Now that the holidays are over, it’s time to start thinking about 2017, and how you’ll make it a better year than 2016. If you’ve been unhappy in your marriage, you’re probably thinking about the changes you could make in your personal life that would make you happier, more fulfilled, or a better parent moving forward.
There aren’t really a whole lot of things that are worse than feeling trapped in a marriage. No matter what has gone wrong, all the worry and wondering and stressing about what your future might hold – whether together or single – is enough to make anyone feel a little unbalanced.
Of course, the thought of divorce probably sends little shards of fear into your heart. It’s enough to cause anyone to lie awake at night, wondering what will happen and what the right choices will be. None of us have a crystal ball, you know. All you can do, as you already know, is make the best decisions you can with the information you have. Will you stay – or will you go?
It’s up to you, and we’ll never push you in any particular direction. If you decide that you’re headed towards divorce, though, you’re in the right place. (And, if you want to save your marriage, you should probably consider talking to a marriage counselor to get the help you need to put things back on track.) Obviously, you’re looking for the answers you’ll need to make the best decision possible, and that’s great. You know there’s a lot at stake, and you’ve probably heard some horror stories about the divorce process from friends and friends of friends who’ve been through something miserable. Though, as a divorce lawyer, I can tell you, with conviction, there are plenty of divorces that aren’t miserable, years-long affairs that drag out and make everyone hate each other. Plenty of divorces are amicable, if not friendly, and relatively quickly, easily, and efficiently tie up the loose strings and allow the two of you to move forward with the rest of your lives.
Even if you fear that it won’t be you with the amicable divorce, don’t rule it out. We find that plenty of divorces start out with tensions high, but things smooth over in the end. In the meantime, though, do what you can to make sure that you’re both prepped for smooth sailing. First and foremost, make sure you get the information you need to make important decisions.
Do you know how retirement is divided? Do you know how to create a custody and visitation arrangement? Will you be entitled to spousal support? (Or, worse—will he?) If so, how much? What will you do with the house? What about cars, boats, ATVs and other vehicles? There are a lot of questions in any divorce; after all, you’re dividing probably pretty much near everything you’ve accumulated of any monetary value (unless, of course, your marriage was incredibly short).
Divorce is the single biggest financial transaction of an adult’s life; if you’re headed down this path, you should make sure that you know, ahead of time, how things work so that you can be prepared for all the choices that will come your way.
So, what should you do to make sure you know what you need to know about the divorce process?
1. Read about divorce.
There’s lots of information out there. Of course, you do have to be careful about WHAT exactly you’re reading – you want to be sure it’s up to date, Virginia specific, and written by an actual licensed attorney (otherwise, how would you know you can trust it?).
I can’t vouch for the trustworthiness of everything else on the internet, but I can tell you that we have some awesome information on our website. In addition to our blog content (which you can quickly and easily search using the toolbar on the right hand side), we also have several free books that you can request copies of. We’ll email it to you right away if you request it, and, if you live in our area, we’ll even send you a free hard copy. (And you don’t need to worry; we’ll send it in a plain, unmarked envelope, so no one will know what’s inside.)
Seriously, though—start with the blog. If you’ve got a particular question, chances are you’ll find an answer there. Just click here, and enter your search terms into the search bar. You’ll find lots of really specific, in depth information on more advanced topics.
We’ve got four books, so certainly one will fit your situation, and help you as you begin to make important choices.
Perfect for any Virginia woman deciding whether to divorce.
The right introduction to divorce for any active duty female military service member, military spouses, and retired spouses and servicemembers.
If you’ve got children under 18, this book is for you! It explains custody, both as a standalone case, and as part of an underlying divorce case. Learn about custody determinations, modifications of custody, the best interests of the child factors, and more.
If you’re considering hiring a divorce lawyer (or doing it yourself) this book is for you! Learn about attorney advertising, how to tell the good from the bad, the best questions to ask in an initial consultation, and more.
2. Go to a seminar.
Once you’ve read what you can read, and found answers to the questions that started it all, you’ll probably want some more information. Maybe you’ve got a couple other questions you can’t find an answer to, or you just want the opportunity to ask questions to a licensed Virginia divorce lawyer who can help you make sure that you’ve got all the information you need.
Our Second Saturday and Third Tuesday seminars are offered monthly, and each is taught by one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys. It’s a great place to learn about the procedure of divorce—including the difference between contested and uncontested divorces, fault and no fault grounds, separation agreements, litigated divorces, and even alternatives to traditional divorce (like mediation, collaboration, and do it yourself).
If custody is going to be an issue, you might also want to consider our Custody Bootcamp for Moms seminar. It’s pretty intense because it teaches women what they need to know in case they want to represent themselves in their own custody case at the juvenile court level, but it’s also pretty awesome at preparing women for what to expect when they have a custody case looming, and even how to check up on their current attorney, if they’re unsure about the advice they’ve been getting.
It’s intense, but it’s worth it.
3. Talk to an attorney one on one.
As you probably already know, there’s really no substitute for talking to an attorney one on one. You can search the web all you want, and you can attend all the seminars, but at the end of the day, you’ll have specific questions about the facts of your case—and sometimes that can mean that the law might apply a little bit differently than the norm.
Once you get to a certain point, there’s no other alternative. You’ll have to talk to an attorney to get personalized recommendations, and to come up with a custom tailored plan of action unique to you.
There should be enough information here to get you started. You should know, too, that taking any one of these steps isn’t like opening Pandora’s Box; you can search the website, read the books, attend the seminars, and even have a consultation with one of our attorneys—it doesn’t mean you’re getting a divorce, and you can be sure that we will never push you in that direction. You may decide, after talking to us, that you want to try marriage counseling; you may try marriage counseling and then come back to us later. There’s no right or wrong way to do this—ultimately, you’ll have to listen to yourself, and make the best decision you can.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, give our office a call at (757) 425-5200.