couple and their circumstances. A judge usually divides marital property equitably, meaning fairly but not necessarily equally. We encourage aiming for what each party considers fair.

Q2: What is the difference in the time it takes, and what kind of expectations should people have if they are going to try to be cooperative with their spouse?

The time it takes for a cooperative divorce varies by state, but it typically takes about three to six months to finalize. In contrast, if you're fighting it out with attorneys, it could take one to two years or even longer.

Q3: How does the cost differ if you're going to try the cooperative approach?

Our packages for a cooperative, uncontested divorce range from $500 to $2,000. If you choose the contested route with attorneys, it can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 or more, often per person.

Q4: Given your experience, do you have any insights into why people choose between hiring lawyers and fighting it out through the traditional approach versus taking the more cooperative route?

Many people choose the cooperative route because they've heard horror stories about divorces lasting four to five years or costing upwards of $40,000 to $50,000 or more. The uncontested divorce process is more appealing due to its shorter duration and lower costs. Additionally, a cooperative approach allows both parties to maintain more control over the outcome, rather than leaving decisions up to a judge.

Preparing for the Cooperative Approach

For those of you who are considering the cooperative approach, which many of you are, one of the first things you're going to have to think about tactically is starting on your paperwork. That means getting all the information you need to fill out the forms to submit to the court.

In that process, you're going to need to be prepared to talk about or answer questions related to yourself, your spouse, your children, and key decisions in your divorce.

Q5: For people who are thinking about this and wondering, "What forms do I need?" if they use, what exactly can they expect in terms of considering that, and how does it differ state by state?

Our platform knows which forms are required when you'll be filing, taking the stress away from customers. We have the resources and knowledge of what forms are needed for initial filing and finalization. We help you with the step-by-step process, making it easier and less overwhelming.

Q6: A question that a few people asked is if they're stuck on a decision. As we mentioned, there are some key decisions that need to be made in this process. If someone is considering submitting the paperwork without answering everything, what considerations should people have if they are stuck?

We suggest that all the forms you submit are completed to the best of your ability. You can save questions in the questionnaire, but when you file, you'll need to answer everything completely.

Spouse Involvement

Q7: Can someone complete the divorce process without any involvement from their spouse?

They can complete our questionnaire if they have the spouse's personal information, such as their address, employment address, salary, and social security number. However, we do need the spouse to sign and agree to all the terms in the agreement before it can be finalized with the court. I've noticed that couples prioritize staying away from the judge deciding on their behalf, which drives our customers to cooperate and come to an agreement.

Q8: What does using the platform look like for couples who want to do this together?

We offer a way for you to invite your spouse so they can have visibility in the process. They can attend workshops, mediation sessions, and have their own login to help fill out the information in the questionnaire with the questions that pertain to them. This collaborative approach ensures that both parties are involved and can contribute to the process.

Q9: On the other end of the spectrum, for people who haven't had a lot of involvement with their spouse, such as those who have not been in contact for many years, are there options available for people in that circumstance?

Yes, there is. We do offer a process for this circumstance, and we support our customers through it. However, we only offer this process in a select number of states.

Handling Disagreements

Q10: Alicia, I'd love for you to walk us through how mediation can help solve disagreements in a cooperative approach. Can you explain what mediation is? I feel like this is a loaded legal word that not everyone really understands. Give us a little background on what someone should expect if they're going to pursue mediation.

Mediation is a way for a neutral party to help both spouses come to an agreement. If you and your spouse are not quite in agreement on a few things like the children's visitation schedule, division of property, assets, or debt, the mediator meets with both parties.

In these sessions, the parties can discuss the dispute and explore a variety of solutions or negotiate a jointly acceptable resolution of issues and conflict.

Q11: What are some of the common things that people discuss in mediation?

With mediation, common topics include the children's visitation schedule, division of property, assets, and debt. Spousal support and child support are also frequently discussed. Each of you probably has your own set of circumstances to work through, and mediation is a really good solution to help address these issues and reach a mutually acceptable agreement.

Q12: Can you talk a little bit about hiring a lawyer and going that route versus mediation? Why would a couple choose to use mediation to get through some of this disagreement?

Mediation is designed for both parties to come to an agreement more quickly, which leads to lower costs and less time needed to finalize a divorce. It also tends to lead to higher adherence to the agreement post-divorce since each party agreed to the terms, rather than letting a judge decide.

Q13: Is there anything else that people should be aware of if they are going to use to do mediation? What does that look like?

Yes, once you decide to use mediation, you can schedule a session over Zoom to discuss key decisions with your spouse. Please understand that mediation is essentially a negotiation between both parties. It is best to prepare for each session as part of the mediation process.

You should really think about where you are willing to compromise and where you are not. Prepare for your session and be in the mindset of compromise. The mediator will help facilitate this discussion.

In order to get to that agreement, there is sometimes a need to know what is vital to you—the thing that you're not willing to budge on—and then where you are willing to compromise. Part of divorce is that negotiation, and you have to approach it in that way.

