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What to Expect

the legal process
Don't expect to get everything you want. On the other hand, don't expect to get nothing you want. The very nature of family law is compromise. That's because the intention of family law is to create equity between you and your (fill-in-the-blank) spouse and to ensure that your children are provided with a new family structure that works best for them.

While the laws and statutes were created to reflect the values of our society and culture, sometimes the application in individual cases may seem a little unfair. Having an attorney who can recognize the areas of strength and vulnerability in your case is an enormous benefit. We can anticipate where your argument will falter, where it will bolster and where we should just keep quiet.

One of the most frustrating aspects of divorce can be that thing we have no control over: time. There's a lot of hurry up and wait in this arena, but you can depend on a timeline that's roughly like this: A decree of dissolution of marriage can be entered no earlier than 90 days after you've filed a petition for dissolution of marriage. So right there, even if both parties agree about every little detail, it's 90 days before your marriage is legally dissolved.

If the two parties have disagreements (much more likely), two options lay before them. The first is settlement, and this option can be exercised up until the very day of trial. The second is a court trial, which usually occurs 11-12 months after the initial petition for divorce has been filed. At trial, a judge decides your life, essentially. With settlement, you get to have a voice in the decision about your life.

Most cases (95%-98%) settle sometime between months 5 and 11.

the financial process
Each step in the court process requires funds. How much, exactly, will be dictated by the particulars of your case. But you will have control over the expense. We'll work with you to help you evaluate whether the possible rewards of going to court are worth the risk and investment, or whether other options make more sense.

the emotional process
The process of divorce can be long and is almost always difficult. It takes its toll on the strongest and most determined. So expect good days and bad days. Plan to call in those favors from friends and relatives, gather your support group around you, circle the wagons. Finding healthy ways to relieve the stress and distress is critical. Especially if you have children.

Speaking of kids, don't forget them. Their emotional roller coaster can be very frightening. It's the job of both parents to make them feel safe and loved and understood during this difficult and confusing time.

getting the most from your initial consultation
The initial consultation can be anything from a brief chat to serious business. Your call. It all depends on what you bring to the table and how intent you are on making the most of this time.

We think it's important to identify your primary concerns and fears and address those immediately. If you've behaved badly, tell us. If the opposing party has behaved badly, tell us that, too. If children are suffering, pets are upset and your mutual circle of friends are threatening to write you both off, we'd like to hear about it. The more information you can provide, the more comprehensive and useful the legal advice we can offer. Also, if you can, plan on bringing:
  • Most recent years' tax returns with all schedules and attachments for you and your business(es)
  • Most recent bank statements for all financial accounts, including checking, credit card, investment and retirement accounts
  • Recent pay stubs for you and your spouse (or profit and loss statement if self-employed)
  • Any premarital agreement documents
  • A general idea of the value of your assets and balances on your debts