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I'm Considering Divorce, What Should I do?

First off, it's important to know that divorce should be your last option after attempting to repair and strengthen your marriage. Divorce can be a difficult and expensive process, especially if both spouses are not ready for divorce. The only way to know for sure if you are ready is if you have exhausted all other options. If you find that you've reached your last option, it is best if you can start the process of preparing and planning for a divorce early. The first thing you should do is gather important information and use that information to create an effective strategy. Next it's best to read about and learn common divorce mistakes so that you can avoid them. We have included tips below on how to talk to your spouse and our kids about divorce. It's a delicate process but you will need to address it. Finally, a divorce lawyer can help you prepare, plan and strategize, but it's important to make sure you pick the best lawyer for your case. Find out more below.

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Divorce Should be Your Last Option, Not Your First 

As mentioned above, you should only seek divorce if you've exhausted all other options. There's no reason to go through a divorce if you don't really need one. Before seeking a divorce, you should attempt to actively work on your marriage and repair any issues that you can through effective communication and being a good listener. We've gathered a list of great marriage tips and a checklist for avoiding common marriage mistakes. If you're not sure divorce is for you, take the time to read through some of our tips and material about strengthening your marriage.

How to Prepare for Divorce

Preparing or creating a plan is a necessary part of tackling any major life change like divorce. Before you take the first step, it's best to have as much information as possible. Being as informed as possible about your situation will help you make better decisions and come up with a winning strategy. Once you have all the relevant information that will help guide your decision making, it's time to start thinking about an exit strategy. Similar to exit strategies in business, an exit strategy in divorce helps you remove yourself from the difficult situation and start fresh while minimizing whatever damage could potentially result from the divorce process. Don't hesitate to read our model divorce exit strategy and other divorce checklists we make available to aid in your preparation.

Creating a Divorce Strategy 

As stated previously, the first step to creating a winning plan or strategy is to make sure you are familiar with all the relevant critical information. Once you've familiarized yourself with the total picture (the kids, finances, house, retirement etc), then you can begin to create a divorce strategy designed to meet your goals. As with any strategy, it's best to have an experienced trusted advisor. A divorce lawyer can help with you this, but you must make sure you take the time to pick the best divorce lawyer for you. This is someone you will likely work closely with so it must be someone you trust and feel comfortable working with. While a divorce lawyer can offer helpful divorce advice, it's important to think about costs. Divorce costs including the filing fee, attorney fees etc. can add up. It's important to know what things you can do to save money and lower costs in your divorce.

Common Divorce Mistakes

Divorce is a complex process. It's easy to make mistakes that can end up hurting you in the long run. From letting emotions run high to failing to take taxes into consideration when crafting a settlement, there are several divorce mistakes that you can make that could turn out to be quite costly. It's best to familiarize yourself with these potential divorce mistakes so that you can make sure that these don't happen to you. Avoiding common mistakes will save you time and money and make it more likely that you can achieve your goals for your divorce.

The Process of Preparing for a Divorce

Information Gathering 

You cannot create a successful divorce plan or strategy with limited information. You must have all the relevant information and a full understanding of how that information fits into the big picture of your divorce. A good divorce lawyer can help you gather this information and organize it, however it's often much cheaper to gather some of this information yourself before even contacting a lawyer. Having that information early will help you and the lawyer create a successful divorce strategy from the beginning.

Planning an Exit Strategy 

A big part of your pre divorce planning should be creating an exit strategy. An exit strategy helps you remove or "exit" from the negative situation while minimizing the damage to your family, damage to your finances, and disruption to your life generally. Divorce does not always have to be nasty and contentious, a good strategy could help you get through the process quickly while achieving the goals you set for the divorce. Check out our model exit strategy for guidance.

Breaking the News to Your Spouse 

It's one of the most difficult things to do, but if you've exhausted all other options and you're certain that divorce is the final option, then you will have to tell your spouse. It's best not to do this spur of the moment. It's best to plan out what you are going to say. Make sure you are in a private place and understand that your spouse will probably have a lot to say so be prepared to listen. Doing this the right way can set a less contentious tone for your divorce and make the process easier on everyone involved.

Telling the Kids

The last thing any parent wants is for the children to blame themselves for the divorce or question whether they are still loved. To prevent this from happening, you will eventually need to have this very difficult talk with your children. First off, don't do this alone. Make sure your spouse is on the same page and make sure you speak to your children as a family. Recognizing that this is very delicate but important matter, we organized a few tips to guide you.

Hiring the Best Divorce Lawyer for my Case

How to Select a Divorce Lawyer

There are many divorce lawyers available to help you, but how do you select the best divorce lawyer for your case? Part of that depends on the lawyer, and part of that depends on you. Looking at years experience in divorce and family law and reading reviews are great ways to get started. However, there is no substitute for meeting and speaking with the attorney first. Treat your meeting like you are interviewing the attorney for your case. After speaking with the attorney, you should ask yourself if you personally feel comfortable working closely with that person, do you trust them, were you satisfied with their answers and strategy? You need to be able to answer yes to these questions before hiring the attorney.

What Do I Bring To My First Meeting? 

What should I bring to my first meeting with the divorce lawyer? Treat your first meeting like an interview. You must feel comfortable working with the divorce lawyer and confident that they will create strategy that achieves your goals. It's best to start off by giving the lawyer a full picture of your situation. Try to bring important documents relevant to the divorce or at least familiarize yourself with them so you can speak to them if need be. Make sure to clearly communicate your goals to your attorney. Pay attention to the strategy they create to help you reach these goals (if possible). Keep in mind that a good honest attorney will tell you when your goals are unrealistic and they will provide you with an alternative solution.

Additional Resources 

Feel free to read more about related topics. You've got questions, Meriwether & Tharp is here with the answers you need. 
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