When you are contemplating a divorce, there are some very important questions you should ask yourself. These questions can include: What do I need to do before I begin divorcing my spouse? What about my children; how do I protect them? What about my privacy and my assets?
Instead of pondering these questions, in our experience, most people’s initial step would be to immediately file for a divorce when their marriage is failing. Although this starts the process, you may want to consider some other steps to begin divorce proceedings before heading to the courthouse. It is important to think strategically about your purpose for filing a divorce and your desired outcome. In order to help you achieve the best outcome, in our experience, here are some things to begin a divorce:
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Before you file for a divorce, you may want to first think about how you would like your life to be after the divorce. Start identifying what is truly important while being realistic about the situation. If you have children, what type of custody agreement works for you? How will you split property and assets? Also, what about spousal support?
A top Bergen County, New Jersey divorce lawyer will be able to work with you to develop a custody plan that works for you and your former spouse. There are several child custody options in New Jersey to familiarize yourself with. Also, regarding property and assets, you should consider 401K investments, vacation homes, property or stock portfolios, and wine collections. Be as open and transparent as possible with your divorce attorney so they can work with you to develop a strategic settlement.
Alimony is another component of a divorce, and it is best to consider an appropriate spousal support amount. What are your financial commitments? Laws regarding alimony have changed significantly in recent years. You will need to seek advice on spousal support and begin planning for your future.
Discuss all of these items, and more, in your initial consultation with your divorce attorney. By doing so, you will be equipped to strategically file for divorce when the time is right for you. The next step is to choose a divorce lawyer.
- Choose the Right Divorce Attorney
One of the most important decisions you will make during this process is hiring the right attorney. You will need to depend upon this person, have confidence that they are there to answer your questions, and act promptly on your behalf. You will also need a lawyer who is smart and strategic–who knows when to fight and when to negotiate. Here are some things to consider when choosing your divorce attorney:
Find a Law Firm Dedicated to Divorce and Family Law: A law firm dedicated to family law will understand your situation and have a comprehensive knowledge of the proceedings specific to family court.
Avoid the “Shark” Attorney: There is a time to fight and a time to be reasonable. An overly-aggressive divorce attorney may make you feel powerful, but do not confuse an overly combative lawyer with a strong one. An attorney who thinks of litigation as your first or only option may have a bad reputation with the judge and may very well increase the tension between you and the other party. This will increase your costs and can often result in a worse outcome. The lawyer you choose has to be able to understand when to advocate for you vigorously and when to strategically negotiate.
- Schedule an Initial Consultation
After you have decided which divorce attorney to work with, be sure to schedule your first consultation. Confirm that you will be meeting with an attorney; not a practice manager. The goal is to leave the consultation feeling informed, confident, and to have a peace of mind about proceeding with a divorce.
At Burke Williams, LLC, located in Westwood, NJ, we encourage you to call us to schedule your initial divorce consultation. We are here to help with determining your goals and how to achieve them during the divorce process.
- Start to Gather Documents
While these documents are not necessary for your initial consultation, you should still gather all information you will need to proceed with your divorce or family law matter. These documents include:
- Financial information: Savings, retirement, property, bills, legal agreements, insurance information
- For post-judgement matters, a good starting point would be to compile your judgement of New Jersey divorce, marital settlement agreement, previously filed case information statement, and any existing post-divorce court orders
- Regarding alimony and child support, collect recent paystubs, tax returns, and other financial records. Keep track of all assets and liabilities. File this information away in a safe place in order to be able to quickly access them when needed.
By following the steps mentioned above, you will likely be better organized and well-equipped to handle divorce proceedings.
If you reside in Bergen County, New Jersey, and face the possibility of divorce, to learn more, ask questions, and seek guidance, give Bergen County, New Jersey Super Lawyer‘s Nominated Rising Star Sheena Burke Williams Esq. a call at (201) 497-8700.
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