If you’re considering a divorce, it’s because what’s not working is far outweighing what is. We listen to stories about disintegrating marriages every day. Here are some of the very first things you should do when you come to the conclusion that your marriage isn’t and can’t ever be a healthy, peaceful place.
1. Educate yourself.
Learn about your options and what your rights are so you can ultimately make a good decision from an informed place. Getting educated about the choices you have does not mean you are necessarily moving forward with a divorce. Review websites and self-help books if you find them helpful, but be wary of some of the “junk science” that is on the internet. Be sure to check out the author’s qualifications and steer clear of anything requiring a subscription or fee. If you live in Wisconsin, it will be helpful to review Wisconsin State laws and statutes versus something from another state. Divorce laws can vary from state to state.
2. Make a list of your financial assets and liabilities.
Know where all of your assets and debts are and save current statements for all of them. This is one of the first things your lawyer will ask you for. Make sure you know how to access all of your accounts and how to pay them if you needed to. Secure copies of your most recent tax returns and pay stubs if you don’t already have them. If this is not safe for you to do because of domestic violence or other concerns be sure to let your lawyer know this and we will be able to assist you in gathering this information through appropriate legal channels.
3. Assemble a list of your most pressing legal questions.
What is involved in the filing process? How or when should I tell my spouse? What are my rights to the home, child placement, and spousal and child support? How much is your retainer fee and how is that applied? These are all good questions that we would expect to receive at an initial consultation. Even if you don’t have them in mind we will typically go over these questions as they are among the most common worries.
4. Consult with a reputable divorce attorney.
A good family law attorney will provide direction and clarity and will be able to, at least preliminarily, answer the questions you have assembled in your list above. A good lawyer will be honest with you and typically you will feel a connection with them after meeting. Be aware of lawyers with tricky billing systems that appear overly complex.
5. Be careful who you confide in.
Few people can be truly objective, and even fewer are marriage counselors or family law attorneys. Yet, there are plenty of opinions out there. Just because your brother’s neighbor got burned by his ex, does not mean you will.
6. Set the tone.
Determine how you want to carry yourself through this difficult time. If you have children, ask yourself what you would like to model for them? Perhaps write this down or save it someplace where you can remind yourself of your goals when things get difficult. Divorce is emotional and it is easy to lose sight of the big picture.
7. Know that there is life after divorce.
The image of the divorcee who starts drinking wine at noon and spends all day roaming the house in her pajamas doesn’t resemble anything close to reality. You will find yourself still living your life, caring for your children, going to work, and driving carpool. Life will go on and it should. There will be an adjustment phase for sure, but you will be okay.
Our family law attorneys at McCarty Law are ready to help and answer your questions.
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