Many people assume that a divorce must be handled in a courtroom, but that’s actually not true. Many divorces can be settled outside of court, saving both parties a great deal of time, money, and stress. If you’re hoping to settle your divorce outside of court, and believe your ex will be willing to work with you on this, here are the steps you’ll need to follow.
Step 1: Contact a Divorce Attorney
Settling outside of court does not mean that you should settle without a divorce attorney. It’s a good idea to seek legal advice early on in the divorce process for many different reasons. Having an attorney can help you to navigate the legal processes and paperwork required even when you settle outside of court. An attorney also ensures that your rights are protected throughout the negotiations process.
Hiring a lawyer does not mean that your divorce has to become more antagonistic. Your divorce can still proceed civilly, and will likely proceed much more quickly, with a lawyer present.
Step 2: Start a Discussion
After speaking to an attorney, it’s time to sit down and speak to your spouse. Find a neutral place that you can meet to go over the issues you need to discuss, including asset division, child custody, and other important factors. You may discover that some issues are more important to you than they are to your spouse, and vice versa.
This can be an informal discussion at first, where the two of you meet alone to simply start a dialogue about the divorce and how it can proceed without taking the matter to court. However, be sure that you don’t enter into any agreements without your attorney.
Step 3: Collect Financial Information
In a court divorce, there’s a period known as the discovery phase, where both parties can collect information regarding assets and finances from the other. Outside of court, it’s up to you both to openly and honestly gather all documents pertaining to your assets.
A divorce attorney can assist you in finding the necessary documents and reviewing them, as well as dealing with situations where you believe your spouse might be hiding assets. (Of course, if you have reason to suspect your spouse of hiding assets, it may be best to take your divorce to court.)
Step 4: Create a Parenting Plan
If you and your spouse have children together, their care and custody are likely a top concern for you both. To settle your divorce outside of court, you will need to work together to answer important questions about your children’s care, such child support amounts, co-parenting strategies, and custody schedules.
For this portion of the plan, it may be a good idea to involve a child advocate, who can assist you with finding a plan that keeps your children’s best interests at heart. Your attorney can also help you with calculating child support amounts and filling out all of the necessary paperwork.
Step 5: Work with a Mediator If Needed
As we already mentioned, a divorce doesn’t have to become confrontational simply because attorneys are involved. However, if you feel that the tension in your divorce is escalating, you may consider working with a mediator to help you through the negotiations. Our attorneys are happy to work alongside a neutral third-party mediator to help you settle your divorce outside of a courtroom.
Step 6: Submit Your Divorce Agreement
After you’ve created a divorce agreement that you’re both satisfied with, you and your spouse will sign the document with your attorneys present, then present it to the judge. A divorce agreement is considered a legal contract, so once you sign it, you are bound by it.
After the agreement has been submitted, the judge will review it to ensure it meets all applicable state laws and has been filed correctly. Again, this is an area where an attorney can help; we’ll make sure that the agreement is drafted properly so it’s not rejected for avoidable errors. With the judge’s approval, the agreement will be entered as a final court order.
We’ll Advocate for You Both In and Out of Court
Whether you want to settle your divorce outside of court or need to bring the matter into a courtroom, the attorneys at The Harr Law Firm are here to advocate for you. We’ll ensure that your rights and your best interests are protected throughout the divorce process. If you’re considering a divorce, contact us today to schedule a consultation.