Learn Your Divorce ABC’s
Here are some words of advice from Marlene Browne the author of “The Divorce Process: Empowerment Through Knowledge”. Divorce is a civil lawsuit, much like any other kind of lawsuit, and, in order to participate, you have to know the rules of the game: the rules of civil legal procedure. Even if you are represented by counsel, you should know- and understand- what your attorney is doing (and how he/she is doing it) in relation to your case, your life, your future.
You’ve made the decision to divorce, now what do you do? There are many resources available to you, no matter where you live- from the internet to you local bookstore to the family court system to certified divorce planners. Now is not the time to have one meeting with your lawyer and let them make all the decisions- take responsibility and educate yourself on the process. Here are some ways to help you create your divorce strategy:
Take a Class
As the number of divorces has grown, so has the number of courses teaching people how to divorce better. The Association for Family and Conciliation Courts at last count found more than 500 court-affiliated programs for divorcing parents in nearly all the states. Several states like Connecticut, Utah and Florida require people who plan to divorce to attend classes.
Since January 1999, Florida residents dissolving marriages take a four-hour Positive Divorce Resolution course with spouses attending separate sessions. The course centers on conflict resolution and negotiation skills to diffuse negative affects of divorce on children and to help everyone in the family handle loss and grief from divorce.
The Association for Family and Conciliation Courts has a number of publications, including tips for successful marriage, how to prepare for custody evaluations, suggestions for step-parents and guidelines for joint custody.
Research the Net
If you have already done a keyword search under “divorce” you will notice the thousands of divorce support sites that give a wide range of information- from legal to financial to emotional. There are many sites that focus on a particular area of divorce such as fathers and child custody, divorce support groups- there’s even a site for help in determining custody for the marital pet. Once you’ve gained an overview of the divorce process, you can then search under specific phrases, ie: “stock options in divorce”.
The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has designed a free “Divorce Manual: A Client Handbook” to help get you started.
Read a Book
If you do not have easy access to the Internet, there are hundreds of books on the divorce process that will help you gain your footing. Check out the Books section of our site for our favorites.
The Equality in Marriage Institute partnered with The NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc. to produce Divorce Planning: A Guide for Women. This guide gives women, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their divorce, the knowledge to help ensure that their children, health, finances and safety are secure.
The guide is available to those who support The Institute, click here to support our cause.
Hire a Professional
If you think you need some extra help with your divorce, there are certified divorce planners who are trained in the financial aspects of the divorce process. A Certified Divorce Planner (CDP) will help you plan your finances before, during and after your divorce. While your attorney is fully knowledgeable in laws of your state, they will not know all of the financial ramifications of your divorce. CDP’s charge between $75 and $200 per hour. To learn more about Certified Divorce Planners, visit the Institute for Certified Divorce Planners.