Divorce can be one of the most stressful situations a person will ever potentially go through. Depending on the events leading up to divorce, you may be feeling extremely sad, or angry, or both. However, no matter what happened leading up to this decision, emotions should be left out of the legal proceedings. Divorces can take an immense toll on an individual’s emotional and financial well-being; and while the emotional toll is often unavoidable, there are steps you can take to come out on top financially.
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If you are the spouse initiating the divorce, you have a chance to mentally prepare for what you hope the proceedings will look like. While civil divorces are less expensive than court battles, there’s no need to be the bigger person who gives up their prized assets. Think about what you want after the separation; the house, the car, full custody of the children. Depending on the quality of your marriage, you may be able to get everything you want out of your divorce.
Find a Divorce Lawyer
In order to take all the proper steps for a successful divorce, it’s important to hire an expert to help get you through the process. One of the many hurdles in divorce is divvying up possessions you’ve accumulated as an entity. Before getting started on this, it’s necessary to have an inventory of your assets and property, as well as your husband’s. Express your priorities and goals to your divorce lawyer so they can tell you how much it will cost to get a divorce and give you advice on preparing for the settlement before you file.
Get a Tax Expert
While your lawyer should be able to help you figure out the logistics, it’s also a good idea to consult with a tax expert to avoid making financial mistakes. There are a lot of financial changes that occur in a divorce, and a tax preparer or accountant will help you figure out what to expect. They can also help you identify the tax implications of maintaining certain assets, which can end up changing the value of the settlement.
Think Long Term
During a divorce, there’s so much going on that it can be difficult to think about college and healthcare for your children down the road, or the inflation of assets in the future. However, leave space for yourself to consider these aspects of divorce, because although they are not immediate issues, they are as certain as tomorrow. Assets and alimony are important, but work through the details of the divorce enough to ensure your future and the future of your children will be taken care of going forward.
How To Tell Your Husband You Want a Divorce
If you and your spouse have considered divorce and are on good terms, it may be easy to file for an uncontested divorce where you both agree on to each other’s terms regarding child custody and division of assets. If these are not the kind of terms you and your husband are on, the situation become slightly more complicated. A contested divorce is more complicated and expensive, but this should not stop you from getting the separation and finality you need.
Talk to your divorce attorney about whether it’s best to inform your husband before serving him, or if it’s best for the news to come without precedence. Often times, your attorney will recommend having the preliminary steps for divorce completed before informing your husband, as it can be easier and more final to file for divorce before your husband anticipates it. This helps to avoid tension and any attempts from your husband to sway you, and also allows you to be prepared to get what you want from the divorce.
Most states have a minimum residency requirement in order to file for divorce, but if you’ve been living in the state for at least six months, you will likely be able to file. Go to the county courthouse or visit their website to learn how long it takes to get a divorce in your state, and which files you need. You’ll likely need a Family Law petition, which provides the court with information about your marriage and the orders you want the court to make, a Summons which describes information about the divorce process in your county, a Property Declaration form, and forms regarding child custody and visitation if you and your spouse have children.
Have a lawyer review these forms, as the filing process can become complicated and lengthy if the paperwork is not filed properly. If you don’t have or want a lawyer, check to see if your court has a family law facilitator or other resources that can help you. Once the files are filled out correctly, make copies and take the original forms to court to officially file them. The filing fee may cost up to several hundred dollars, but it varies in each state. There are usually fee waivers available if you cannot afford the divorce filing costs. Once this is done, you will need to have a friend or relative serve your husband with the divorce papers in order for the court to proceed.
Know What You Are Entitled To
Although you may want to receive a significant portion of anything your husband is hiding in his sock drawer, it’s important to know what you are actually entitled to so you know what to ask for. While you can argue for assets and alimony, you won’t be able to target separate property.
Community Property States
There are eight states in the U.S. that observe community property laws; if you’re a resident of Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Louisiana or Wisconsin, these laws will apply to you. If you’re part of the 25 percent of people who live in these states, any income received by either spouse or any property purchased with income during the marriage is considered community property, as well as any debts acquired during the marriage. In most contested divorces, community property is sold to be divided. The rest of the states follow equitable distribution laws, which mean property acquired during the marriage belongs to the spouse who earned it.
Pain and Suffering Awards
If your husband received pain and suffering awards from lawsuits during the marriage, you may be eligible to a portion of the settlement. However, if the compensation your spouse received was for “personal damages,” considering the settlement as your husband’s asset may be a smarter move. You won’t be eligible to receive the personal damage portion of the settlement, therefore if the entire asset belongs to your husband, you can potentially argue that your spouse has the ability to make a lump-sum alimony payment, which may get you more money than simply trying to split the settlement.
Divorce is an emotionally laborious process, and you deserve to be compensated for that. By finding a good lawyer to back you up and taking the proper steps to protect yourself throughout the divorce, you will be able to come out on top of after the divorce. Plan carefully for what you want, and think about the long term consequences the end of your marriage may have. By knowing what you’re entitled to, you won’t have to settle for less and you will be able to get everything you want out of the divorce and start looking ahead towards a brighter future.
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