If you know anyone who has been divorced, or have been divorced yourself, you know the divorce process is stressful and sometimes time consuming. If you are considering filing for divorce, or know some else who may be contemplating divorce, here are my recommendations for actions to take prior to filing a Divorce Complaint to streamline the process and make it a less stressful one.
1 – Gather Information
Gather all the financial information that you can. It is all too common that clients do not know the income of their spouse, the extent of their marital estate or the extent of their marital debt. I would suggest making copies of mortgage statements, paystubs, tax returns, bank account statements, investment account statements, retirement account statements, credit card statements, etc. prior to meeting with an attorney. You can never have too much information. Having this information when you meet with an attorney to discuss the divorce process will be extremely helpful to the attorney and will enable that person to provide you with targeted legal advice. It will also enable the attorney to give you a better idea of what to expect once a Divorce Complaint is filed.
2 – Prepare a List of Questions
If this is the first time that you are going through the divorce process (or even if it is not), it is a good idea to make a list of questions about the process and what to expect. The amount of information that you receive at the initial consultation is sometimes overwhelming. Most attorneys will ask you targeted questions that they need you to answer to provide you with sound legal advice. Depending on your situation and the amount of time the attorney allots for an initial consultation, you may end up with little or no time to ask the questions that you want to be answered or you may be too overwhelmed and forget to ask the questions that have been plaguing you for days or even weeks. My advice is to make the list of questions—and write them down—prior to meeting with an attorney so that you don’t forget to ask those questions during the consultation.
3 – Make a Goal
Before you meet with an attorney or even discuss the prospect of divorce with your spouse, I would suggest making a goal. Do you need a certain amount of cash to make a down payment on a new home? Do you need a certain amount of support to secure a new place to live? Can you only afford to pay a certain amount of support to sustain your current lifestyle? Your goal may or may not be realistic and it is a good idea to discuss this with a lawyer at a consultation so that you can have a realistic idea of what to expect.
4 – Schedule a Consultation with a Divorce Attorney
This may seem obvious, but you should meet with an attorney so that you understand your rights. I highly recommend having a consultation with a family law attorney prior to filing a Complaint for Divorce. It may be a process that you feel you can navigate on your own, or you may think that since you and your spouse are on the same page with how to divide things that you don’t need an attorney. You may be right, and you may be wrong; but it cannot hurt you to have a consultation with an attorney. It can, however, put you at a disadvantage to assume that you know (or can Google) the law, only to end up having to hire an attorney later which may end up costing you in time and money in counsel fees. Don’t do yourself a disservice by negotiating an agreement on your own. Meet with a knowledgeable attorney who can explain the law and how it applies to you and your unique situation.
If you are considering a divorce, you should speak with an experienced West Chester divorce attorney. At Potts, Shoemaker, and Grossman, LLC, our attorneys are experienced family lawyers who can help navigate the difficulties of divorce in Chester County, Pennsylvania. To schedule a confidential legal consultation, contact us at (610) 840-2626.