The decision to proceed with a divorce is not an easy one. It is often filled with bitterness and resentment and can be an emotional roller coaster, especially if there are children involved. Besides the emotional side, there are financial aspects that must be decided and legal issues to be addressed. Your family lawyer should be able to discuss any and all expectations of the proceedings in easy to understand terms, including weighing the options you may or may not have.
When can you file for divorce?
In the United States, you must be a resident of a state for at least 90 days prior to starting the divorce procedure. If you or your spouse has moved out of state and one of you still live in the same state, you still may qualify for a divorce in the state. It is best to seek the professional opinion of a family lawyer if you do choose this route.
No Fault Divorce
Your case may be considered a “no fault” divorce. This means that the courts don’t care if it is your fault or your spouses, only that the marriage is irretrievably broken. In fact, it does not matter who is at fault when it comes to dividing the assets. However, the parents’ behaviour when the children are involved will be a deciding factor in the case of child custody. So if there are things that you think your child could have been affected by, you should be sure your divorce attorney knows.
Do you need a lawyer to get a divorce?
You do not have to have a lawyer represent you in a divorce matter. If you and your spouse are on common ground about how the divorce should be handled, you can present the court with an agreement and proceed from there. Sometimes a divorce cannot be agreed upon between the couple and just needs a third party to help work things out. This is where a mediator can help. A mediator is a completely neutral third party that can be used to help settle differences. Often times with the help of a good mediator the couple can come to an agreement on terms and determine who gets what. Although you may reach an agreement in the case with a mediator, it is always good to have an attorney review the agreement for both sides. This will help ensure both parties know what they are agreeing to in the eyes of the law.
If there are children involved, your attorney can also help you negotiate parental responsibilities (formerly known as child custody) schedule agreement. Unless the children are harmed by one of the parents, more than likely equal time will be shared between parents. This agreement can be temporary just to see the divorce process through. After a divorce is settled the courts will determine final parental responsibility arrangements if they cannot be agreed upon between the parties. A parenting plan will need to be decided by the parents. If a parenting plan has not been submitted to the court, or is not satisfactory, the court will formulate one.