Are you and your spouse ready to call it quits and get a divorce?
Divorce isn’t quite as common as it used to be. The divorce rate has actually gone down pretty dramatically in recent years.
But there are still about 800,000 married couples filing for divorce every year. Some do it as a result of infidelity within a relationship, while others do it simply because they don’t want the same things out of life anymore.
Regardless of your reasoning, it’s important for you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to follow the right steps to divorce. It’ll ensure that the divorce proceedings go as smoothly as they can and reduce your chances of running into roadblocks along the way.
Confused about where to start when getting a divorce? These seven divorce steps should make the entire divorce process more manageable than it would be otherwise.
1. Make Sure You and Your Spouse Definitely Want to Get Divorced
Are you and your spouse 100% convinced that divorce is your only option at this point in time?
Far too often, married couples make the decision to take steps to divorce when emotions are running high. They do it before considering their other options, and in some cases, one or both parties end up regretting the decision later on down the line.
There might be some instances in which you don’t have to put a lot of thought into whether or not you want a divorce from your spouse. If they’ve committed a heinous act of some kind that you can’t forgive them for, you might be fully on-board with the idea of getting divorced.
But before you throw in the towel on your marriage and end it for good, you should at least think about potentially enrolling in marriage counseling to see if your marriage can be saved.
Some studies have suggested that marriage counseling might be effective for anywhere from 70 to 80% of married couples. It would be worth giving it a shot to make sure that divorce is what you and your spouse want.
It can be difficult to reverse course once you’ve served your spouse with divorce papers. It’s why you should weigh all your other options prior to moving in the direction of divorce.
2. Decide Where You’re Going to Live During Your Divorce
If you and your spouse discuss divorce and ultimately decide that it’s the best thing for you, then the next thing you’re going to need to do is to decide where you’re both going to live in the coming months.
Some couples going through a divorce are amicable enough to remain in the same home throughout their divorce proceedings. But others can’t stand to be in the same room together and have to be separated prior to their divorce.
If you and your spouse choose to live apart during your divorce, it’s essential for you to talk to a lawyer about what moving out of your home might mean, if that’s what you decide to do. You could lose some rights to your current home if you make the choice to move out of it.
“How is property divided in a divorce?” is one of the first questions you’ll want to ask when you start working with a divorce lawyer.
3. Start Talking to Different Divorce Lawyers in Your Area
As we just alluded to, you’re going to want to track down a divorce lawyer sooner or later if you sense that you and your spouse are on the brink of divorce. There will be all kinds of questions that you’ll want to ask them about how to proceed with your divorce.
And you shouldn’t hire just any old divorce lawyer to represent you. You should try to find the best divorce lawyer that you can so that you’re able to get what you want out of your divorce when everything is all said and done.
To find a list of divorce lawyers in your area, Google “divorce lawyers near me.” You should see a bunch of different options pop up. You can then narrow down your search by looking for a lawyer that meets certain criteria.
The divorce lawyer you hire should have the following qualities:
- They should have a wealth of experience when it comes to working on divorce cases
- They should have positive online reviews from clients they’ve worked with in the past
- They should have an office located somewhere close to your home since you’ll be taking quite a few trips back and forth to it
- They should have a positive attitude and make you feel comfortable when you talk to them for the first time
- They should have the ability to respond to your calls and emails quickly
Hiring the wrong divorce lawyer could turn into a huge headache for you if you’re not careful. Spend some time searching for the right one so that you feel good about the way your divorce proceedings are going to go.
4. Put Together All Your Important Financial Documents
When you first meet with a divorce lawyer and begin talking to them about your marriage and divorce, they’re going to ask you to provide them with a bunch of important financial documents. This will include things like:
- Checking and savings account information
- Mortgage information
- Retirement account information
If possible, you should have copies of all these things available for your lawyer during your very first meeting. This will help them get to work on your case right away.
If you suspect that your spouse might not respond well to your request for a divorce, you may want to make every effort to get your hands on these documents before telling them you want a divorce. Otherwise, they could make your life a living hell when it comes to trying to obtain the necessary documents.
5. Discuss Splitting Up Your Assets With Your Spouse
Many spouses aren’t on the best of terms at the end of their marriage. They can’t stomach the idea of having a five-minute conversation with their significant other, much less trying to hash out how they’re going to split up their collective assets.
If you and your spouse aren’t seeing eye-to-eye at the moment, you might not want to sit down with them to discuss your assets. But if you’re on decent terms, it’s not a terrible idea to try and hash this particular aspect of your divorce out.
You and your spouse might be able to come to terms on which of you is going to hold onto the house, the family car, and other important items. This will make the divorce process easier on both of you and prevent you from having to get your lawyers too involved.
6. Talk to Your Spouse About Your Custodial Goals
Even if you and your spouse aren’t on the best of terms at the end of your marriage, you should put aside your feelings for a little while if you have kids together. Your kids are going to be dealing with one of the toughest situations of their young lives—and it’s your job to do whatever it takes to make it slightly easier on them.
One of the ways you can do this is by deciding which of you is going to get custody of the kids in your divorce. You can also do it by hashing out how much time the other parent is going to get to spend with the kids each week.
Kids are often concerned about not being able to see one parent as often as they would like in the aftermath of a divorce. You can put their fears to bed by addressing your custodial goals with your spouse and coming up with a plan of action with regards to your kids.
7. Steer Clear of Trying to Live the Single Life Right Away
There is a big difference between getting divorced and being divorced. Until you’re officially divorced in the eyes of a judge, everything that you say and do can be used against you in divorce court.
With this in mind, you should avoid trying to live the single life when you’re working your way through the divorce process. This means:
- Not dating anyone (it could still be considered adultery in some states!)
- Not making any big purchases that could come back to bite you
- Not cutting off communication with your spouse
You’ll be single soon enough. But for now, you should continue to lay low so that you don’t cause any disturbances in the divorce process.
Taking These Steps to Divorce Will Benefit You in a Big Way in the End
Going through a divorce is one of the most stressful things you’ll ever do. Even if you get along with them, it’s still going to be difficult to figure out how to get a divorce and actually do it.
By following the steps to divorce listed here, you can make the process a little less painful. You can also speed it up in most cases by playing nice with your spouse.
Find more marriage and divorce tips by browsing through the informative articles on our blog.