If you are preparing for divorce this year, here are some resolutions you need to make and keep, in order to make sure that you start, and finish, the process as smoothly and cost-effectively, as possible.
1. Hire an attorney who exclusively practices matrimonial and family law. The attorney should have a track record which is known to judges and other attorneys alike. When selecting an attorney, focus on your ability to work with your lawyer and your lawyer’s ability to provide you with superior service. Often, the search is focused on finding the cheapest lawyer (but sometimes that backfires), or the lawyer who tells you the outcome you want to hear (also dangerous), but those types of focus points usually bare no fruit.
2. Get Organized. Your lawyer will need to provide the Court and your ex’s attorney with a host of financial documents. While it may seem overwhelming at first, begin the process of gathering these documents early. Gathering things like tax returns (three years’ worth), at least a year of paystubs, bank statements, credit card statements, employment contracts, deeds, etc. will help your lawyer comply with court rules and move your case along more easily. If you don’t have these documents, try ordering them from your bank, the Internal Revenue Service, the State Department of Taxation, your credit card company, your employer, etc. Having these documents ready, or ordered, will make your lawyers job easier. If your lawyer is technologically inclined, he or she will be able to accept these documents digitally, therefore cutting down on the expense of postage, copying..
3. Have your questions ready and be ready to take notes. I cannot tell you how much you can save in legal fees by being prepared with your specific questions for your attorney when you meet with or have a call with him or her. It is also just as important to take notes on your attorney’s answers or advice so that you may revisit them if the same or similar question arises in the future. Having these notes will allow you to save money on calls or meetings addressing the same issues.
4. Comply with deadlines and requests from your lawyer. Once your case is filed with the court and receives a court date, the deadlines will start to roll in. Most of the deadlines will relate to time frames within which you will have to exchange certain documents with your spouse’s attorney. It is imperative that you work with your attorney to make sure that all deadlines are met and that the Court views you as someone who is responsible and ready to comply with its orders.
5. Be Engaged. Sometimes the mere thought of the involvement in litigation causes fatigue. And when you are in the thick of it, there is no telling what emotions may come up. No matter what, it is important for you to stay engaged with your lawyer and their office. Remember, they are working for your good and need your assistance in order to provide you with the best possible service.
6. Keep your personal life, personal. Do you remember the saying: “never let the left hand know what the right hand is doing”? Well, that goes two-fold when you are involved in a divorce. You may be dating now and be excited about the new love in your life. If Your ex is not completely emotionally done with your relationship, your involvement in a new relationship may trigger reactions you haven’t anticipated. Thereby making your case more difficult. So, keep your new relationships at bay until your matter is settled.
Prioritizing these resolutions will get you started on the journey of turning fear into power when happily ever after fades away.