DIVORCE HELP: 8 questions answered by a divorce lawyer

DIVORCE STRATEGIES FOR MEN AND WOMEN

Marriage and divorce: polar opposite states of being. When one morphs into the other, you are likely to find yourself seeking advice from a divorce professional or a number of divorce professionals. Well, you can start your query right here on this divorce blog. In this post, we will try to give you as many and as quality answers as we can to frequently asked questions about divorce. Finding helpful answers to your most pressing divorce questions starts right here and right now WITH OUR RESIDENT DIVORCE LAWYESRS and DIVORCE  PROFESSIONALS.

1. What causes divorce? That is a loaded and complicated question. Probably not one for a divorce attorney. But if I had to guess I would say that divorce is what happens when marriage starts to cause too much pain, stress, and tears. Why does it get to this point? Sometimes because the two people were not really committed. Other times, they were committed and the relationship ran its course, at least for one of them. Still other times it happened because of incompatibility issues, growing apart as they age, and simply, boredom and tiredness. Plus, if a couple got married for the “wrong” reason, what ever that turns out to be for them, it will definitely cause them to divorce at some point.  Marion TD Lewis, New York and Paris attorney

2.What are the grounds for divorce?In every state in the United States, divorce can be obtained with no grounds. All a party has to say is that the marriage is over and he or she can get a divorce on the basis of “irreconcilable differences.” But it doesn’t mean you can’t use another “ground” such as adultery (not a ground in states like Nevada), incarceration, abandonment, commuted separation agreement, habitual drunkenness, drug use, among others. The “grounds” you use will depend on which state you are in. Not every state offers the same grounds for divorce. In New York for example, “habitual drunkenness” is not a grounds for divorce. But it is in the State of Georgia. In Georgia, there are other grounds such as “pregnancy of the wife at the time of marriage unknown to the husband,” impotency and marriage between two people who are closely related such as incestuous relationships. (Even though these are not grounds for divorce in New York these are grounds for an annulment.) The point is, you would need to speak with a divorce professional that knows the law in your state to figure out which ground you wish to use.

3. How can you get a free divorce?Many people are terrified of filing a divorce petition because they are afraid of the actual cost of the divorce. Divorce can be expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars sometimes. In this economy, it is totally reasonable to want to cut your costs and even to try to find free help. Well, there is always Legal Aid if you meet the income criteria. You can also go to the Bar Association which will likely have a volunteer project and someone there may be able to assist you. Barring that, simply call lawyers who you know do pro bono work and see if they are willing to help. But understand that lawyers too are pinched by the economy with overhead, mortgages and student loans. There are probably not that many divorce lawyers in private practice who are offering free divorce services unless the situation is exceptional. If you don’t qualify for state help, and you don’t make enough to afford a private attorney, consider doing the paperwork yourself. Most courts have a pro se office where you can obtain a packet of the documents needed and it’s not that difficult to fill out, if the divorce is UNCONTESTED and there are no assets to report. And there is likely someone at the court who can answer simple, non-legal questions to help you along.

How much does divorce cost on average? The average contested divorce will probably cost you about $10,000 or more.

5. What are the typical “divorce steps” that the average person has to take to get from start to finish? Well, first, the person has to come to a point of no return where the marriage is “irretrievably broken down” and decide that divorce is the only option left. In that case, the person should start gathering documents (without breaking any laws), getting a sense of the finances, and consulting, at least on the telephone, with a divorce lawyer to get a sense of what his or her particular situation will entail. It may be weeks or months before you actually meet with an attorney, but it is always good to call and have a chat on the telephone just so you can start to put your house in order so to speak, and so you have a better sense of what you need to be thinking about. If you are not ready to speak to an attorney, you can also consult with a divorce coach or a divorce consultant – professionals who can be a part of your team even after you have retained an attorney. Once you retain an attorney, then the papers get filed and your spouse gets served. The first time you meet in court is called a preliminary conference and this is the first time you meet with the judge. There will likely be a ton of other court appearances after this till the final judgment. And there could be a trial if both sides fail to come to an agreement about such things as custody and alimony/financial settlement.

6. How to win a custody battle?This is not an easy question to answer since the custody will be up to the judge to decide usually after a painful trial of both sides throwing accusations at each other. I say painful trial because if the parents can’t agree to co-parent, then one of them will “win” custody and to do that, it usually takes mudslinging and bad blood. It is highly advisable that if you are getting a divorce and you have children, to start to think about how you can co-parent in spite of the divorce. Start discussing a parenting plan before you even get to court and start taking parenting classes (in some states like Florida, you may not have a choice). I don’t like to think of custody in win and lose terms. In most cases, the only loser is the child. The child is the one in the middle and its so unfair and unhealthy. Parents should try to avoid that at all costs by being mature about the divorce and leaving their children above the fray. So get a head start. Take parenting classes. It may help you to see that an adversarial model for your little cuties is almost tantamount to abuse and neglect. They are worth more than having their parents have a drag out fight in court over them. You are both parents to the child and always will be. Act like it.

7. What to do after divorce? This is a very subjective question and it depends on the individual. My advice would be to do what feels right, so long as it is legal. Take some time to heal. Then as soon as you can, start dating again. Sign up with online dating sites like this one and ask your friends to set you up with good people they know. But keep a look out for yourself. You could meet the love of your life at Starbucks.

8. Can I get the marital residence after the divorce? Yes. But do you really need it? There may be a big mortgage and huge utility bills and taxes associated with this house. Especially in this economy. Maybe you would be better off selling it and splitting the proceeds if any and downsizing. It just depends on the situation. If you are very high income and there are multiple houses, this is mute. Then you are looking at how many of the houses you are entitled to and whether another asset, such as a baseball team may not be more economically prudent.

As I said before, marriage and divorce are polar opposites. When marriage morphs into divorce, there are many questions and concerns from both sides of the altar. These questions are just a beginning point, hardly exhaustive. But given the length of this post, I think I should stop here and maybe do a part two later this week.

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Thanks for reading.

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