Divorce: Where to Start?
Whether you have just been served divorce papers, recently made the decision to initiate a divorce, or seen divorce on the horizon for quite some time, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all that must be done. Aside from the emotional consequences of this change, there are important legal, financial, and practical matters that must be taken care of. You will have to make difficult personal decisions, such as deciding how to discuss this decision with your spouse, children, and extended family, but the Crider Law Firm is committed to personally guiding you through the legal process every step of the way. Here are some helpful steps you can take to start the divorce process off right.
- Take a big step back. Spend some time carefully considering the implications of the divorce on all parties involved. When you have a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish through the divorce, then you can start taking the necessary steps to reach your goals.
- Gather information, documents, and paperwork. Create a record of your joint and individual assets and debts. Make a digital and hard copy file of the following documents:
- tax returns
- pay stubs
- mortgage statements
- checking and savings account statements for the past 2 years
- debts in your and/or your spouse's name
- statements from IRA accounts, pension plans, or mutual funds
- title, registration, and outstanding debts on all vehicles
Note: Arizona follows community property laws, which means that marital assets are divided fairly between spouses upon divorce. If either spouse acquired assets, monies, or debts prior to your marriage, documentation must be provided to ensure it will be considered separate property in a court of law.
- Talk to your spouse and arrange practical accommodations. This will likely be one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process. Depending on the quality of the relationship between you and your spouse, there could be a lot of contention, conflict, and mixed emotions when this conversation takes place. Have a plan ready outlining living arrangements, parenting time ideas, and practical solutions before you have this discussion. Be open and willing to compromise on these points though and keep a level head. The way your spouse handles the news will determine the next best steps to take.
- Choose the best legal route.
- If you and your spouse are in agreement on most things, divorce mediationmay be a less stressful and more cost-effective option to settle the divorce. Once a settlement agreement has been reached through mediation, have an experienced family law attorney like Brad Crider look it over to ensure it is in your best interest. He can then help you submit all necessary documents to the legal system for an expedited settlement process.
- If your spouse is less agreeable, you may choose a collaborative divorce in which your attorney and your spouse's attorney will work with you outside the court room to come to a settlement decision that works for both parties.
- If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, a judge will determine the divorce settlement and custody arrangements through litigation in court. Making sure you have a well-versed legal representative and divorce lawyer on your side will be paramount in determining the outcome of the divorce litigation.
To help you decide which method of representation will best meet your needs, and to begin taking the steps toward a divorce, set up an initial consultation with Brad Crider today.