Divorce is very likely to be one of the most challenging experiences of your life. Even if you are sure that ending your marriage would be in your best interests and you initially feel emotionally detached from the situation, the dissolution process is more stressful than most people are prepared to handle. Moreover, the aftermath of a divorce can influence your life in several ways for years to come.
Many people approach the divorce process with a “get it over with” mentality. While it’s natural to want to complete your dissolution proceedings as quickly as possible, you mustn’t jump to any conclusions or rush to any decisions that can impact your life in various ways for the next several years. However, there are things you can do to streamline your divorce case and save time with the overall process.
Find Legal Counsel You Can Trust
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare for any divorce is to secure legal representation from an experienced Midwest divorce attorney. It may be technically possible to handle the situation independently, but doing so creates many risks and problems. An average person with minimal practical experience in the family court system will find it incredibly challenging to meet the family court’s procedural demands. As a result, they may overlook important details or unintentionally agree to divorce terms that do not suit their interests.
An experienced divorce attorney can not only streamline your divorce case thanks to their experience but also help you secure a more favorable outcome. Attorneys who specialize in divorce cases can identify the areas of your case that require the most attention. The right attorney will assist you in covering the most accessible aspects of your case quickly so you can effectively focus your attention on the more intricate details of the case. A reasonable attorney will also help their client determine the best strategies for handling divorce proceedings, potentially revealing options the client would have overlooked on their own.
Pre-Negotiate With Your Spouse, If Possible
Divorce formally begins once a divorce petition has been filed with the local family court, but the process informally begins as soon as a couple or spouse decides to end their marriage. If you and your spouse have decided to divorce and you are on relatively amicable terms, it’s worth taking time to discuss what you both expect out of the divorce. While these early discussions are purely informal and may not have any lasting impact on your divorce, they can still help you and your spouse broach complex topics and make your goals and intentions clear to one another.
Taking time to discuss your preferences may not yield firm results, but it can help both of you prepare for your divorce by identifying the most significant pain points your case is likely to include. Of course, early discussions along these lines may not work for every divorcing couple, but it’s worth having open and honest conversations about your impending divorce before taking any formal steps toward completing the dissolution process.
Gather Important Documentation Ahead of Filing for Divorce
It does not matter which spouse files for divorce. Many people mistakenly assume that being the filing party offers some legal advantage, but this is not the case. As you and your spouse begin preliminary divorce proceedings, it’s a good idea to start gathering the documentation you will need to provide to your divorce attorney, including:
- Financial records. Property division is an essential part of the divorce process. You must submit a financial disclosure statement that contains a complete list of all the assets and debts in your control. You should also prepare to produce at least three years of past tax returns. While your attorney can help you determine precisely what you need to provide in your statement, you can be proactive and save time by gathering bank statements, investment account records, business account records, stock portfolio details, and any other financial information likely to come into play in your divorce.
- Prior family court orders. If you are divorcing for a second time or have a standing family court order related to a prior custody dispute or any other family law case, these court orders will have some bearing on your current case. For example, if you already pay child support for a child from a previous relationship, this will influence the outcome of the financial aspects of your current case.
- Prenuptial agreements. If you and your spouse have a prenuptial contract, this agreement can potentially guide your divorce so long as it is legally enforceable. Be sure to provide your divorce attorney with a copy of your prenup so they may thoroughly review it.
Your Midwest divorce attorney can advise you on whether you need any other documentation for your divorce proceedings. For example, if you and your spouse own a business together, you will need to produce records showing your respective levels of involvement in running the business during your marriage.
Take Advantage of Alternative Dispute Resolution
You do not need to resolve your divorce through a protracted court battle. Many divorcing couples opt for alternative dispute resolution to save time and money in their divorce cases. As long as both you and your spouse are willing to engage in civil negotiations, you can save a substantial amount of time and money on your divorce.
Mediation is one of the most popular options for alternative dispute resolution. This process involves you and your spouse meeting with your respective attorneys and a neutral mediator. This mediator facilitates a negotiation process and helps you draft your divorce agreement. As a result, you and your spouse can potentially reach a more agreeable result than a judge would deliver were you to litigate your divorce.
Ultimately, everyone faces unique challenges and opportunities in their divorce, and every divorce case will unfold differently. Therefore, it’s natural to feel uncertain about the process and wonder what you can do to finalize your divorce quickly and efficiently. If you are unsure how to prepare for your divorce or address the unique details it includes, contact an experienced Midwest divorce attorney as soon as possible.