Last Updated on June 10, 2022 by Fair Punishment Team
At a fundamental level there are two possible ways to file for divorce: 1) Hire an attorney, or 2) Do it yourself.
When it comes to hiring an attorney, you need to perform due diligence to make sure you are hiring the right attorney for your case. There are a number of important considerations you should keep in mind when choosing an attorney (choose the best lawyer).
1) What is the retainer and fees that the attorney requires and can you afford it?
2) what is the temperament of the attorney and do you feel a personal connection to the attorney?
3) Does the attorney have a clear strategy outlined and do you agree with what they are proposing?
4) Does the attorney have any bar complaints against them or are there any red flags giving you cause for concern?
5) Is the attorney too busy to take your case? 6) Does the attorney have 5-7 years of experience as a family law attorney?
Certainly, there are other things as well, but as you consult with various attorneys, keep these considerations in mind to ensure you’re finding an attorney that is the right fit for your case.
When it comes to doing it yourself, there are two basic possibilities. 1) Head to the courthouse and ask for a divorce packet. Upon receipt, fill out the documents as best you can and file it with the court. 2) Find an online divorce service that will help you prepare the paperwork to be filed in court.
While these options are the big picture ways to actually accomplish a divorce, the following article discusses important steps and considerations to keep in mind as you are getting ready to file your case.
This article is a great starting point for informational purposes, but if you have legal questions about divorce, it’s always best to consult with a competent attorney in your area. This article is not legal advice.
Evaluate Joint Financial Accounts
It’s typical that as a divorce is looming, one spouse will “steal” or drain the other spouse’s bank account, or the joint marital account. This can be an angry reaction to finding out about impending divorce, or it can be advice received from a divorce attorney during a consultation. In any event, you should take steps to protect financial accounts. This might mean putting money into a blocked account in your name only, or setting up a joint account to require two signatures before any funds are released. In almost every state, there is a presumption that each party is going to get half the marital assets. Sometimes, one spouse will equally divide a joint account in anticipation of divorce, or to protect their portion of the assets.
Gather evidence of income
There are several reasons why you need the other spouse’s income information as part of a divorce. The reasons generally relate to issues around child support and spousal support also known as alimony. For instance, in Oregon a child support calculator is used to determine the amount of child support obligation that one spouse will owe to the other. The calculator considers how many overnights each parent is going to have, what their income is presently, certain expenses (daycare, union dues, insurance) and whether they have any non-joint children. When it comes to calculating spousal support the court is going to look at the needs of the parties and the ability to pay of the parties. Evidence of income comes in many forms such as paystub‘s, W-2s and tax returns, and income from any source derived (online businesses and side jobs).
Organize your finances
As you organize your finances, you’ll also need to get a handle on your assets. One of the ways that it’s easiest to get a firm understanding of your finances is to try and make a list of all of your financial accounts. For instance, your retirement accounts, bank accounts, stocks, money owed to you from any source, and all related passwords to these accounts. You’ll want to print out a most recent statement showing the current account balances for all these accounts. Along with financial accounts you want to get an idea of all of your other assets and related expenses to those assets. If you own a car but there’s a loan on it, you’ll want to know the value of the vehicle and the debt that is still owed. If you have a motorhome with a debt, you’ll want to figure out the same thing. Some other assets of value that are somewhat common in divorces that will require an accounting as well or things like tools, firearms, art, furniture and appliances.
If you are not able to get all of the information in the beginning or before separation you will have to wait to get these helpful documents as required through a request for production during the actual case.
How much does online divorce cost?
Online divorce services range from things like a mediated marital settlement agreement to separation and divorce services. As of 2022, costs range from $149-$2,500 with those costs typically being split between the spouses. These costs don’t usually include things like filing fees and costs for notarization. Many services offer a flat fee for services while others have a re-occurring subscription cost that can be canceled. One thing that you may hear from an attorney during a consultation is that the cost of a divorce is often completely dependent on the agreement or disagreement of the parties. If one of the parties is being unreasonably difficult it makes it almost impossible to come to a negotiated resolution and very likely the parties will need to end up in court before the case is resolved. To the extent that the parties are in agreement substantially on what the property division is going to be (and if there are children with the parenting time plan and custody agreement is) then using online services for the actual paperwork can make sense.
Every logistic you need to know
Divorce is more complicated than a regular significant other separation. If for instance you are boyfriend and girlfriend, and not married, walking away is typically fairly easy (other than emotional baggage). This point is fairly obvious, but bears mentioning. Finances are intertwined. But so to are relationships with friends and family. Logistically speaking the first thing that needs to happen is that the parties have decided that divorce is the best or only option. Once that decision is made spouses need to take steps to protect themselves financially in the divorce. At the same time if one spouse is in danger, they’ll have to make an action plan for getting the safety. Action plans often include taking important key documents such as birth certificates, titles and passwords in the days leading up to actual separation. A careful spouse will also consider taking anything irreplaceable items such as one-of-a-kind family heirlooms and pictures. This requires a person to really think about original items depending on where they are actually located. Sometimes, the spouse will have to make a mental list without actually looking for the items. There are two common ways that a person will deal with the logistics of a divorce: #1 Talk to an attorney and let them handle the ins and outs of the complicated process and #2 Make a list with all of the steps that require you to get from point A to point B; point A being where you are now and point B being the final divorce decree and judgment. Suffice it to stay there’s a lot of steps between point A and point B.
