So You’re Getting a Divorce. First, I’m sorry to hear that. I wish every marriage would last forever, but that’s just not the case.
Now, not only are you getting divorced, but you can’t afford an attorney. You’re not alone!
Hey, it could be worse.
You could be homeless, broke, unemployed, or all these things.
You’re just getting a divorce. No biggie, right?
That’s not what you want to hear, I know. Divorce is big! And, it’s happening to you, so I get it.
I try to add a little levity to an otherwise very serious topic because otherwise we would never get out of bed. If you are getting a divorce, I’m here to help you navigate the process, especially if you don’t have an attorney.
If you’re reading this article, chances are good that you’re thinking about getting a divorce, or you’re already in the process and have filed for divorce. We all know what a divorce is, but unless you have been through the process before, there are a lot of questions you have about the process and what is involved.
That’s what this article is for…to give you some clarity on what to expect and how to prepare for the ride…because going through a divorce is a ride!
DON’T MAKE THIS DECISION LIGHTLY
This may seem obvious, but some people choose to get married too quickly and the same goes for divorce. I don’t mean everyone, but there are a segment of people who make the decision to get divorced too quickly when the marriage gets tough.
When the going gets tough…I think you know the rest.
Marriage is not easy. Nothing worthwhile is. Now, each relationship is different, but you have to know when it’s time to put in the work and when it’s time to throw in the towel and cut your losses.
Even though I’m a divorce attorney, I don’t like to see people get divorced. I much rather see them get counseling and try to make it work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, I believe that divorce is a viable option.
I don’t believe anyone should be in an unhappy situation for the rest of his/her life.
Life is short…but life can be long if you’re with the wrong person.
GET A LAWYER IF YOU CAN
You may wonder why the Divorce Resource Guy would say this since my main goal is helping people who don’t have an attorney, but I always say that I’m not a substitute for a good lawyer by your side. If you can afford a divorce lawyer, you should have one.
Just make sure you choose someone who shares your vision and values for how you want the process to go. In a divorce, the lawyers can be part the problem just as much as part of the solution.
If you consult with a couple of attorneys to handle your divorce, make sure to ask these questions.
This can be easier said than done, but it’s maybe the most important. Divorce is an adversarial process. It pits you against your spouse for there are likely ill feelings toward each other. You have to figure out who gets what as far as your assets go and if you have children, that adds an entire different dynamic that you have to work through.
Fighting = money spent.
That’s the formula for divorce. The more you fight, the more money you will spend in court and on attorneys if you or your spouse has one. But, if you’re reasonable, you can get divorced quicker and cheaper.
Assuming your spouse is also reasonable. Remember, it takes two.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ALTERNATE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
You don’t have to go to court to get divorced. The only reason you NEED to be in court is if you and your spouse can’t agree, or you are ready to finalize your divorce and need the court to approve the settlement.
Otherwise, there are alternate ways to go about it that are cheaper and quicker. The two most popular methods of getting divorced are mediation and collaborative divorce. I go into detail about these methods in other articles.
For either of these methods to work, it is vital that your spouse is on the same page and wants to do it this way. Otherwise, it will just be a waste of time and money and you’ll end up in court anyway.
This is where you and your spouse hire a neutral person, called a mediator, who will help you agree on the terms of a settlement agreement. The mediator doesn’t take sides and has no interest in your divorce. You pay the mediator for his/her time and it may take a few sessions to get it done.
But, even a few sessions with a good mediator is a ton cheaper than going to court and fighting over everything.
This is where both parties hire separate attorneys, but these attorneys are trained to get you divorced in the collaborative method. Both parties agree from the start that they will work together and not go to court to resolve disagreements. If experts are required, both parties agree on how to pay for them and use joint experts instead of each side hiring its own expert.
A collaborative divorce should be quicker and cheaper than litigating in court. The attorneys are there to help you settle and move the process along, as opposed to fueling the fire and encouraging going to court over disagreements.
If the process breaks down using the collaborative model, the parties are not allowed to use the same attorneys to litigate their divorce in court. That is part of the motivation to make it work.
TAKE A BREATHE AND LOOK TO THE FUTURE
Divorce is one of the most stressful times of your life. Give yourself a break. Better times are ahead. The key to getting through a divorce is to be prepared and emotionally healthy.
Odds are you will have ups and downs. It’s not just you; it’s your spouse and the children if you have any. If you and your spouse keep a level head and WANT to make it work, you can do it and get on with your lives a lot quicker than fighting and going to court.
Be strong, act confident and stay positive!