If you and your spouse have children and assets, child custody and the division of marital assets are going to be the biggest aspects of the process you will go through during divorce. On the other hand, if you have no children or very little in the way of assets, the divorce process should be simple and relatively quick. Regardless, it is vital that you not only know what to expect, but have a clear understanding of how to protect your legal rights. Don't walk into a dark tunnel without a flashlight.
Below are a few tips that will help you prepare for and get through the divorce process:
• Know the divorce laws. What are you entitled to in a divorce? What is the judge likely to do concerning child custody? How much will you pay or be owed in child support? Is it ok to date during the divorce? It's critical that you hire a competent attorney that can guide you through the process. A wrong move could cost you greatly. It's not worth trying to save a few dollars on the front end if you get screwed on the back end.
• If you have children, become familiar with the different types of child custody. For you parents out there who want to share in the parenting of your child, make sure your attorney understands that you want to petition the court for joint custody so that your attorney can explain to you what is involved.
• Before separating, make copies of all pertinent financial documents. If you don't have them already, you should contact your financial institution and request a copy of all bank account statements, credit card statements, and all retirement and investment account statements. This will help to speed the process along. Also, have a copy of any mortgage documents and proof of any other properties you and your spouse hold jointly. It is important that you keep a copy of everything you give your attorney in a file of your own.
• Refrain from any behavior that will reflect badly on you if you and your spouse end up actually going to court. Dating should be left for after you have a final decree of divorce. Many people separate from their spouse and jump into a rebound relationship. Although a lot of states have no-fault divorce laws and any dating you do can’t be held against you, ARKANSAS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE STATES. Even if Arkansas was a no-fault divorce state, it is still in your best interest to wait before seeking out new relationships. The divorce process is riddled with emotional stress and legal stress. The last thing you need distracting you from the business at hand is a new relationship.
• Learn how to deal with any conflict you have with your spouse. Anger and hostility have no place in the divorce process. Coping with the divorce process is difficult, but learning to do so will make the process less stressful on all concerned, especially for any children involved.
• Last, but most importantly, take care of your children. If you have children, put their needs first. Every parent has an obligation to his or her children to make the divorce process one that keeps the divorce from causing harm. Do not talk negatively about the other parent to the children or where they can hear. Don’t ever allow yourself to believe that children are resilient and will bounce back. Trying to make your children turn on the other parent can have long lasting negative effects. You may think that your spouse is a deadbeat, but your child still needs a hero. Bite your tongue.
The trick to keeping your sanity during divorce is preparation. Preparing yourself both legally and emotionally for what is to come. Do that and you and your children will come through the process with fewer battle scars.