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, No. 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 both desire to negotiate a fair and equitable resolution without ever having to step foot in court, keeping the overall cost of the divorce to a minimum. It is necessary under some circumstances, however, to seek court intervention in order to safeguard certain rights, gain protection from domestic violence or obtain temporary financial support while you work towards a resolution.
How well will you and your spouse work together to dissolve your marriage and divide the marital estate? Are you on the same page regarding custody of and access to the children, and the payment of child support? Is there a power imbalance that could result in a lopsided resolution? These factors, amongst many others, will determine which option works best for your situation.
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. A warning, however, mediators do not represent either party or ensure that each party gets what they are entitled to under the law, and agreements arrived at through mediation could end up costing you more money in the long-run. It is still important to have sound legal advice to guide you through the mediation process.
- 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 will form the basis for an uncontested divorce action, without you ever having to go to court.
- A contested divorce results when the parties cannot agree on the terms of a divorce. They are not necessarily fighting over being divorced, but require the court to resolve some or all of the issues involving support, custody, access, distribution of marital property and liabilities. While most contested divorce actions ultimately settle before trial, the Judge can and will preside over a divorce trial where one or both parties become so entrenched in their positions that it becomes impossible to reach a workable agreement.
Divorce Tip No. 2:
What are grounds for Divorce?
Most divorces in New York are based upon the ‘irretrievable breakdown’ of the relations, this States version of a ‘no fault divorce’. To obtain a divorce on this grounds, one party only need swear or affirm that the relationship has broken down for a period of six months or more. The other party cannot challenge this statement, and there is no requirement to provide proof. What is required, however, is that all of the issues involved in the divorce must be addressed in a Separation Agreement or by the court after a trial.
Divorce Tip No. 3:
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 the child’s parent. One of the major factors the court considers when determining custody is which parent can best foster a relationship with the other parent.
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 have to pay for. If your finances are limited, it may be less expensive to address custody and access 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.
Divorce Tips, No. 4:
Know your Financial Landscape
After the issue of custody, fights over money can lead to contentious and expensive divorce proceedings. One tip is to know and understand your finances, including income, expenses, savings, retirements, and debt for both parties, before the divorce action is commenced. 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. Marriage is an economic partnership just as with a business, and a divorce is the dissolution of that partnership. The more you know about your finances, the better positioned you will be able to protect your interests during negotiations or litigation.
Divorce Tips, No. 5:
Consult and Hire an Experienced Attorney
Do your homework and hire an experienced attorney you are comfortable with. 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. Going through a divorce can be deeply personal, so you want an attorney you can trust and feel comfortable with discussing all aspects of your relationship with your spouse, your children and your finances, as well as what you want from your future.
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.