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Is there anything I should immediately do if I think I may need a divorce?

Gather as much financial information about your spouse as possible (paystubs, bank statements, tax returns, mortgage info, retirement and investment account info, etc.), keep a log of significant events that you may need to accurately recount later, and consult an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Some preparation and putting a reliable plan in place now can save you money and aggravation later.

What’s the divorce process?

A complaint is filed, the other party is served with a summons and a copy of the complaint, and the case begins. If an issue requires immediate attention (i.e. child custody/visitation/support or alimony), the parties may go to court for temporary orders. During the next phase, information - usually financial - is exchanged between the parties and there are negotiations. If the case is resolved, an agreement is signed and the divorce finalized. If any issues are unresolved, the case proceeds to trial.

How should I search for an attorney?

This decision could mean the difference between walking away from a marriage with a favorable arrangement and financial stability or struggling for years to come. Use the internet to research attorneys: their reviews, qualifications, and past client experiences. Ask people you trust for recommendations. And hire an attorney that focuses on divorce practice.

How does alimony work?

Alimony is the payment of spousal support usually from the higher earning party to the other. It’s determined by considering a number of factors, including incomes of the parties, length of the marriage, contributions of the parties to the marriage, and other assets they will keep, to name a few. Alimony is more likely when the marriage was longer and there’s a large disparity in income between the parties. However, alimony is less likely to be ordered when the requesting party is already receiving child support - especially if the parties earn less than $250,000 combined.

What do I do if I need a court order changed?

You must file a complaint for modification, asking the court for the necessary changes. Seeking a consultation with a family law attorney is advisable before filing.

What can I do if the other party isn’t abiding by a court order?

You may file a complaint for contempt, asking the court to order the other person to usually either do something or pay money. Seeking a consultation with a family law attorney is advisable before filing.

How long to wait to date after separation?

There’s no magic number as to how long to wait before introducing a child to a new significant other after separation between parents. But, generally, parents should wait some time before introducing the children to significant others. Separation can be traumatizing to children, and seeing parents with new significant others so quickly after a split can be confusing and disruptive to a child. Specifically how long to wait depends on the overall cooperation of the parents, the stability of the child, the age and maturity of the child, and whether the child has a counselor or other individual to help the child understand the changes in family dynamics, among other factors. As a rule of thumb, a party should wait at least a few months after separation before introducing the child to a significant other.

How to respond to a divorce summons?

Immediately contact an attorney. You have 20 days to respond to the complaint with your position on the divorce and to make requests yourself - the document to file is called an answer and counterclaim. Although this deadline can be extended under certain circumstances, it’s best to act quickly. By the time you receive a divorce summons, you probably should’ve already contacted an attorney, but if you haven’t, you should certainly act quickly once you’re served to ensure you respond in a timely manner and begin to plan your strategy.

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