Everybody knows that getting a divorce is the legal part of ending a marriage. But what everybody doesn’t know is what you should do BEFORE your divorce or even think about getting a divorce. You wouldn’t buy a car without knowing what you wanted or about the make and model. You shouldn’t make a life changing decision that will affect you and your spouse and your children, if you have them, without doing these 3 things before your divorce.
There are 3 things that I think everyone should do before even thinking that divorce is the answer to their questions about their marriage: get some counseling, get advice and information from a financial professional and meet with a lawyer.
Go to Counseling – Find a counselor that you are both comfortable with and go together to marriage counseling, if you can. You won’t know if you can save your marriage with counseling, if you don’t try. If your spouse won’t go with you, find a counselor and see the counselor yourself. If you decide that divorce is the only option, you will know that you tried. If you end up going to counseling by yourself before your divorce and decide that divorce is the best option, you will have that counselor support available during the divorce.
Meet with a Financial Professional – If you end up going through a divorce, your financial estate will be front and center throughout the process. Meeting with a financial professional can be helpful in many ways depending on your needs – general knowledge of the marital estate, knowledge on types of assets, knowledge about potential tax consequences for certain assets, knowledge about budgets and income as well as future income. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you are to make a good decision before your divorce.
Meet with a Family Lawyer – Yes, I really think you should meet with a lawyer before you have decided to get a divorce so that you have a realistic view of how divorce works and what it might look like in your state and local area. With the increase of divorce materials online and forms that are available for probably every legal need under the sky, I see more and more people who believe they have a total understanding of divorce. Only what is actually true is that they don’t. The power to push a button is not the same as having the knowledge to know what your choices will mean to you now and in the future.
I meet with people frequently who represented themselves and entered final orders that were incorrect when they entered them and now the orders are harming them, their children and sometimes both parties. Also, nearly every time I’m in court, I see people prove-up their divorces without attorneys involved and am horrified about what I see. The judges warn them that they are entering a final order and they can’t come back and change it when they change their minds- which they don’t appear to be concerned about – and the husbands and wives testify about unbelievable amounts of monthly child support, bizarre possession schedules and property divisions. Meet with a lawyer so that you can better understand what divorce will look like after it is finished, the issues that might be involved and make an educated decision.
Jill O’Connell is available for consultation by appointment, at 940-497-5454.