If you’re divorcing and scared, you’re not alone. It’s normal to be wondering what to expect, especially when you’re headed towards such a major transition. It’s not unusual to wonder whether it will really happen, and fantasize about it either way. And, then, stay up half the night worrying about it—either way.
Mixed feelings are normal. Divorcing IS scary, and you’re not the first woman who has frantically searched through our site for more information. In fact, every single day we get some version of the same questions—“what are my first steps?” If you’re wondering what you should be doing as you prepare for divorce (or maybe not, you never know—reconciliation is an option, too), you’re in the right place. You’re asking the right questions and, after you read this article, I think you’ll feel a little better. You may be divorcing, but it’s not the end of the world, and there are steps you can follow to make sure that your best interests (and the best interests of your children, if you have any) are as well protected as possible.
“What should I do?” is always the first question, and it’s definitely a biggie. It’s also one of those things that you really need to have a handle on before you plan your next steps. After all, you want to strategize, and you don’t want to make any big mistakes, just because you don’t know what you don’t know.
So, you’re divorcing. At least, it looks like you might be headed in that direction. What should you do first?
1. Request a copy of one of our divorce books.
We have two books for divorcing women in Virginia: What Every Virginia Woman Needs to Know About Divorce, and What Every Virginia Military Wife Needs to Know About Divorce.
If you’re military or retired military, obviously request the military book. Otherwise, our standard divorce book should answer a lot of the questions you have right now.
These books are designed to help give you the answers to the questions that are keeping you lying awake at night, and they’re a great place to start. Besides that, they’re free! If you sign up to receive a copy online, you’ll receive an e version of the book right away. If you live in our immediate area and would like to receive a hard cover copy, you’ll also receive an email asking you for your address so that we can get it shipped out to you.
(You can also provide a friend or family member’s address, or you work address, if you’re worried about your husband finding out about it.)
2. If you have minor children, request a copy of our custody book.
Likewise, if you have minor children, our custody book is a must have. Though we address custody some in the divorce book, there’s a lot more information about what to expect if custody is also an issue in our custody specific book.
You’ll want to know all about the best interests of the child factors, the different types of custody, how custody is determined in court versus by agreement, and lots more—and Kristen Hofheimer’s child custody book is definitely the way to do it.
It’ll definitely help you get a handle on what to expect in a Virginia child custody case, so that you can begin to plan your steps.
3. Consider attending one of our seminars for divorcing Virginia women.
Once you’ve read the books, you probably feel a little more focused and you have a better idea of what questions are still remaining, and that’s a good time to take the next step.
We teach our monthly divorce seminars three times a month, twice on the Second Saturday of the month (in both Virginia Beach and Newport News), and once on the Third Tuesday of the month in Virginia Beach, so there should be a time that is convenient enough for your schedule. Each seminar is an hour and a half long, and is taught by one of our licensed Virginia divorce attorneys. The best part? You can even ask your questions as we go (though we do ask that you keep your questions general, rather than case specific, just because there are multiple people present and it’s not a confidential forum). It’s a great way to meet a local divorce attorney and have a chance to ask the questions that are bugging you the most, before you schedule a consultation.
I always say that, when you’re divorcing, the information that you get at the beginning of the process is the most important because it helps frame your thinking and ensures that you’re able to make the best decisions possible moving forward. Knowing, for example, how the law handles adultery and child custody can help you as you make decisions and begin planning for the coming days and months. Maybe you’d make the same choices either way and maybe not, but at least after going to the seminar you can be sure that your decisions are based on up to date, Virginia specific divorce facts.
4. Write your questions down.
After the seminar, spend some time really thinking about the things that are still unknown. Wondering what spousal support might be like? Child support? What your retirement might be once it’s divided? Any questions like that are case specific ones that are probably best addressed by an attorney. Now that you’ve gotten what you can from our free and low cost resources, you’ll want to spend some time thinking through the divorce process and writing a list of the questions you still have.
By writing down your questions, you can make sure that you leave no stone unturned. There’s nothing worse than forgetting to ask something super important! The better organized you are, the more you’ll get out of your initial appointment.
5. Gather necessary documentation.
The more supporting documentation you have, the better. To the extent that you can, gather any bank statements, mortgage interest statements, retirement account statements, credit card bills, and so on before you schedule your appointment. It’s best if your attorney can see what’s there to be divided, so that she can paint an accurate picture of what your divorce might look like. The more information you have to provide to the attorney, the better.
6. Schedule a consultation.
Now that you’ve taken your first couple of steps and gathered the information you’ll need, it’s time to schedule a consultation with an attorney. I know, I know, you were probably hoping that it wouldn’t come to this—but, if it has, it’s time to get one on one information specific to your case.
Sometimes, people still reconcile even after meeting with an attorney (in fact, it probably happens more than you think), so don’t assume that because you’re taking the next steps that you’re opening Pandora’s Box. It’s just a way of making sure that you’ve got all your I’s dotted and your t’s crossed, so to speak. By talking with an attorney, you’ll make sure that you feel as confident and in control as possible. (After all, in my experience, most of the people who are paralyzed with fear are the ones who haven’t gotten any information at all yet.) You’ll be comforted by some things and worried about others, but at least you’ll know the answers, and then it’s just a matter of time before it all works out.
For more information, or to schedule a consultation with one of our licensed and experienced Virginia divorce and custody attorneys, give our office a call at (757) 425-5200.