When someone calls my office and says, “I want a divorce. Where do I start?”, the first thing I ask them is if they are absolutely sure that this is really what they want. It’s a major step with permanent ramifications, so if there is any doubt at all it’s very important for them to explore their feelings and find peace of mind about the answer before taking any other steps.
If the caller is very sure about divorce, then I will ask some questions to find out the type of divorce they need, discuss their options, and let them know the costs involved. They can try to do the divorce themselves, but it’s very difficult to achieve without some guidance. If the couple is in basic agreement on most issues, then an independent paralegal can help them work out a divorce agreement and can file the divorce papers in court for them. If there are a few issues the couple is having trouble resolving, then a mediator may be able to help them. But if there is no way they can come to an agreement, their options disappear and they have to resort to each hiring divorce attorneys – the most expensive option, both emotionally and financially. I recommend trying to avoid this last option if at all possible. Better to find a way to get the divorce done as amicably as possible without litigation.
If they want to avoid that last option, then the next step is to consult with a divorce professional, someone who can facilitate the divorce process. If the person is committed to an amicable non-litigated divorce, then Divorce With Dignity is right for them, and I suggest we make an appointment. There we will review the divorce process and strategize the best plan of action to proceed with the divorce. I also suggest they arrange for emotional support for themselves and for their children (if they have any), starting at the beginning of and throughout the divorce process. This helps tremendously in getting people through this difficult time, not only to achieve an amicable and peaceful divorce, but to plan for the future.
Other topics that we’ll cover in our meeting are:
- Where will you live in the future? Who will move out? Or will both of you move?
- How will you divide assets and debts?
- Will temporary spousal support or alimony be needed?
For those with children, additional topics would include:
- Deciding on the custody of the children
- Developing a parenting plan
- How will the children’s expenses be handled?
- Child support calculations
- How to tell the children about the divorce
I also ask if they have already spoken with their spouse about divorce, and if they are “on the same page”. If that conversation hasn’t happened yet, I can help them prepare for it. I will also make recommendations on what kind of information and documents they will need to gather.
As divorce facilitators, members of the Divorce With Dignity Network help our clients to prepare the divorce papers and then we’ll file them in the court. But we also can provide referrals to other professionals in case additional support is needed, such as divorce coaches, therapists, mediators, or financial advisors.
If you believe divorce is your best option, find a Divorce With Dignity professional in your area who can help you get started.
The author of this blog is not an attorney and the information contained in these blogs should not be considered legal advice. The information provided here is based on the experience of the author and some of her clients whose actual names are not mentioned. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an attorney if you have any legal questions.