A divorce action plan should include many things but most of all it should be well thought through.
The first phase before filing for divorce is to determine if your marriage is really over. This is the time to take heart with your spouse to ask have both of you done all you can do or all you are going to do. Are you in marriage counseling or have you tried marriage counseling? Once the decision is made make it clear to your spouse that this is what needs to take place.
Phase two is to start your financial planning where you begin to gather information about what are your assets and debts and Income and expenses. Begin compiling all your bank statements, credit card statements, retirement statements and any other financial asset information that is available. As part of this gathering takes time to do a little historical overview to determine if either of you received or have any separate assets, this will probably require help from a family law attorney, so make a note to inquire about this.
Phase three it is time to determine the divorcing options available to you. Are the two of you candidates for Divorce Mediation? Or better suited for a Collaborative divorce? Is the conflict such that the two of you need separate attorneys?
Phase four. Once you have made the decision the next process is to begin the divorce paperwork. This starts with filing of a Petition for the Divorce. The first papers are primarily to open the case in the court and obtain a case number. It is important to understand that the assertions made in the Petition for divorce are not an agreement and can cause conflict if not done properly. This is why having the right legal counsel to help you begin this process is so important.
Phase Five: Its time to complete a Declaration of Disclosure including a Schedule of Assets and Debts and an Income and Expense Declaration. Much of the financial and historical information you gathered in phase two will be used for this next step. It is important to disclose everything and ask that everything be disclosed from the other side. These forms have a serious legal significance and it is well worth the investment to seek the advice of a divorce attorney to help you complete them or to review your work.
Phase Six: Building the Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA). If possible it is best to work with your spouse to establish a Marital Settlement Agreement also known as MSA. This agreement will include how you intend to share your children’s time including a physical child custody and legal child custody agreement. (See our blog on Child Custody to learn more about this). The agreement will also state how you want to divide your assets and debts. If there is a retirement account it may need to be divided by a Qualified Domestic Relations Order QDRO. The MSA will also include any support agreement for spousal support or child support. To be sure that you have a legal binding agreement and have covered all the marital issues in the MSA I highly recommend you see a divorce or family law attorney to help you write this agreement.
Phase seven; processing the MSA and the other necessary documents to the court. It seems only reasonable that after completing an MSA you could just send it to the court. This is not so. In order to send an MSA to the court it must be accompanied by other court required documents including but not limited to; Judgment; Notice of Entry of Judgment; Declaration re: Service of the Declaration of Disclosure; an Appearance Stipulation and Waiver; and a Declaration of Uncontested divorce. These documents need to be prepared based on local rules. I recommend that you seek legal counsel to be sure this is done correctly.
Carol Delzer At Family Law Center can provide you with the legal help to process your divorce in an inexpensive and efficient manner. We will do our best to make the divorce process as seamless and easy as we can for you. Call Carol at Family Law Center for a consultation with one of our divorce or family law attorneys.
Call Carol Now 916 488-5088 also visit: www.FamilyLawCenter.US