The timing of the divorce process is confusing to many people thinking about initiating a divorce. They ask:
- Do I need to file something with a court to begin the divorce process?
- What is the impact and meaning of separating from my spouse?
- How do I prove the separation?
- How am I protected if I don’t have anything in writing?
- What should my first steps be?
The short answer to these questions is that the divorce process can start in a number of different ways, but you have a lot of control over how it starts depending on your particular goals developed within your unique situation. For example, if it is important to you to minimize animosity and reduce the amount of conflict between yourself and your spouse, and if you want to keep your legal fees down, then you will likely want to avoid springing a surprise on your spouse by taking actions such as closing the credit cards or moving assets. Similarly, if it is important to you to keep your children out of the middle of parental conflict, then you will likely want to open a dialogue to develop a joint plan with your spouse to tell your children about the upcoming changes in the family.
For most people, the first step in implementing a separation and divorce is finding a family law attorney who will handle their divorce in a fashion that is consistent with their core values and goals. In the initial meeting with that attorney, all of the client’s questions about what steps to take and when to take them can be addressed, and a preliminary plan can be developed. But a key fact to know is that in most divorces, the process does not start with a court filing. Instead, the first step is most often a conversation between the spouses to begin acknowledging the breakdown of the marriage. The next step is to begin making plans for how to proceed. However, note that where the marital dynamic includes violence and/or coercive control, a different approach must be taken and careful safety planning with your attorney is a must.
To get your questions answered about how to begin your divorce process, schedule a meeting with an experienced family law attorney who can help you develop a comprehensive plan.