The Big Break: What to Expect When Filing for Divorce

Divorce isn’t a pleasant thing – there’s just no way around that one – but that doesn’t mean it has to be any more stressful and upsetting than necessary. These situations lead to a lot of headaches, from the emotional rollercoaster ahead to the logistical aggravations of the whole thing.  

However, all of this can be kept to as minimal a level as possible if you have a better idea about what to expect and how to go about the process of filing for divorce. Here we’ll go over the technical things you can expect, as well as some advice on how to get through it all and feel as if you’re still in one piece.

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Getting a Head Start:

As soon as it’s clear that you’re going to be going through divorce proceedings, you need to start tackling the technical aspects of the process. Getting a head start on all of your documentation and legal actions will not only give you a better idea of how to proceed with your case, but will also help take a lot of the stress of the situation off your shoulders.  

The first thing you need to start with is the topic of your finances. You need to compile as many financial records as you can in order to show how much you and your spouse have contributed to the marriage, where money has gone, and what you might expect in the future from a financial standpoint.  

This is necessary not only for situations dealing with alimony and child support, but also for your next tax filing period. Get credit statements and begin to assess all of the debt you and your spouse hold jointly, as well as what you are individually responsible for. If you have joint accounts, then you need to start separating these accounts.

Be aware of the separation requirements in your state, as different states require couples to be separated for varying lengths of time before they’re able to complete their divorce. To ensure that things move along at a proper pace, be sure to establish a separate residence or at least a separate mailing address as soon as possible.  

You need to do as much as you can to establish as early a separation date as possible in order to have your divorce completed in as timely a manner as possible. When going over your financial records, pay particular attention to retirement funds/plans, as well as any investments. Be sure to get complete and proper documentation of all of these, including any transactions/payments you’ve made toward them.

Legal Aid:

When you start going through the process of compiling all of your technical documentation, it’s also a good time to go ahead and find a divorce attorney. Focus on a law group that specializes in family/divorce law so that you can be certain of dealing with professionals who already have a great deal of experience conducting cases like your own.  

When you first meet with your attorney, they’ll be able to walk you through all of the information you’ll need to provide to a divorce court and the ways in which you can obtain this information. A divorce lawyer is going to be instrumental in guiding you through the process, offering you advice, and keeping you on track.

Prepare for the Emotional Hurdle:

The big stress of a divorce is always centered on the emotions involved; after all, we’re talking about a very personal situation, here. It’s hard enough dealing with all of the legal proceedings, but then you have to juggle the mental and emotional turmoil that surges to the surface during a divorce.  

The best thing you can do at this point is create a strong network of support around yourself comprised of family and friends. Many people often seek the spiritual comfort of a church group, or will even join groups comprised of other people who are also going through a divorce. This latter option can be particularly helpful for those who may not have a strong network of people around them to call on.

You’re likely going to have to deal with your spouse directly during much of the process, especially in terms of separating assets and possessions. When you’re dealing with these issues, it’s important to take a moment to push aside emotions so that you can approach the situation in a more dispassionate, business-like manner.  

You obviously can’t control the things your spouse is going to say or do, but you can remain in control of yourself and ensure that no matter how dramatic they may get, you’re still calm and rational. Getting caught up in endless fights is only going to add to your stress and emotional trauma, making the divorce proceedings feel even longer and more strenuous.

Think of the Children:

If you have kids, then be prepared for a few additional hurdles and a little more complexity.  Remember that the negative feelings you’re experiencing during the divorce are going to be matched or even outpaced by the ones your kids are experiencing.

Children are extremely vulnerable throughout the stages of divorce, so it’s important for both you and your spouse to talk to them together and individually to help reassure them that they’re not to blame and that the turmoil won’t be permanent.  

While you and your spouse may feel a sense of hostility toward one another, it’s crucial that you try to keep this hostility from showing itself in front of your children.  

Angry outbursts, name-calling, and full-on altercations will have a profound impact on their development, making it harder for them to maintain healthy relationships of their own when they reach adulthood.  

Surrounding them with anger and resorting to degrading your spouse in front of them will also heighten their sense of loss. The established family dynamic that they’ve come to rely on is now gone, so open hostilities between parents will only cause the children to feel as if something good has been lost, and that it won’t be able to be regained.

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