Legal Tips When Going Through a Divorce

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 What is Divorce?

Divorce is the legal process that dissolves a marriage between two spouses. After the divorce process is completed, both parties are free to remarry if they so choose.

Divorce law is the body of laws which governs the divorce process. To finalize a divorce the court will issue a divorce decree.

This document provides a judgment and order that makes the termination of the marriage official. Each divorce decree will differ because it will be based upon the unique facts and circumstances of the case.

The purpose of divorce decrees is to provide an outline of the rights and duties of each party in relation to the divorce. It also serves to provide the parties with instructions regarding the division of property and child custody, if those issues apply.

A spouse’s status as married or divorced will not be altered or finalized until the divorce decree is issued. A divorce proceeding that has not yet been finalized may affect numerous areas of an individual’s life, including:

  • Debt;
  • Property possession;
  • Taxes;
  • Employment benefits; and
  • Other legal rights.

The divorce decree will typically address issues including:

  • The division of property between the spouses;
  • Spousal support or alimony;
  • Issues related to children, if there are children, including:
    • custody;
    • support; and
    • visitation; and
  • The financial obligations of each spouse, for example, if debts are to be paid by one or more of the parties.

In addition to the issues outlined above, divorce decrees will usually contain basic information related to the case, including:

  • The names of the parties;
  • The date the divorce decree went into effect; and
  • The case number.

This identifying information may be helpful for an individual who is attempting to locate the records of their divorce at a future date. Divorce records are usually kept at the local county records office.

The divorce record is evidence that the parties were married and that they have legally and officially terminated that marriage. The divorce record can be official, which means that it can be accessed from the state records, usually for a fee.

In addition, the divorce record may be indexed, meaning that it is accessible through various organizations or websites. Typically, the divorce record can be obtained at the county court where the divorce was filed.

If the information is not available there, it may be available at the local recorder’s office or online with a private company.

What are Some Tips When Filing Divorce Papers?

In many cases, the divorce process is lengthy and somewhat complicated. This applies especially for individuals who have been married for a long period of time and have complex property issues to sort out.

Tips parties can follow that may be helpful when they are filing divorce papers may include:

  • Attempt to be cooperative: If a party is difficult or evasive, it only serves to complicate the process and may make it more lengthy and expensive in the long run;
  • Think ahead: Be sure to note any issues that may be of immediate concern, such as any outstanding debt or property issues;
  • Laws are different by state: Be sure to understand that divorce laws are very different from region to region. Do not go by what others say regarding the law. It is important to speak to a professional regarding any questions about the laws in the area; and
  • Be honest when making disclosures: Laws prohibit individuals from concealing hidden assets in a divorce proceeding.

It is extremely important to speak up with any questions or concerns that arise. Consulting with an attorney may be helpful if advice or guidance is needed on any issues.

Aspects of divorce proceedings which often require clarification include:

  • Spousal support;
  • Division of property;
  • Child support;
  • Child custody;
  • Child visitation; and
  • Remarriage issues.

What are Some Tips for the Divorce Process?

Although divorce has become fairly commonplace in modern society, individuals often rely on their attorneys to educate them on the divorce process. This is perfectly acceptable, especially since lawyers are trained on these issues and it is their job to advise and counsel their clients.

Thanks to the internet, however, divorce information is now available at our fingertips. Individuals may take advantage of this information and educate themselves for their own benefit.

It is important to remember, however, that not all information found online is accurate and some may be outdated. When an individual is going through the divorce process, they may find the following legal tips helpful:

  • Keep an open line of communication with the other spouse: Unclear or unhelpful communications may prolong the divorce proceedings, making them even more unpleasant for all parties involved. Communication that is not constructive may hinder resolving issues, including:
    • child custody;
    • property division; and
    • spousal support;
  • Be sure to disclose all assets and property: If one party does not disclose everything, it may hurt their chances of a settlement and cause additional legal proceedings;
  • Ask questions: Each party should ask their attorney, their spouse, and their spouse’s attorney as many questions as possible in order to avoid any surprises;
  • Do not complicate custody or visitation agreements for the children: Complications may be viewed by the court as disrespectful towards its orders which may, in turn, adversely affect that party’s case;
  • Do not get married during the divorce proceedings: Until the divorce is finalized, the parties are still legally married; and
  • Do not sell any major assets during the divorce: This only serves to complicate the proceedings and make it more likely that the actions will be viewed as having an ulterior motive.

Although a lawyer is not required to obtain a divorce, having one may make the process go more smoothly. A lawyer can also provide advice and foresee issues that the parties may not have considered themselves.

What if There are Unforeseen Issues When Filing for Divorce?

It is always best for the parties to be prepared before and during their divorce proceedings. As with any legal proceeding, however, there may always be unforeseen legal matters and issues which may arise.

For example, if one of the parties had a recent change in residence, it may create legal issues related to relocation and child custody matters. It may also have an effect on the overall divorce decree, especially if the well-being or safety of the child is under consideration.

In these situations, an individual should inform their attorney if there are any new issues which arise during the divorce proceedings. Some issues may not have any legal effect on the case, but some may affect the way the case is concluded.

It is important for an individual to be honest and forthright with their attorney. An attorney will not be able to make the best recommendation for their client unless their client has provided them with all of the facts.

Do I Need an Attorney Specializing in Divorce?

The divorce process is often challenging and emotionally charged. Because of this, it would be helpful to consult with a divorce lawyer who can explain your rights and to protect your interests throughout the divorce process.

Your lawyer will be able to answer any questions as well as provide advice on how issues may be handled by the court. In addition, your lawyer will know how to navigate the complicated legal process efficiently and will be there in the event you have any questions or concerns.

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