Mediation does a really good job of helping people work through that negotiation in a way that maybe isn't as stressful or tension-filled versus when you have two lawyers who are both kind of fighting against each other as opposed to really working towards that common ground.

Hopefully, for those of you who are in this situation where you're like, "Okay, right now my spouse and I have not yet decided how we're going to split the house or what we're going to do with 401(k)s," or a variety of other things, you're hearing that mediation possibly could be a solution for you to work through those disagreements.

Q14: Some questions, as I mentioned at the top of the call, relate to legal advice or legal questions that are very specific to an individual's case. Given that, we want to understand the options available. We've been helping couples for 20 years get divorced, often without a lawyer, but that doesn't mean lawyers don't have a place. So, what exactly are those times when someone might need to speak with a lawyer, and what options are available on for them to do that?

They can seek assistance through our attorney network. We offer an attorney consultation, which is a 45-minute session with a family law attorney. Additionally, we have an on-demand legal advice chat feature for more immediate clarity if they need it.

This allows users to get professional legal guidance when necessary while still benefiting from the other services we provide.

Q15: Another question I have, and I referenced this in the mediation discussion, is that there are a lot of questions from people about dividing things, specifically as it relates to the financial aspect of divorce. Do you have any other options available, or could you speak to how people can think about getting some further advice regarding the financial piece of their divorce?

Yes, you can seek advice from a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) or a financial advisor to help understand the financial aspects of your case. You can discuss financial strategy on topics such as alimony, debt, child support, budgeting, assets, liabilities, investing, retirement, insurance, and tax.

You can use this call to get guidance on approaching financial questions in the questionnaire or to better prepare for mediation with your spouse.

Q16: Okay, and you mentioned a call. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Yes, we currently offer a limited 15-minute session with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA). You can schedule this through your account at a time and date that fits your schedule. This service is free and provides an opportunity to discuss your financial strategy and get guidance on various financial aspects of your divorce.

Filing and Finalizing with the Court

Q17: Alicia, I'd love for you to first address whether or not an attorney is needed to file with the court.

In the majority of cases in the U.S., you don't need an attorney to file with the court. We have 20 years of experience working with court clerks to file paperwork and help you get divorced. The filing assistance we provide is a major reason people choose our services.

We take the stress away by prepping the paperwork and knowing exactly what needs to be filed with the court for each step of the process.

Just to reiterate that process: as I said, we generate the paperwork, you will need to sign that, and then depending on which state you're in, your spouse will also need to sign that. We submit that to the court to open the case. Once that's submitted, then either your spouse will need to do the signature in response, or if it's a joint filing state, they will have already done that.

Then we communicate to let you know what final steps are needed. All of that is varied by state, but we're there with you step by step so that you know what to expect.

Q18: Alicia, can you explain a little bit more about waiting periods?

Yes, in some states, a separation period is required prior to filing. Also, in many states, there's a delay between when the paperwork is filed and when the divorce can be finalized. We can help communicate those time frames to you.

They vary from no waiting period to 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, or even 180 days before you can finalize your divorce.

Q19: Okay, and then once a couple goes through that waiting period, what does that last step look like?

The judge will review your agreement and make sure everything seems fair. Once the judge approves, the divorce will become official.

What we want to make all of you aware of is that you're able to use our platform and our services to go through the entire divorce process and ultimately come out of it divorced. Just want to make sure people understand that because I think divorce is a complex topic.

There are a lot of moving pieces, and the legal process can feel overwhelming. We are here to try to walk you step by step through that process and do it in a way that is less costly, takes less time, and hopefully in a way that's less stressful.

Our aim is to try to do this in a way that reduces stress so that you can move on to the next chapter of your life.

Q20: Is it possible for me to generate my own paperwork?

Yes, it is. With our questionnaire, you'll complete our questionnaire, and we will take all your answers to populate your forms. You'll then be able to file on your own.

Q21: Another question that came up is, do I still need to hire a lawyer if I use

If you choose to, you can hire a lawyer—we have those resources available. People might retain a lawyer if they want to have an attorney review the paperwork we generate before sending it to the court for filing.

There are definitely times when you might want to consult an attorney to get advice or a document review. While consulting with an attorney is not required, it is an option based on your circumstances and the complexity of your case.

You could potentially go through the entire process without meeting with an attorney, depending on how specific your legal questions are.

Q22: How is it best to document agreements prior to filing? Maybe you can talk a little bit about our questionnaire.

The best thing to do is to come to an agreement with your spouse, ensure there's transparency, and have a plan. You can then transpose that information into our questionnaire, and we can generate that as one of your forms.

Our platform has a detailed questionnaire that asks specific questions about you, your spouse, and those key decisions. As you move through the questionnaire, you have the opportunity to document those agreements.

For example, if you're deciding about selling your home, there would be a section in our questionnaire for that. If you're deciding to jointly share custody of your children, there's a section for that too.

Once you complete the questionnaire, we generate the necessary paperwork and assist with the filing process.

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