Divorce is not an easy choice. You have dedicated time and effort into building and maintaining your family, only to see it result in a divorce decree. There is a lot to consider during this hectic, stressful time of your life, but Beckman Steen & Lungstrom, P.A. is here to guide you through this difficult time.
When considering your divorce, start with our 15 Divorce Tips.
Tip #1: As you prepare for divorce, make a list of all your assets and debts, property (marital and non-marital property) inheritances, property you brought into the marriage and other possessions.
- This is your preparation. You will need a list to provide your attorney, so your attorney can help you determine how to divide the assets in the best way possible. Examples include stocks and bonds, retirement plans, vacation homes, and more.
Tip #2: Record ongoing financial records and expenses: income, mortgage payments, loans, health insurance, car-payments, daycare, food, utilities, etc.
- During the divorce, your ongoing finances and expenses help identify whether there is a need for ongoing financial assistance . Keeping a record will help your attorney advocate on your behalf to determine things like child support or spousal maintenance.
Tip #3: Approach the divorce like a business transaction.
- Leave your emotions at the door as best as you can. If you consider your divorce as a business transaction, you go in with a negotiation mentality. There is give-and-take in this process, which requires expert advocacy as well as patience. This applies to the financial decisions of a divorce. Issues having to do with your children cannot be looked at as a business transaction.
Tip #4: The division of property can be complex.
- There are many pieces to consider when considering property. Is it non-marital or marital property? Is there a binding agreement, such as a prenuptial contract? Is it a gift or inheritance? Is this a family business? Are we talking retirement plans? Do not let these questions overwhelm you. Expert legal support will sort through these pieces on your behalf.
Tip # 5: Never hide assets.
- Honesty is the best policy. Although you may be tempted to hide assets, you court the potential of legal issues later, such as being held in contempt or a post-divorce law suit asking to re-open your decree because of omitted assets. A full and fair disclosure of assets, debts and income is an expectation in a divorce.
Tip #6: Don’t give up the “farm” just to be done.
- Don’t rush things or agree on any settlement if you feel you just want to be done or you don’t want to argue. Your “farm” is something you may have an interest in and if you give it up just to be done, do not expect you can go back at some point and change things. Trust your gut and let your lawyer guide you through the process. It is not always easy, but it is worth it. It can be more costly and time consuming after the divorce is final to try to make modifications and some parts of a divorce cannot be changed.
Tip # 7: Consider going through mediation or collaboration for your divorce.
- Divorce mediation is aimed at negotiation objectively and effectively. It is a tool that you can use as part of the process. Bring a list of everything you need to work through. You need to be willing to work through this process, as difficult as it is, in order to reach a successful conclusion. We call this negotiating in “good faith.”
- A collaborative divorce allows the parties to create settlements that benefit the family unit as a whole leaving the parties’ dignity intact and assuring that they will avoid having to ever go to court or enter into an adversarial position. A collaborative divorce is the entire process and the aim is to reach a resolution that both parties feel comfortable with and one that can help to keep the family dynamic intact.
Tip #8: Be wary when discussing any legal matters outside of formal negotiations.
- You do not want to say anything that can hurt your chances of receiving a reasonable resolution. Keep your communication polite and leave it at that. This will make your formal negotiation go more smoothly while also avoid mistakes than can cost you.
Tip #9: Think before you put anything in writing: email, tweet (social media), letter, etc.
- Divorce is emotional, and written communication is a perfect outlet for communicating emotions to our spouse or ex-spouse. When writing, it is easy to type something rash and click “send” without thinking. Doing so documents evidence your spouse or ex-spouse can use against you in court.
Tip # 10: If you and your spouse have come up with a divorce settlement on your own, we suggest you go see your attorney to ensure the agreement is reasonable given the law, thorough enough, and understood by you.
- As amicable as your divorce may be, you need that expert opinion to determine if the settlement is acceptable and protects your interests. Having a set of objective eyes in this situation helps you understand what your agreement means both now and into the future.
Tip #11: If you and your spouse can work amicably together consider a divorce alternative such as a Collaborative Law Divorce.
- Collaborative Law Divorce allows spouses to negotiate divorce without going to court at all. It is private, often resulting in better results for both parties involved. The key to a successful collaborative divorce is including attorneys specially trained in facilitating this process for the benefit of your family.
Tip #12: If you need a decision made before your divorce settlement can be finalized on matters such as parenting time, or possession of the marital home, or how to pay the bills, then consider requesting Temporary orders (not always favored by the courts so you will need to discuss this with your attorney).
- A Temporary order is defined as a ruling to protect you and your assets until an agreement is reached or trial occurs. This order can handle time-sensitive concerns, such as financial support or determining who remains in your home for the time being. Temporary orders also help with immediate parenting concerns, which helps to establish a routine for your children during this stressful transition.
Tip #13: Keep your children in mind when making decisions.
- Children are affected by divorce. Even as you go through your own emotional journey where you grieve the loss of your relationship, your children are also grieving. Provide your children the emotional support they need, avoid putting them in the middle of your divorce struggles, and remind them of how much both parents love and support them.
Tip #14: Be appropriate for court if you need to attend.
- When attending court, remember to dress respectfully and act respectfully.
Tip #15: When in doubt, seek a professional — or it may cost you.
- Your divorce attorney has the knowledge you need and is here to support and protect you. Using a family law attorney reduces your stress, reduces mistakes you make on your own, creates a clear and binding agreement, and makes sure everything is in order for the divorce to proceed as smoothly as possible.
Divorce is complex, with many moving pieces, stressors, and emotions. Contact us today for information on how we can guide you through this journey.