Close all joint credit accounts
It’s recommended that before you separate, if you’re able to, you should pay off and close all joint credit lines. In the majority of situations this is not possible because people are living from paycheck to paycheck and have accumulated debts as part of their marriage. But to the extent that it is possible minimizing and closing these accounts will reduce debts and argument during the divorce.
Keep in mind: closed accounts can’t be charged on.
Find a good divorce lawyer
If you’re not going to attempt to do it yourself (your situation doesn’t make sense because of too much disagreement) your best bet is to find a good attorney to help you out with your case. A brief list appears at the beginning of this article and is worth repeating here. 1) What is the retainer and fees that the attorney requires and can you afford it? 2) what is the temperament of the attorney and do you feel a personal connection to the attorney? 3) Does the attorney have a clear strategy outlined and do you agree with what they are proposing? 4) Does the attorney have any bar complaints against them or are there any red flags giving you cause for concern? 5) Is the attorney too busy to take your case? 6) Does the attorney have 5-7 years of experience as a family law attorney?
Finding an attorney that’s experienced and knows the judges in your area is one of the most valuable things that an attorney can provide in your case. More than just knowing the law by knowing the judges and how they’re going to rule attorneys can provide you with key insights on what to argue, what not to argue, and what the results of your case are likely going to be to save you lots of time money, headache, heartache, and hassle.
Set Your Post-Divorce Budget
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you will be going from a two spouse or two income household into a single income household. That means that what was once two incomes for one house is now one income for one house each. This means that money will be thinner and spread out to a lot more items every month, every week, every day. Preparing and sticking to a budget is a key part of ensuring independence moving forward.
Budgeting is more than just identifying costs, it’s making sure that bills are timely paid. In this day in age, there is almost no excuse for having a late payment with auto-payment options.
How to choose an Online Divorce Provider?
There are online service providers that offer their services nationwide, however you’ll want to search to make sure that the services they provide are specific to your state. Most of the online divorce services have on their website links with specific details about what services they provide and what services they don’t provide. Although services are available online there’s always the backup option of going to an attorney.
Online divorce is a legal, inexpensive and efficient option if you and your spouse agree on the issues in your divorce
Most states have a step-by-step guide available for how the divorce process works and what forms that you’re going to need. Using online divorce services when the spouses agree is a legal and typically less stressful way to get a divorce done while keeping costs to a minimum. This avoids one main issue common too many couples facing separation, high cost. Again, these services are generally only reliably available if the parties are in agreement. Using these online services is one way to avoid the cost of a divorce lawyer however if you have legal questions or the parties are in disagreement it’s recommended that you consult with an attorney
Is Online Divorce Right for You?
Online divorces are best for uncontested divorce. When it comes to issues of drug use, abandonment, adultery or complex legal issues like custody, parenting time, child support, spousal support (or any other similar contested issues) online divorce services are not the best method. Check the site to see it covers the basics of the type of divorce papers you’re seeking.
Establish Credit In Your Own Name
Establishing credit in your name rather than the name of both spouses is often an important step for financial independence and being able to take loans out for higher ticket items after the divorce. For example, if a spouse is going to need to get a new car or a new house and it’s going to require a loan. Even if the spouse wants to continue to keep a care powered under the previous terms of a loan, they’ll need to improve their independent credit score and possibly have another friend or family member act a co-signer on the existing loan. Taking steps to get credit into your own name is going to be necessary in order to qualify for those types of loans post-divorce at a later date.
Is online divorce legal?
The short answer is yes. So long as the forms comply and comport to the local rules and state rules and the judge signs your final divorce decree then your divorce will be legal, final, and binding. If you’re hesitant about the legality of an online divorce, it’s best to talk to an attorney
Tell me the difference between divorce and online divorce?
A divorce is a divorce, but an online divorce gives you the forms you need directly from a website, rather than needing to go down to the court. You’ll have to research the online service you are using to determine filing requirements, filing fees and notarization. But, online divorce is a method for simplifying the process and explaining the procedure to folks. Online divorce is a do it your self method rather than an attorney driven divorce method.
What is the first step when you want a divorce?
How do I get divorced? The first step is to decide that a divorce is what you need. Next, you need to take the steps discussed in this article about protecting assets and preparing to leave. It’s also recommended that you talk to an attorney if you have specific questions or the divorce is contested. Legally, the first step is to file the petition (filing for divorce) for divorce with your local court clerk (note, usually this is a district court or circuit court).
What are the five stages of divorce?
1) Attempt and fail to resolve marital issues. Emotionally resolved to getting a divorce
2) Research and prepare for initial filing, take steps to protect yourself legally and emotionally. Finalize budgeting issues, close accounts.
3) File the divorce, serve the other spouse with divorce papers (service of process), sort out who’s living where. The served spouse must provide a response to the court or face default on the original text terms in the petition form.
4) Complete the legal process whether in a court with the judge, or through a negotiated outcome.
5) Once completed, get a copy of your judge signed divorce decree.