Navigating Your Path Through Divorce

Divorce is a difficult process for everyone.  Chances are, you have never experienced a divorce before, so it’s critical to have the right legal representation, as well as a decent idea about what you can expect, moving forward.  While many divorces begin with good intentions, things can deteriorate quickly if you have not done your homework and if everyone is not on the same page.


Three Important Steps

Retaining Your Attorney

First things first.  You need a family lawyer to help you with your divorce. Your choice of divorce lawyer can set the tone for what might become a relatively amicable process, or one that is fraught with bitterness all around.  Today’s divorce proceedings do not necessarily have to end up in court; many divorcing couples are now turning to less contentious ways to reach an agreement such as mediation. 

Calculating Your Financial Worth

At some point during the process, you will likely have to calculate the value of your assets and obligations.  If you have a lot of property and financial accounts to consider, it’s usually best for you to go through the steps of conducting formal appraisals to get a detailed accounting of your and your spouse’s assets, and work with an accountant to calculate potential tax implications of various settlements.

Determining Custody and Child Support

These days, custody is typically shared between the divorcing parties in some form or another, although there may be some differentiation between legal and physical custody. Each case is considered on its own merits, and most parents will agree that their number one goal is to shield their children from unnecessary pain and hardship during the course of the divorce. You will need to present a host of financial information in order to finalize child support arrangements - plan ahead and have access to your tax returns, bank statements, pay stubs and other important documents.  Your preparedness will go a long way toward ensuring that a fair settlement is reached before amassing huge legal fees and prolonging unnecessary indecision that could affect your children.

Some Final Words of Advice

It’s best, if possible, to build a support system of friends and family around you and to incorporate stress-release tactics — such as exercise, meditation, time with friends, etc. — to help you through the process. Your initial inclination might be to settle your divorce quickly in order to “move on with your life,” but it could end up unnecessarily costing you in the long run. Even the less contentious way to reach an agreement will require some time to consider all angles so that you will reach a result that you can live with without regret.