Deciding to get divorced is not an unusual New Year’s resolution. Once the holidays are over, many people are ready to learn about divorce as a means to make a fresh start and create a more satisfying life.
Because it is a legal arrangement, it takes a legal process to dissolve your marriage. As a divorce lawyer in Baltimore, I work daily with individuals ready to begin a new chapter of their lives. While each life and each divorce are unique, there are some basic steps everyone can take at the outset to improve the divorce process and outcome.
A lot of people do not have the chance to prepare for divorce — it is just suddenly on the table.
However, if you do have time, these five steps will help you get grounded, informed, and aware of the transition ahead:
- Know your financial condition: You can make better decisions for yourself and your family if you have a good idea of your present financial condition. Ensure you have current copies of bank, credit card, investment, and retirement accounts, as well as your tax returns for several years and other financial statements. If you and your spouse own real or other valuable property, obtain copies of deeds, appraisals, and other accounting documents. Review your credit report and ensure that you have credit established in your own name.
- Envision your lifestyle: During separation and after divorce, how will you live? Are you in school, or working full-time to support your family? If you have children, are they established in school yet? Divorce may mean a change in lifestyle. Where would you like to live? Develop a rough budget and take a hard look at whether you can afford your new lifestyle. Comparing your hopes with the realistic picture provided by your financial documents can help you better understand your choices.
- Talk to an experienced divorce attorney: In Baltimore or elsewhere, speaking to an attorney when you have your financial documents in hand can provide needed guidance on how to proceed, given your unique situation and the laws of Maryland. An attorney can answer your urgent questions and help you structure your divorce in a way that may help fulfill your needs and wants.Remember, speaking with a lawyer in a different area of legal practice is not the same as talking to a family law attorney who works only in the field of domestic law. Since your future may depend on the decisions you make during divorce, be sure you work with a reputable, experienced divorce attorney.
- Understand the timing of divorce: When you speak with an attorney, ask for a walk-through of the divorce process and the timing required for an “absolute” divorce in Maryland. Not only will you better understand the road ahead, but you can better prepare yourself for the sometimes frustrating, usually emotional, process of divorce. If you know from the outset that your divorce is not likely to be amicable, mention that to your attorney, and ask about the routes toward divorce, including negotiation, mediation, or litigation. Step back from any large financial or other lifetime decisions while you are preparing for or initiating a divorce. If you have children, the timeline for divorce will likely be longer, unless you and your partner are in agreement on parenting time and custody.
- Start thinking about change: With a good understanding of your finances, an experienced attorney, and an idea of what the immediate future is going to look like, you have created solid ground for moving forward. As you discuss divorce with your partner, be respectful and remember not to make any agreements or sign documents without speaking with your attorney first. If you have children, do not disparage your partner, their parent. Your children will need both of you to move successfully into their future as well.
Being prepared for divorce makes the process easier and gives you and your family a good start on a better tomorrow.
Talk to an experienced divorce attorney in Baltimore
When you are thinking about divorce, contact the Law Offices of Allyson B. Goldscher, LLC. A lifelong resident of Baltimore and member of the Bar Association of Baltimore City, Ms. Goldscher is a local, experienced attorney practicing solely in the area of family and domestic law. Contact us today.