Ending a marriage or civil partnership can be a momentous event in anyone’s life. Whether you’re pursuing a divorce or a legal separation, you do your best to end everything the right way. Otherwise, your settlement might come back to bite you at some time in the future.
There can sometimes be a temptation to rush through a divorce just to get things over and done with or so that you don’t have to face up to the full consequences of the separation. But be too hasty, and you run the risk of signing away too much, agreeing to unfair or illegal conditions, or missing out on what’s rightfully yours.
It’s not always easy to do, but divorce is a time for clear heads, rational thinking, and considerate thinking. It’s most definitely not a time for choices ruled by your emotions. To ensure you make the right decisions in your divorce, here’s some clear guidance on how the legal process works, what your options are, and how to confirm there’s nothing nasty lurking in the fine print of your settlement.
If you’re considering a divorce, the first thing you need to check is the legal position of your state. This varies across the US, but many states require an initial cooling-off period before you can formally proceed to a divorce. Check, also, whether you live in one of the “no-fault” states, where you don’t need to provide proof of wrongdoing to divorce.
There are many different rules, stipulations, and forms to fill in before you can legally end your marriage. It’s hard work, and people often underestimate just how much graft is involved in preparing for divorce.
In general, all states prefer an uncontested divorce to reach an agreement without the need to go to court. An uncontested divorce is usually faster and less expensive, with less conflict and animosity. However, if you and your spouse can’t agree on a significant point, or if you feel strongly about a particular issue, then you can go to court and take your chances with a contested divorce.
It’s worth exploring all your options before making a final decision because divorce might not be the best solution for you. If there's a chance of reconciliation, for example, then you may be better off choosing a legal separation. That way, it’s much easier to get back together. And if the legal separation doesn't work out, you can still proceed to a divorce.
Once the exclusive preserve of the rich and famous, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements have become increasingly common in recent years. If you and your partner signed such an agreement, it kicks in when you begin to process your divorce.
Assuming that your agreement has been drawn up correctly, most courts will view the document as legally binding. You may be able to challenge some conditions, but that’s more the exception rather than the rule.
Anything you buy that’s cheap and fast is often substandard, and guess what? That’s also the case with online services promising a quick and easy divorce. If you understand all of your legal rights, have only been married a few months, have agreed on everything with your spouse, have a limited number of assets and debts to share: realize that legal professionals might not run online services, and accept that any mistakes may be impossible to rectify. Then, by all means, choose a quick and easy online divorce service.
However, there are plenty of stories of couples who chose a cheap and fast online divorce service, only to find out that it was the exact opposite. As is so often in life, you get what you pay for. That’s why most people in a divorce choose to use an experienced legal professional.
In the major events in our lives - a house purchase, a workplace termination case, or writing a will - we use the services of a lawyer to make sure whatever legal processes we enter into are both legal and in our best interests. The same applies to any agreement around your divorce. You want to ensure follows state law, is fair, and doesn’t have any unintended consequences.
If you come to an informal agreement with your spouse as part of your divorce, there’s a chance that it may not be legal or that specific terms could cause complications down the line, for example, concerning taxes.
It’s perfectly fine for you and your spouse to use a mediator to reach a fair and equitable agreement. In fact, it’s an excellent idea, and the mediator doesn’t necessarily have to be a legal professional. But to be sure, you should always get any agreement double-checked by a family lawyer. That way, you can be sure that your settlement is legal, watertight, and doesn’t contain any hidden horrors.
When you want a job done well, you employ a professional, and that’s assuredly the case when it comes to drawing up your divorce or separation agreement, where the devil is often in the detail. That’s why almost all divorcing spouses choose to work with an experienced family attorney. A trusted lawyer will navigate you through the process, carefully review all the terms and conditions, and make sure you negotiate the best possible settlement.
Perhaps more so than with any legal document, it pays to scrutinize the fine print in your divorce or separation agreement. You don’t want to sign up for unfair or illegal conditions or miss out on something that’s rightfully yours. If you know divorce law inside out, then you can review the settlement yourself. But, for everyone else, the safest option is to ask a qualified lawyer to verify the agreement for you. Request a free case assessment from Marble to speak to a family attorney about your specific needs.