Getting married isn’t very difficult. Generally, all you need is valid IDs, a witness, and a judge to sign the paperwork. There’s a reason people elope to Vegas. Getting divorced, on the other hand, is bound to be a lot more difficult. But if you feel the decision to join your life to another was a mistake, you’ve fallen out of love, or you’re dealing with irreconcilable differences, then you may feel that there’s no alternative but to permanently separate. And before you start the divorce process, there are a few things you should know that will help to make the proceedings a bit smoother.
- Your divorce isn’t everyone else’s. When you’re going through a divorce, you family, friends, coworkers, and especially other divorcees will want to give you “helpful” advice. But their marriages were different than yours and the same goes for divorce. You can listen if you want, but take all advice with a grain of salt. A friend who had a contentious divorce might counsel you to dig up dirt on your spouse and drag the proceedings out in court to get everything you’re due. But if you are amicable, this advice could steer you down the wrong path. In short, don’t mistake your divorce for someone else’s.
- Divorce doesn’t have to be costly. If you end up in a long court battle, there’s no getting around the fact that you’ll have to pay a lawyer (as will your spouse), which could eat up a fair portion of any assets you’re fighting over. But if you can find an alternative to court, such as mediation to figure out how to split your assets and end your marriage amicably, you could save a lot of time and money.
- Lying can cost you. In a divorce, all of the marital assets must be disclosed so that they (or the value) can be appropriately divvied up. If you try to hide assets from your lawyer, your spouse, or the court, you could end up in serious trouble. Some state laws will land you with fines and other penalties and the end result of your deceit may be that your spouse is awarded the entirety of the asset rather than just the half you would have had to give up.
- There may be a waiting period. Once all the paperwork has been filed, many states impose a waiting period (length varies by state), also known as a cooling off period. This allows couples a chance to reassess their position and decide if divorce is really what they want. But if you’re serious about getting divorced, be prepared to wait it out.
- Nobody wins a fight. You will almost certainly want a qualified lawyer from a firm like Phillip Bahkel & Associates to advise you during the divorce process, especially if you have significant assets to divide. Just remember that neither you nor your spouse ultimately wins if you persist in bickering and end up in court. Any children involved will likely suffer the most. So do your best to resolve any disputes amicably to make the process easier for everyone involved.