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Divorce FAQ

Common Divorce Questions & Answers:

Question: Do I need a reason to get divorced?

Answer: With every divorce, the court will require that you establish a basis or reason for seeking a divorce. Depending on the state in which you file, you may be able to get a no-fault divorce whereby you are claiming that the relationship between the husband and wife has irretrievably broken down or irreconcilable differences exist. No-fault divorce is the most common type of divorce and most states allow this type. If your state is a fault-based divorce state, you must establish a fault-based reason for seeking a divorce. Examples of these are adultery, abandonment, cruelty, criminal conviction, and mental illness.

Most states allow for both no-fault and fault-based divorces, but your divorce attorney will advise you accordingly.

Question: How much does divorce cost?

Answer: Unfortunately, there is no set answer for how much a divorce costs. The cost of a divorce will depend on the type of divorce you seek – adversarial, mediated, or collaborative. Adversarial is the most expensive, collaborative is middle of the road, and mediated is usually the least expensive. If both spouses simply want to go their own way and the finances involved are minimal, divorce should cost only a couple thousand dollars. If disputes regarding alimony, child custody, and property distribution exist, the legal fees could run into several thousand dollars or more. As a general rule of thumb regarding divorce costs, the wealthier the couple, the greater the cost in terms of legal fees.

The most costly divorce is the one where you don’t hire an attorney!

Question: Can I get divorced in any state?

Answer: No, you can only seek a divorce in a state that has jurisdiction over you and your spouse. A court’s power to decide a divorce case is usually determined by residency. That is, a divorcing spouse is generally required to bring the divorce action in the state where he or she maintains a permanent home. The residency requirements vary by state, but all states require a spouse to be a resident of the state often for at least six months and sometimes for as long as one year before filing for a divorce there.

The spouse who files for divorce must offer proof that he or she has resided in the state for the required length of time. Only three states – Alaska, South Dakota and Washington – have no duration of residency requirement. In other words, being a resident at the time you file for divorce is enough in those states.

Question: How do I live and support myself while my divorce is pending?

Answer: In most states, and upon the filing of a divorce complaint, the court will immediately issue temporary orders that must be followed by both spouses until the divorce is finalized. These orders typically involve temporary support, temporary child custody and visitation, preservation of assets, and the maintenance of health insurance benefits and other personal, health, and financial necessities. The goal of these temporary orders is to maintain the status quo until the divorce is finalized and a divorce agreement is established while providing the basic necessities to all parties involved.

Question: What should I do if I’m planning to get a divorce?

Answer: Divorce is a very big step and must not be taken lightly. If you are truly convinced that divorce is the only way to go, prepare by doing the following:

Hire an Attorney! No one is better equipped to guide you through a divorce than an experienced divorce attorney. Make sure you select an attorney that you feel comfortable with and can easily communicate with. You should never feel intimidated or belittled by the questions you ask your attorney.

Prepare copies of all your financial records including tax returns, pay stubs and investments. Keep these documents together and make sure you keep copies for your own records.

In addition, gather together to give to your attorney copies of any documents relating to ownership of property and personal belongings. While it is unlikely that your soon-to-be ex will fight with you over who owns your clothes, the ownership of an antique brooch from the man’s side of the family could quickly become a heated debate. Know whose name is on the title for any houses, land, cars, boats, or other vehicles.

Discuss with your lawyer the timeline of what has to happen when, and make sure you keep a running calendar of important dates and documents or appearances that are required of you.

Open separate checking and credit accounts. Separate your paychecks from your spouse’s as soon as possible.

Work on making important decisions regarding any children or other dependents as quickly as possible.

Revise your will. Make sure to put in provisions for any children in your custody upon the event of your death. Discuss with your attorney who you would like to raise your children.

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