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How Does Divorce Work? Divorce Where To Start?

March 17, 2021
a couple sitting with a divorce lawyer

How Does Divorce Work? Divorce Where To Start?

If you or your spouse (or both of you) have decided to end your marriage, you might not know where to start with divorce. It can seem confusing and daunting, especially when you have the emotional stress of ending your marrige to deal with too. So to make things clearer, here is a guide to how divorce works and where to start, written by Divorce Coach and Licensed Therapist, Jill Kaufman.

How Does Divorce Work?

Divorce is complicated and if you’ve never been through it before, it can be completely overwhelming. You might not be sure how divorce works or where to start. And there are so many things to think about.

You might have questions whirring through your head like:

Where am I going to live?

How am I going to support myself and my kids?

How are we going to share custody?

What is the process?

Are my kids going to be ok?

Plus, you have so many emotions like anger at your ex, sadness about the marriage being over, shame because you feel like you’ve failed, and fear that your children will struggle. When you’re emotional, it’s very difficult to think clearly, let alone make important decisions that will impact the rest of your and your children’s lives.

5 Steps In The Divorce Process

There are several key steps in the divorce process in the US. Although every couple’s divorce can be slightly different depending on circumstances, divorce works in 5 steps

  1. Divorce Petition
  2. Serve Your Spouse
  3. Negotiate a Deal
  4. Go To Trial
  5. Receiving Your Divorce Decree

Divorce Where To Start?

But before you go through these 5 steps, there are two things that you should to start your divorce process.

Hire An Attorney

Hiring the right professionals is key to starting your divorce right. A divorce coach, a financial professional, an attorney and a therapist are some of the important professionals to consider hiring. These professionals can help you understand how to start your divorce and avoid making mistakes along the way. The advantage to hiring a divorce coach or therapist when you start your divorce is that they can help you think clearly and are typically significantly less expensive to work with than attorneys. After you’re thinking is clear and you have more information, you can decide what other professionals you’ll need to hire.

Talk To Your Spouse

Many people think that the first step in the divorce process is filing a petition for divorce or a divorce complaint. Although the document formalizes the grounds for divorce and identifies the parties involved in the divorce, it isn’t necessarily the first step that you need to take if you and your spouse can work together and negotiate an agreement. Although this may sound difficult, only 5% of divorces actually go to trial so many couples are able to settle their divorce outside of court. The advantage of avoiding court (beside the fact that it is significantly less expensive) is that you are in control of your divorce. You and your spouse make all the decisions instead of a judge. 

There are many ways to negotiate an agreement without involving the court including coming to agreement completely on your own, hiring a mediator and hiring attorneys to negotiate your agreement. In mediation, you and your spouse hire an impartial trained professional to help you negotiate your disagreements. Mediation is a good option because It’s usually less expensive than working through attorneys. And you can still hire an attorney to advise you through the mediation process if you want to. 

What Do You Need to Negotiate?

The two main components of divorce that must be settled in divorce negotiations are the Parenting Agreement and the Financial Agreement. The Parenting Agreement includes who makes the legal decisions for the children, where they live and the details about when they’re with each parent. The Financial Agreement includes the distribution of marital assets, spousal support and child support. 

Support With Divorce

Hopefully, this information has helped to clarify how divorce works and where to start in your divorce. But there are so many more aspects to divorce that are important to know. You don’t have to do it alone. Below are some of the many resources for divorce:

  • How a divorce coach can help: A divorce coach educates you about the divorce process, focuses on the future and how to achieve your goals, helps you manage other professionals that you may need, helps you learn how to communicate with your spouse and build an effective co-parenting relationship and helps you develop strategies to deal with a difficult or high conflict ex.
  • The DComply app will offer you a fact driven approach to understanding your shared expenses and the role of child support and alimony. You can use it to log your expense sharing and record payments made to each other for the kids’ expenses.
  • The book, I’m Getting A Divorce, Now What? A guide to navigating your divorce with clarity so that you come out stronger helps you process the emotions of divorce, develop your self-confidence, understand your goals and priorities and create a plan for your future life for you and your children. To get the book:

*This is a summary of the divorce process. It does not constitute legal or financial advice. Legal advice can only be obtained as a result of a personal consultation with an attorney. The information provided in this web page is believed to be accurate at the time but is subject to change and does not purport to be a statement of all relevant issues.

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Jill Kaufman

More About Jill Kaufman

Jill is a Divorce Coach, Licensed Therapist, Author & Co-parenting Expert. She helps people navigate the overwhelming process of divorce through individual, couples, and group coaching. Her extensive experience enables her to find creative solutions to the complex financial and parenting issues in divorce.