Step by Step Guide To Raleigh Divorce
2) Avoid Leaving the Marital Home Absent Safety Concerns and Ensure Access to Money.
In most cases leaving the marital home without legal advice will negatively affect your divorce case. Depending on the circumstances, you may be subjecting yourself to claims of “abandonment” or worse. Wait until you have been advised by a Raleigh Divorce Attorney to make this decision and move if at all possible. You are also well advised to ensure access to funds you will need later in the event your spouse is in control of the finances. Make sure you:
Deposit funds into a separate account
Ensure access to a separate credit card
Talk to relatives/friends about borrowing if it comes to it
- Brainstorm any other methods to ensure access to capital if you are cut off from funds so that you can both live and get legal help in the short term.
3) Obtain Basic Information and Records.
The first step to take when considering a separation or divorce in Raleigh is to gather your financial information. This includes:
recent tax returns and records
evidence of income
...and basically any other financial information you can legally get your hands on. Focus on joint accounts or accounts in the sole name of your spouse as they will be harder to get later when you have lost access. If unsure whether or not to “take” actual statements, make copies/scan and return them.
What you want is a broad picture of your financial situation and have basic records to ensure accuracy.
As far as how much documentation to obtain or for how long a time period, we suggest acquiring the previous two years if available, however in some cases 6 to 12 months will suffice. If it's there, it will not hurt to have it. If you believe any financial funny business has taken place, such as transferring or hiding assets in the past, be sure to obtain as much financial documentation as you can from immediately before and after the event.
4) Prepare a List of Questions and Goals You Need Information and Advice On.
Include all, regardless of how silly or unimportant you think they might be. While research on the internet is fine, you must be wary of relying on such information to make any decisions as the information is often incorrect, unreliable, inapplicable to your situation, or just plain ludicrous. Avoid relying on the advice of others as well until you have met with your a Raleigh divorce attorney.
5) Set a Consultation with an Experienced Raleigh Family Law Attorney.
Research local Raleigh divorce attorneys and seek one with experience. Make certain to inquire about the cost of the consultation prior to setting an appointment. You will bring your financial records to your consultation, along with the list of questions you prepared. Do not expect a “free consultation” as they are not standard with Raleigh Divorce Lawyers or North Carolina Divorce Attorneys. You may find one but consider how long the consult lasts, the scope of the consult, and what one could typically expect for free in terms of specific legal advice and guidance.
6) Avoid Negotiation with Your Spouse Before Meeting with Your Raleigh Attorney.
Some people can negotiate a settlement that is reasonable with their Spouse prior to separation and before they meet with a Divorce Lawyer. For most people, however, negotiating with their spouse prior to knowing:
the basic divorce laws
what they are entitled to
what methods of dealing with property are feasible and/or advantageous
This leads to increased levels of hostility, loss of leverage and bargaining power, and sometimes terribly unfair or otherwise ill-advised agreements.
If, after being advised by an experienced divorce attorney about basic divorce law and what you may be entitled to you still wish to proceed in direct negotiations you are free to do so, and at least you will be informed.
7) Document Important Events and Custody Issues in a Journal.
Regardless of how memorable important events that lead to the breakup of a marriage are, your memory of the events will degrade over time, especially with regard to the details. Dates, times, exact words, and the order of events will become harder and harder to recall with certainty. Failing to recall events accurately later can harm your credibility. A simple and effective way to avoid this problem is to keep all the details in a well-hidden journal. If you suspect your spouse is being unfaithful, record the events (with dates, times and as many details as possible) that has to lead you to this conclusion. Document custody issues, staying out late, verbal abuse, etc.
8) Decide on a Raleigh Attorney and Hire Them.
After your consultation, decide whether or not you wish to hire this Raleigh attorney. It is almost never a good idea to proceed with separation and divorce unrepresented. If you are not comfortable with a lawyer after you meet with them, by all means meet with another. The expense incurred in the consultation will prove a small price to pay to avoid big mistakes later on.
9) In Deciding on an Attorney in Raleigh, Have a Frank Discussion of Legal Fees.
The vast majority of experienced divorce attorneys charge an initial fee of some sort, and then will charge by the hour as the case progresses, often requiring additional payments to be made at a later time. It is crucial when you are meeting with your attorney to pin your attorney down on what the likely cost of your case will be if contested. NEVER count on a case settling. Most divorce lawyers will be unable to give you an exact figure of how much your case will cost, however, they should be able to provide you with a range. If you feel that it will not be possible to pay for the amount in the middle range over time (at least), you may wish to consider finding another attorney as you cannot afford this one.Do not hire a Raleigh attorney that you know you probably cannot afford to finish your case. Your attorney will only wind up withdrawing before the case is over and your funds may be too depleted to hire another one when you may have been able to hire an experienced divorce attorney that you can afford. Do not always equate fees with effectiveness. Besides, what good is the best lawyer in the world if they quit halfway through your case? Do your homework and make the best decision you can.
10) Set a Plan with Your Raleigh Lawyer.
After you have met with your attorney, hired your attorney, provided your attorney with sufficient documentation, and discussing your goals with your attorney, your Raleigh attorney should be able to provide you guidance on which goals are attainable, practical and best to pursue. Understand that your attorney cannot always provide exact and specific advice early in a case because we have not heard from the opposing attorney and do not have all the financial information (for example, spouses current or post-separation expenses), however you should be able to come up with an initial set of goals pending full disclosure such as possession of a home. The most important planning to be done initially is to determine whether or not you will begin with negotiation or litigation. In the vast majority of cases, negotiation is the advisable (and cost-effective) starting point, however, in some cases, it much more beneficial and cost-effective to begin with litigation. For example, if you KNOW your spouse is unwilling to agree to anything, or will not agree to certain goals that are non-negotiable for you at present, then it may benefit you to file lawsuits and avoid wasting resources in negotiation.
Another example of a case requiring litigation first approaches involve a spouse who is transferring, hiding or liquidating marital assets, putting your children in danger, or other emergency based issues.
11) Follow the Plan and Advice of Your Attorney.
You pay a Raleigh attorney to provide advice, guidance, and perform the legal work. Take advantage of it. If your attorney is experienced, (and ask if you are unsure), then you can expect they are providing you effective and time tested advice. They should know what is likely to happen to in Court, and good practical ways of resolving conflict and difficult divorce issues. The odds suggest that your case will settle, however, there is no guarantee and YOU CANNOT COUNT ON AN EASY SETTLEMENT.
Contact Our Raleigh Divorce Law Firm Get Professional Legal Assistance
As you can see, going through a divorce can be challenging and many things arise that you may be unprepared for.
Our Raleigh divorce attorneys are ready to help you through this troubling time. Give us a call at (919) 301-8843 or complete the online form below to speak with an experienced lawyer who can help with your case.