The early stages of divorce can seem overwhelming. You’re likely sorting through difficult emotions and stressed about what the future might hold.
During this time, it can be hard to know where to turn and what are the first steps you need to take to protect yourself, your assets, and your family.
Here are some frequently asked questions that almost always pop up at the start of the divorce process.
How do I know this is the right decision?
It is not uncommon for couples to waver back and forth when trying to decide whether or not they can work out their differences. The fact is, divorce has some pretty scary long-term ramifications that are going to have a serious impact on your life.
Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not it’s time to pull the plug on the relationship. It is a good idea to try marriage counseling before making that choice and make sure you keep in mind what is in your kids’ best interests.
How much will my divorce cost?
This is the million-dollar question. How much is all of this going to cost.
Some of the variables that will contribute to the final cost of your divorce include attorney fees, whether or not you go to court, and how many contentious issues you and your ex must work through. There are also several factors that can cause expenses to accumulate quicker than expected.
There are a number of questions you should ask before hiring a divorce attorney that will go a long way towards controlling the cost of the divorce. You also need to make sure you understand their retainer policy, free structure and billing practices.
How long will my divorce take?
A divorce can take anywhere from a couple of months to a couple years.
Cases that involve a lot of contested issues regarding child custody, child support, asset division, and other factors tend to take much longer than uncontested cases.
Additionally, some states have “cooling off” periods or required periods of separation that can delay the process. Your divorce can also take significantly longer if your county court has a backlog of cases. In some cases, one of the parties might try to delay the divorce for strategic reasons.
As badly as you might want to rush through the divorce process to get on with your life, it is important to take the proper amount of time to get everything right in your initial decree so you do not have to return to court for a modification later on.
Do I need a lawyer?
The temptation is often there to try to go through divorce pro se, especially when you feel your breakup should be straightforward and agreeable. However, this frequently ends up being a very costly mistake.
It is not required that you hire an attorney, but keep in mind the issues being addressed in your case will impact you for the rest of your life. Many state laws and court procedures are very complex and difficult to understand if you are not a licensed family law attorney.
It might cost more than you’d like, but hiring an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through this process is the best way for you to reach your desired outcome.
Will I have to go to court?
Not necessarily. If you and your spouse can agree outside of court on issues such as custody, child support, and the division of assets, it is possible to avoid having to go to court in most jurisdictions.
If you do end up having to go to court, here are some tips to read through so you are prepared and know what to expect.