There are many factors to contemplate when considering a divorce. Our divorce tips will help you be aware of the impact a divorce will have on you, your children, finances, taxes, insurance and property.
Here are some key factors to consider before filing for divorce:
Divorce Tips, #1:
Consider your Options
There are many ways to approach a divorce. Divorces can be as amicable or as contentious as the parties make them. You may desire to proceed amicably and negotiate a fair and equitable resolution with your spouse without ever having to step foot in court. However, under some circumstances, it is necessary to quickly pursue court intervention in order to protect certain rights. How well will you and your spouse work together to dissolve your marriage and marital assets? Are you on the same page regarding the children? These factors may require you to hire professionals such as social workers, financial experts and the like.
Some of your options include:
- Mediation is a neutral and private forum used to facilitate communication between parties in the hopes of promoting a mutually acceptable resolution or settlement. However, agreements arrived at through mediation may end up costing you more money in the end. Often, it is to your advantage to have sound legal advice when it comes to the negotiation of an agreement.
- A Separation or Settlement Agreement is a legally binding contract signed by both parties which is intended to resolve equitable distribution of assets and debts, the payment or waiver of maintenance, and child-related issues. This can be a very complex and detailed document depending on your unique situation. Once the parties have entered into the binding agreement, that agreement can be the basis for a divorce action without ever having to go to court.
- Contested – both parties do not agree on the terms of a divorce. They are not necessarily fighting over being divorced; they just need help to work out all of the issues of support, visitation, distribution of marital properties and assets.
Divorce Tips, #2:
What are grounds for Divorce?
In 2010, New York joined the majority of the country in passing the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ provision which is New York’s version of ‘no fault divorce.’ So what does this mean to you? Rather proof of grounds for divorce, all that is required is a sworn statement that the marriage has been ‘irretrievably broken down’ for a period of at least six months.
The New York state matrimonial attorneys no longer need to plead the following grounds for divorce; today most divorce filings only plead the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ provision in the complaint.
- living separate and apart under a written separation agreement for a period of one year or more;
- cruel, and inhuman treatment: mental or physical cruelty;
- abandonment or sexual abandonment for one year; or
Divorce Tips, #3:
Know your Financial Landscape
Know your finances, including income, expenses, savings, retirements, and debt for both parties. Determine the costs associated with your home, including utilities, property maintenance, mortgage, and insurance. You need to have an understanding of your monthly expenses and income. Do you have equity in your home? What is your home’s current value? Know the amount of debt you and your spouse have. Divorce is about dissolving an economic partnership. The more you know about your finances the quicker your divorce litigation or settlement negotiations will be.
Divorce Tips, #4:
Divorce will have an impact on your children. We always recommend that you do not involve your children in any way in your divorce. Do not tell your children details of your divorce and do not disparage your spouse in the presence of your children. Remember, your soon to be ex is still your child’s parent. One of the major factors the court considers when determining custody and visitation is which parent can best co-parent and foster a relationship with the non-custodial parent. The children should be insulated as much as possible.
Custody litigation can be costly, because in addition to generating more attorney fees, it also involves the use of psychologists and neutral attorneys for your children that you and your spouse will be court-ordered to pay for. If your finances are limited, it may be less expensive to address custody and visitation in family court, because these additional expenses are often lower there. Importantly, to do that, you must file in family court before anyone files for divorce. Weigh these options with your attorney and you’ll be better prepared to make a decision that is right for you.
Be patient. If you and your spouse agree on how to dissolve your marriage, your divorce can happen quickly and smoothly. However, it doesn’t happen overnight. If you and your spouse have a litigious divorce, it can take well over a year before a resolution is reached.
Divorce Tips, #5:
Consult and Hire an Experienced Attorney
Do your homework. Hire an experienced attorney you are comfortable with. Most attorneys charge a reduced fee for a one-hour consultation and in some cases, no fee at all if you elect to hire that attorney. It is well worth the expense because it can save you a lot of time and money down the road. Come to the consultation prepared with your questions to ensure that you get all the answers you need. Bring your tax returns, investment accounts, bank statements, checking accounts, credit card statements and a snapshot of your household expenses. Ask questions about the fees and if there will be additional fees should you need to go to a hearing or trial. Divorce is personal so you want an attorney you can trust and feel comfortable with discussing your finances, children and your future. The laws change frequently, and in fact, the maintenance guidelines have recently changed so be wary of the information you find on the internet as it probably isn’t current. Try not to compare your situation with the circumstances of others. No two divorces are alike.
Martin Butcher is senior counsel with the firm and practices Family, and Matrimonial. He can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.