Begin a Divorce
From Tips and Steps
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The way you begin a divorce will depend heavily on your relationship with your spouse and the laws of the state in which you live. Some states allow for legal separation, while in others a marriage is valid until a court rules otherwise. In some cases, you may wish to petition the court for divorce without an attorney, while in others legal representation is essential. Spouses may also choose mediated divorce or collaborative divorce, instead of the default litigation divorce, to minimize conflict and reduce attorney fees. Both collaborative and mediated divorce requires that spouses work together to create a divorce agreement; if spouses cannot be non-adversarial, they will have to go to court.
Prepare for the Divorce
- Research the divorce laws in your state.
- Find out if your state requires a period of legal separation, which allows couples to live apart while maintaining court ordered financial and custody obligations to one another.
- All states have “no fault” divorce, but only some have “fault” divorce. If you live in a state that requires a period of legal separation before filing for divorce but want to leave immediately, you might have to sue for divorce on the grounds that your spouse abandoned the family or is cruel, adulterous or imprisoned.
- You may also need to look into child custody issues and learn about laws that pertain to dividing assets.
- Gather the important paperwork, including tax returns, pay stubs, deeds, documents from a jointly owned business, wills and powers of attorney documents.
- How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer
- How to Hire a Divorce Lawyer
- How to Deal With Children in a Divorce Situation
- How to Be Happy After a Divorce
Sources and Citations