According to the Virginia Department of Health, Division of Health Statistics, 29,465 couples filed for divorce in 2017. Chances are good that, if they could go back in time, many of them would have done a better job of preparing for the process. When you think about how much time you spent planning your wedding, you can see how the proceedings to end your marriage deserve some attention as well.
Your first step when preparing for divorce is to consult with a knowledgeable Virginia divorce lawyer who will represent your interests. Some additional recommendations can increase the likelihood of a smooth process.
Get a Grasp on Your Finances: Your financial situation is going to change drastically in divorce, as your household income will likely decline, while your expenses will increase. Even if you are awarded alimony under Virginia law, it’s important to get a full, accurate picture of your finances how and avoid surprises later.
Gather Documents: Part of the divorce process will involve division of the property you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. Therefore, you need to collect paperwork showing your assets, income, and debts. The most critical documents will be:
- Ownership and mortgage information regarding real estate;
- Titles to vehicles, along with any loan documentation;
- Income tax returns;
- Statements for checking and savings accounts;
- Retirement account statements;
- Investment Statements; and,
- Pay statements or leave earnings statements.
Understand Your Options: Many people think of divorce as a drawn-out legal battle with each party standing on opposite sides of the courtroom. In truth, you do have options to resolve key divorce issues without litigation. For instance, with help from their respective attorneys, many couples can come to an agreement on property division, alimony, custody, child support and other issues. Mediation may also be an option, where you meet with a neutral professional who is specially trained to help couples reach compromise.
If you and your spouse can reach an agreement a divorce court judge will almost certainly accept that agreement and enter an appropriate divorce order without the need for a contested trial.
Keep Expectations in Check Regarding Minor Children: Parents going through divorce often assume that the mother or parent with the higher income will always get custody of children. However, in Virginia, like most US states, the law generally prefers children to have a relationship with both parents. Therefore, decisions on child custody and visitation are made in accordance with the best interests of the child. A judge will apply a list of factors required by statute when determining these issues.
Still, as with other divorce-related issues, it is possible for parents to reach an agreement on custody and visitation. As long as it meets the child’s best interests, a court will probably approve the agreement and enter the order.
Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced Virginia Divorce Lawyer
For more information on how to prepare for divorce, please contact Duff & Kronfeld, P.C. to set up a consultation. Our divorce attorneys can provide additional recommendations after reviewing the details of your case. We represent clients in Fairfax and throughout Northern Virginia, and we’re happy to assist.