The period leading to divorce is an emotional and stressful time. If you’re considering this route, you could be combatting feelings of fear, failure, and regret. All of these feelings are natural. The problem is, they interfere with logical thinking about the legalities of divorce.
As you consider the pros and cons of divorcing, it’s also important to weigh the legal factors involved in the process. Here are six essential legal considerations to keep in mind when considering a divorce.
Legal Considerations When Pursuing A Divorce
One of the most challenging legal aspects of getting a divorce is shared property. It’s difficult, yet necessary, to separate emotions from shared assets when navigating this aspect of divorce. If you feel as though you’ve been wronged or that you’ve contributed more financially, you might feel entitled to a larger share. However, the assets you’ve amassed as a couple are shared, regardless of where you are now.
Working with a divorce attorney can help you navigate the division of assets to find a fair settlement. As you start to consider how your divorce will look, write down what assets have true sentimental value to you and what you can realistically manage without a partner.
Also, conduct some preliminary research to find a divorce attorney to represent your case. It’s critical to be proactive here, as it will give you the first pick for the attorney you want.
Another essential legal consideration before you ask for a divorce is which accounts have shared access, including joint accounts and personal accounts.
Don’t make the mistake of draining your joint savings as soon as you ask for a divorce, as this practice will inevitably come back to haunt you. Instead, remove your partner’s access from personal accounts and get an up-to-date statement of what’s in the joint accounts to use for negotiations.
If your partner’s response is to drain the accounts, don’t worry: they’ll be forced to pay it back in one of several ways. Again, consulting with a divorce attorney before confronting your spouse can help you prepare your finances accordingly.
Are Cause And Reasoning A Consideration?
Depending on your state, you could have a fault vs. no-fault divorce. If you live in a state with only no-fault divorce, you can’t cast legal “blame” on your partner. In essence, you’ll be treated as equally responsible regardless of the consequences.
In states with fault divorce, you can assign blame based on adultery, criminal convictions, abuse or abandonment. These factors often come into play during the division of assets or determining custody and alimony.
It’s important to understand that your partner can try to cast legal blame your way in a fault-divorce state. In this case, consult with a divorce attorney to get a better idea of what challenges lie ahead.
What Are The Separation Requirements?
Some states require that you legally separate for a year before officially filing for divorce. Depending on your location, that could necessitate finding two separate places to live.
However, in some cases, you can continue to share a residence for some time as a separated couple, often to provide childcare or due to financial limitations. Take the time to understand what’s required in your state, so you can start outlining the logistics.
What’s Best For The Kids?
It’s rarely ideal to stay in an unhappy relationship for the kids. However, you do need to consider custody arrangements and how to minimize the disruption in their lives.
Custody is another emotional consideration that often overshadows logic. It’s difficult to separate your feelings of wanting your kids all the time versus the importance of having both parents in their lives. Remember that children should never be used as a punishment or as pawns when dealing with an estranged spouse.
What Documentation Should Be Updated?
Finally, consider what other documentation you’ll need to update after your divorce. Things like life insurance beneficiaries, power of attorney, and wills can often get overlooked.
With these six legal considerations, you can outline the best path forward in your divorce.