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How do I get started?
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ~~ Benjamin Franklin
If you are seriously considering divorce, you need to prepare before you begin a conversation with your spouse. This is the time, before you speak to your spouse, to consult with an attorney. In a productive divorce planning consultation, you will explore your specific circumstances, learn what the laws and the norms are that will affect your divorce, explore the alternatives and options available, and establish goals. Once you establish your goals, then you can make a plan to achieve those goals.
It is better to be fully informed before you make decisions about what you are going to do. The property that was acquired during the marriage is going to be defined as either marital or non-marital property. Marital property will be divided, though not necessarily equally. Retirement assets acquired during the marriage are also usually divided. Sometimes it is not clear whether an asset is marital. The most common example is when non-marital money is used as the down-payment on the family home. The origin of your current assets should be explored so that you know what is marital and subject to division.
Similarly, before you decide what will happen with your children, it is a good idea to learn about the different types of shared residential custody and legal custody. You should have a good idea about what child support obligation there may be. You may have concerns unique to your case. For example, you may be married to an alcoholic and have young children. In these circumstances, planning to secure primary residential custody is essential.
Divorce is complicated. It will change nearly every aspect of your life. Identifying your goals and establishing a plan to achieve those goals should be done BEFORE you speak to your spouse. Speak to an attorney first, not about litigating, but about what your goals should be.