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Separation and Divorce Guidebook

What You Absolutely Need To Know If You Have A Marriage Problem

By Jan L. Warner

Each year, as many people divorce (2.3 million) as there are marriages. More than 5 million men, women, and children are affected by separation and divorce each year.

So if you're thinking about separation and divorce or if you have a marriage problem, you must prepare yourself. In order to keep control of your life, you must learn to deal with the process in an informed way and to ask the right questions and get appropriate divorce advice. Although the legal aspects of custody, visitation, fault, division of property, alimony, and child support may vary from state to state, the following roadmap will apply no matter where you live.

The first step toward getting answers about your separation and divorce is finding out the right questions to ask -- before you go to a lawyer for divorce advice, if at all possible. The earlier you begin your planning after you know you have a marriage problem, the better. No matter where you are in the process -- divorced, separated, in litigation, just thinking about your options, or planning to get married -- the best time to begin to plan the rest of your life is NOW.

You can't afford to leave anything to chance because nothing is more difficult than trying to change the economic details of a divorce -- after it is over. If you don't organize and plan now, important details will slip through the cracks.

Separation and Divorce Tips

  1. Panic and emotions have no place in the decision making process. Understand your options, channel your energies, and then make informed decisions.

  2. The advice of friends and family will confuse you. If those who have "been through it" want to help you, ask them only one question: "If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?"

  3. Decide on your goals and then keep them in perspective. Your lawyer can't do it all for you. And if you lose control of your case, you lose control of your life and place yourself at the mercy of the judicial system.

  4. The cost of divorce can be staggering. Litigated divorces may take years and cost thousands of dollars. The more your have, the more you can lose. Sometimes you get so upset that you don't care what it costs ...until it's all over.

  5. Try to keep the channels of communication open with the other side. Try not to escalate an already excitable situation. Try to negotiate as many of the issues as you can after your are informed.

  6. A negotiated settlement lasts as long as those who make it want it to last. Many divorces result in last-minute settlements that are to no one's satisfaction. And that means the final decree is never final.

  7. If the court decides your case, you lose control of your options. And if you don't like the result, your only remedy may be a costly appeal that keeps your life in limbo.

  8. Fighting for principle -- or just to fight -- is a bad decision. It tends to begin a long-term war with adverse economic and emotional consequences. But that does not mean that you should give up important rights just to try to get the case over.

  9. Never sign an agreement without the advice of a lawyer. And never allow one lawyer to prepare an agreement for you and your spouse. You always need your own lawyer to give you divorce advice.

  10. Even the best economic result does not guarantee you security. What if a former spouse dies owing you alimony or support. And today, bankruptcy is being used more and more both during and after divorce to try to avoid obligations required by divorce courts. Bankruptcy during a divorce can mean that the divorce proceedings are put on hold until the bankruptcy is completed. Bankruptcy after divorce can destroy your settlement. Be sure to ask you lawyer.

Introduction ||  Preparing for your Separation or Divorce
Getting A Separation and Divorce Lawyer ||  Alternatives To Court
Read more about Separation and Divorce
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