If you want to divorce your wife, you must decide is whether or not you want a separation agreement. In most states, a separation agreement sets guidelines for distribution of immediate resources as well as custody and visitation guidelines. But a separation agreement is not a divorce and it is not a final settlement. When you are separated, you are still legally married.

Separation agreements are often later incorporated or converted into divorce agreements, so it is helpful to get the best possible agreement you can. When you agree to a separation, you agree to slow down the divorce process to take time to consider all possible outcomes. Couples sometimes reconcile after separation periods. If you are certain that you are ready to divorce, a separation agreement may not be necessary.

Where Should I File for Divorce?

To start divorce proceedings, one of the first legal questions to settle is the question of residency. You first need to determine where you can file the divorce. For example, New York laws require certain conditions, like the marriage took place in New York or a continuous period of living in New York before filing for divorce. The couple are now neither residents of New Jersey or New York, and must live in New York for two continuous years before they can file for divorce. Residency requirements for divorce filings depend on:

  • where you were married;
  • where you owned property as a married couple;
  • where you lived as a married couple during the marriage; and
  • where you lived as a married couple in the year or two leading up to commencing the divorce action.

What Are the Steps to File for a Divorce?

The first steps in filing a divorce is “filing the forms” within the state court that you are a resident of. Once you filed the forms, take the “filed” versions and serve them to your wife giving her notice of the divorce. Your wife will then have certain amount of days to respond to the complaint. During the process of divorce, either side may want to ask the court for orders about child custody and visitation (parenting time), child support, spousal or partner support, or other types of orders.

What Is the Best Way to Get a Divorce?

First thing you need to do is to determine whether divorce is right for you. Talk with your wife and determine if they also want a divorce.  If you both feel that divorce is the best answer, and you are both willing to assist each other to work through the divorce process, then you should start talking about the following divorce issues:

How Can I Get the Best Divorce Settlement?

One of the biggest differences between states when it comes to divorce procedures is equitable distribution vs. community property. They decide how assets accumulated during the marriage are divided between the spouses. It can depend on a number of different considerations such as lifestyle, income, and spousal contributions to the shared wealth. The person who purchased assets or generated wealth may have more entitlement to larger chunks of that wealth with equitable distribution. But in community property states such as Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin, wealth and property acquired during the marriage is considered equally shared. This means both spouses are also equally responsible, legally, for debts and outstanding loan balances. 

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

Divorce is a very stressful time for everyone involved, and decisions about wealth division and child custody agreements can be difficult to navigate. Find a divorce lawyer to represent your best interests during negotiations and settlement talks.