Divorce Checklist

Aug 8, 2012 by

Before filing for divorce you might want to set some goals as what outcome you desire. Take a look at all your options when choosing how you file, whether or not you will need an attorney and whether or not you will try mediation, a marriage counselor or other divorce-related professional mediator before you throw in the towel or start drawing up papers. Once you know where you want to end up, it will be easier to choose your course of action.

If you are planning to utilize an online divorce document service and handle your own case it might be a good idea to consult with an attorney first. A one-time, initial consultation with a competent divorce attorney to see what your options might be will not cost as much as full legal representation. It is important you understand the law because any actions you take can affect the rest of your life. In fact, a consultation with an attorney might be the best single thing you can do before starting down the divorce path.

Going through a divorce is almost always difficult at first. To start the process you will have to notify your spouse of your intention to seek a divorce with a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The summons accompanying the petition informs the responding spouse that they must respond to the petition within a specified amount of time. Summons and petitions for dissolution are delivered by professional process services in most cases. Your divorce will take place in the county where one or both spouses reside and there may also be minimum residency requirements that must be met.

It makes sense to hire an attorney if your case is a contested divorce involving any type of abuse, dishonesty or bitter disagreements. You are also likely to need an attorney if your spouse has one. If you do decide to hire a divorce lawyer, be sure to get an attorney with experience in divorce litigation. You can ask your friends, relatives and other lawyers to get recommendations and you can check with your state’s Bar Association to see if the lawyer you are considering is in good standing.

“¢    Choose a lawyer you can afford and make sure can afford to pay the fees throughout the divorce process.

“¢    Don’t get an out of town attorney; make sure your lawyer has experience with the local court your case will be filed in.

“¢    Hire an attorney who will take your phone calls and fully answer your questions. A good attorney will help you make good divorce decisions.

“¢    Choose an attorney that is familiar with your specific divorce situation on issues of alimony, mediation and child custody.

“¢    You will have to participate in the divorce process and not expect your lawyer to do everything for you.

“¢    Gather all your financial and legal documents in advance and get ready for your lawyer.

“¢    Don’t lie to your lawyer, he can’t do his job without full knowledge of your case.

“¢    Set realistic goals and don’t expect every aspect of your divorce to be decided in your favor.

You are the only person who can decide the best route to take in your divorce. If you do decide not to hire an attorney and represent yourself, make sure you have the resources to do it correctly. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact your local Bar Association or legal aid society to see what assistance may be available. Not everyone needs an attorney to get divorced and many simple, uncontested divorces without the complications of children involved can be resolved without the services of a lawyer.

However, even in the best circumstances, making important decisions about a divorce can be stressful. A divorce checklist can make the process a bit easier and before you start your divorce action it is important to remember to:

“¢    Keep you emotional and psychological issues out of the legal process and let your counselor or therapist help you sort them out before you get to court.

“¢    Focus on the important issues and let the little stuff go.

“¢    You can plan more effectively if you calculate your financial position and any support amounts in advance.

“¢    Try to pay off joints debts before initiating the divorce so you don’t have to worry about past debts.

“¢    Divorcing parents can utilize education and support programs to provide proper emotional support for children during a family breakup.

“¢    Both spouses should separate their credit accounts and cancel joint charge cards as soon as possible.

“¢    Get an accurate determination of the present value of your house and any other real property at the time of your divorce.

“¢    Get a current credit report for yourself only, it is illegal to obtain a copy of your spouse’s credit report without their permission.

“¢    Do not take more than half of any assets from joint checking, savings and other liquid financial accounts up front.

“¢    Make your children or relatives your life insurance beneficiaries before you file for divorce.

“¢    Make your children or relatives your sole heirs in your will to prevent your spouse from inheriting your estate in the event something happens to you before the divorce is final.

Remember that your divorce is not complete or binding until it has been approved in a final divorce decree. When the terms have been agreed upon as set forth in the Marital Termination Agreement and the divorce decree has been signed by a judge, your divorce will be final.


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