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Divorce

A divorce can be one of the most difficult experiences a person ever faces. The emotional impact ending a relationship is difficult enough, but the financial and lifestyle changes that result can be just as traumatic. For most people, divorce is the biggest financial transaction they ever face.

If you're reading this but not going through a divorce, continue reading. It shouldn't take a divorce before you take control of your finances. You may not be in the best emotional shape at that point to make the decisions you need to make. Make them now. Even if you never get divorced, you will be in a much better financial position.

If you are going through a divorce, you're not alone. Statistics suggest that nearly half of all marriages end up in divorce. During this difficult time, it's important that a couple cooperate to work out the financial aspect of the relationship.

It's time to clean house and reorganize. If your spouse has been taking care of the money, now is the time to take control of your own finances.

Do You Need a Lawyer?

In most cases, a lawyer will be required to guide an individual through a divorce. Attorney fees will be costly. Only rarely does a divorce end to the satisfaction of both parties through the efforts of a mediator.

On the other hand, if both spouses are fairly amicable and willing to reach agreement, you may be able to divorce without litigation. If you and your spouse are able to agree, chances are good you'll be able to handle your divorce yourselves. You simply split your common assets, file the correct papers and, in some cases, go in front of a judge to tell him why you are divorcing. But rarely are divorces this simple. Splitting assets alone can be complicated. When you and your spouse can't agree on things together, instead of litigation, consider mediation or collaborative divorce, which helps the two of you work together with trained professionals to solve the problems of property division and custody arrangements. If you can't agree, litigation will become necessary. You definitely want a lawyer for any kind of litigation.

Even if you and your spouse are divorcing on very cordial terms, it can be hard to decide what's fair for both of you. A lawyer can be an advocate to help you make tough decisions.

It is best to reduce your agreement to writing, then take it to a lawyer and have the lawyer prepare a formal Separation Agreement that reflects what you and your spouse have agreed to. The Separation Agreement will cover a lot of issues that you and your spouse, not being legally trained, have simply overlooked or not thought about. It should help to clarify points, which you and your spouse have not been clear about. Once the Separation Agreement has been prepared and you understand it, give it to your spouse and have them take it to a different lawyer to be reviewed. This is crucial because things can go awry and you both want to make sure that you had competent, independent advice at the time you signed your Separation Agreement.

Finding a Lawyer

Finding a good lawyer is important. You want someone you can trust to guide you through this rough period of your life. There is no specific time limit on how long the divorce process can last, so choose a lawyer with whom you'll be comfortable for a long time.

Donít use the same lawyer that your spouse uses. Even though everyone involved may have good intentions, it can make for some very difficult situations. Ask recently divorced friends about their lawyers. If they had a good experience, you might want to interview that attorney. If you have worked with lawyers in other legal matters, ask them for a recommendation. Often lawyers know other lawyers outside of their own specialty.

No matter who recommended the lawyer you're considering, check their credentials and qualifications carefully. You're not looking for the cheapest lawyer you can find. You're looking for the best person to represent your interests in your divorce.

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