Most people do not recognize the legal complexities and difficulty surrounding divorce law. A complicated business relationship encompassing contracts, property, civil litigation is wrapped up in a family drama that can include scorn, heartbreak, adultery, and children. Divorce and separation should be dealt with all of the delicacy of a hand grenade with the pin already pulled, because if not it can blow up in your face and more than just the parties involved can get hurt.
If you will excuse my dramatics and metaphors, divorce is hard, and attorneys at Dozier Miller can help you through this time. This list is a starting point for anyone considering a separation or divorce. And before a person ends up in a situation feeling lost and disoriented.
- Consult with an Attorney
The first thing that you should do if you are considering a divorce or separation is to consult with a reputable Charlotte Divorce attorney. Even a “small” marital estate is likely to deal with tens of thousands of dollars in assets/debts when you consider the marital home, child support obligations, alimony payments, and the distribution of bank accounts and retirements. An experienced family law attorney can help you understand your rights and ensure that you are prepared to move forward with the difficult transition to separation and eventually divorce.
- Focus on your kids
A divorce is difficult and breaking up a family is not an ideal situation but psychologists contend that although divorce is hard for children, a bad marriage is always toxic for kids. A bad marriage can leave kids with stress and tension, low self-esteem, and fear of intimacy from traumas that occurred between parents. Don’t put them in the middle of the divorce and allow them to be pitted against you or your spouse. Don’t prioritize time with them and if you have been the secondary parent in the past take a bigger role. Now is the time to focus on your children and not drag them into adult problems that could affect them and your custody arrangements in the future.
- Ignore your friends and family
All marriages are unique, all families are unique, and likewise so are divorces. Our friends and family want what is best for us especially in a period of trauma like a divorce and although their advice may be well intentioned it comes from their own subjective experience of divorce not objective advice. “The Judge said this in my case” and “my lawyer told me that…” does not apply to your divorce. Lean on your family for emotional support not legal counsel.
- Consider your finances and create a budget
If you are considering a divorce or a separation, resources are about to become tight. Rent, utilities, and food will not be cut in half because you no longer live with your spouse. Start running a budget to determine where your money is going and understand your spending habits. This is helpful as you begin gathering documents for your attorney to determine how best to calculate child support, alimony, and to divide your property in equitable distribution. It can also help you prioritize your divorce case and determine where you want your attorney to focus their efforts. Not every case needs dozens of subpoenas and days or weeks of trial. If you understand the resources that you have, they can be effectively used to obtain a positive result.
- Behave like a Judge is watching (and listening)
That nasty text message you want to send to your wife listing all the reasons you are leaving, the Facebook post telling the world how he cheated and why he is a terrible father: DON’T DO IT! It will not be nearly as clever when you have to read it aloud in court. As they say, you can’t delete the internet and if you are involved in a divorce case your attorney should be informing you that you are required to keep those messages and posts. Don’t let your own words be used against you later.
- Do not immediately move out of the home
North Carolina’s Alimony statute describes factors to consider in determining alimony including marital misconduct. Abandonment is defined as marital misconduct and whether you believe that you may be entitled to receive alimony or required to pay alimony, abandoning the marital home could impact your alimony. You should speak to a divorce attorney before moving out of the house!
- Don’t act out of spite towards your spouse
You’re hurt, which is completely understandable. But I promise giving most of your share of the marital funds to your attorney to harass your spouse won’t make you feel better in the long term. I tell my clients often that spite is one of the biggest areas that they can control the cost of their divorce (and unless you’re a cartoon supervillain you likely have an end in mind for your divorce and not to just watch the marriage figuratively burn). Also remember the Judge from number 5? She is still listening.
- Consult with an attorney
Did I mention this already? The best way to prepare for your divorce or separation is to discuss your unique situation with an experienced family law and divorce attorney.
Dozier Miller has been practicing law dealing with divorce issues for 40 years and have several attorneys ready to help you through this difficult journey. Call Dozier Miller and let us help you.