So you’ve decided you are getting a divorce and now you may be wondering, what do I do next?
There are a lot of choices you have for what order to do things in now that you have decided to get a divorce. Depending on your personality, the first step might be to throw a party, scream in rage, or cry yourself to sleep. But after that, there are some more productive things you can do. This article is a step by step guide of what this lawyer would suggest doing.
First, find a divorce lawyer you can feel comfortable with.
I know it’s self serving for me, a divorce attorney, to tell you to hire a lawyer, but it really is the first thing you should do. I know a lot of people want to try to see if they can figure things out without a lawyer, but that is a mistake. There are so very many things that you need to consider, most of which you wouldn’t ever think could matter, that you really should start by consulting with a few Oregon divorce attorneys and finding one you feel able to trust. If you want, you can keep it secret from your spouse that you’ve contacted someone, in order to try and prevent them from rushing out and doing the same. But to skip the step of getting yourself a divorce attorney is truly a recipe for disaster.
You may find our article about what to look for in a divorce attorney to be a helpful guide in identifying someone you will work well with. Also check out our article about what you should be asking your divorce attorney but probably aren’t.
Second, develop a list of divorce goal containing what is most important to you.
For some people, this might be ensuring they get primary custody of their children. For others, it might be making sure they keep their retirement account. In any divorce you are going to have to make some choices about what to give up, and what you aren’t willing to give up on, so by starting early to decide what issues you need to prioritize, you and your family law attorney will be able to develop a strategy to set you up for getting those high priority things.
Third, plan out how to behave during the course of the divorce.
For some people, it might make sense to file paperwork quickly. For others, they might want to strategically work to place themselves in a better position before starting the divorce case. One of the reasons to hire a lawyer as your very first step, is so they can advise you whether you should take quick action to file the starting paperwork, or whether you need to engage in a political effort to place yourself in a more advantageous situation first.
Fourth, file whatever paperwork you need to.
There are a lot of options for what to file and what order to file it in, so you’ll have to figure out what paperwork makes sense for you to file with the court. But this step, the paperwork step, is the one that actually starts your divorce.
Fifth, gather evidence.
The most underrated step of your divorce case is preparing the documentation and evidence to support the things you want the judge to know. Sometimes it can take months to get certain documents, like if you have to subpoena your spouses medical records, or force the telephone company to produce old text messages. Early on in the process you should put together a list of what documents you need, then engage in the steps necessary to get those things.
Sixth, work on settling your divorce case.
For many people it makes sense to hire a mediator, for others that can be just a waste of time and money. Also, a lot of people want to start here, but skip the steps above, which can be a huge mistake. If you try to skip to the end, in an attempt to reduce stress, you often can end up losing out on some very important things. For example, if you don’t have the evidence organized to support you while in mediation, it may be harder to convince the other person to give you the type of deal you want. Also, if you don’t have a clear list of your priorities, you may end up conceding points that you later wish you hadn’t given up so easily.
Finally, present evidence to the judge.
If all else fails, you present your evidence to the judge and try to convince them to give you what you want. This is the day most people dread when starting their divorce, and fortunately, most people never have to do it. The vast majority of divorcees are able to settle their case through careful planning and negotiation. But if you aren’t so lucky, the judge is the all powerful tie-breaker, they get the final say in your outcome, so a good presentation can be the last line of defense to help you reach your divorce goals.
Our article 7 Things You Need to Know About Child Support may help answer some questions you may have about that. Or see our series of articles about creating a parenting plan for some help with what you might expect your custody agreement to look like.