If you’re heading towards divorce, you can’t bury your head like an ostrich in the sand. The key to a successful divorce is careful, deliberate planning. To help prepare you to move forward, I’ve put together four key tips for women facing divorce.
1. Get the information first.
You won’t know where to start until you get good, state-specific information on divorce. You need to know a couple of key things: (1) what the divorce process is like in your state, and (2) what specific entitlements you have under the law to things like property division, child custody and support, and spousal support.
So, where can you get information on divorce? The internet is a good starting point, but make sure your source is reputable. (For the record, they CAN put things on the internet that aren’t true.) It’s also a good idea to search for seminars on divorce in your area, or schedule a one hour consultation with a local attorney. Don’t be put off by the cost of the consultation, either—the value of the information you receive will far outweigh the cost of the session. (Don’t forget to bring a list of questions with you when you go, and bring a pen and paper to write down the answers and any other valuable tidbits the lawyer gives you.)
2. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.
Most cases are not resolved in court. When you stop to think about it, would you REALLY want the person who knows the least about your case to be making life-altering decisions for you? Of course not!
Most divorces are settled between the parties, long before the court date. You have to remember that, in divorce, neither party will EVER receive a windfall. You’ll have to divide in two the assets that you previously shared, so everyone will have less than they’re used to having—and that’s before you pay an attorney. If you can put aside your differences and reach an agreement together, your divorce will be more amicable, and it will also reserve the most of the assets for you and your husband to rebuild your lives afterwards.
3. Don’t just sign.
Sometimes, a sneaky husband will present an unknowing wife with an agreement, and she’ll just go ahead and sign it—not knowing that, once signed, an agreement is incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to overturn in the courts.
If you’re presented with an agreement, no matter what the source (whether, for example, it comes straight from your husband, from your husband’s attorney, or even from a mutually selected mediator), do NOT sign that agreement unless you’ve consulted with an attorney first or you are absolutely, positively, 100% sure you understand what the agreement says and that agreement is fair. Once you sign it, there’s no going back.
4. Look for alternatives to traditional divorce.
In a divorce, money is always an issue. Whenever I meet a woman in my office, she’s worried about how she’ll be able to pay for everything. With divorce, as with everything else, there’s more than one way to accomplish your goals. You don’t have to go forward with a traditional divorce! There are a lot of alternatives, including, in some states, do-it-yourself divorces.
Of course, DIY comes with its own share of risks—you have to be careful of where and from whom you’re getting your information, and also that you know, independently, what you would be entitled to under the law. It’s a good idea to make sure that you’re receiving a combination of education about the law, as well as guidance in drafting your own comprehensive separation agreement. (A good tip: if the site looks sleazy, it probably is!)
Remember, divorce isn’t the end of the world. You need to approach your divorce with the mindset that you’re drafting your own blueprint for the future, and using all the tools at your disposal to give yourself the best, freshest start possible.
If you still want more, or you’re ready to take the next step, consider attending one of our divorce seminars. We teach them on the second Saturday of each month in both Virginia Beach and Newport News, and on the third Tuesday of the month in Virginia Beach. It’s a great way to get information directly from one of our divorce attorneys—because each seminar is taught by one! You can ask your questions and get the information you need to decide what to do next.
For more information, visit our site by clicking here.
If you’re ready to talk to an attorney one-on-one, we can help you with that, too! To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, give our office a call at (757) 785-9761.