divorce lawyer

Divorce is one of the most painful, tumultuous times of anyone’s life. The process of separation, especially after many years of marriage, is likely to be a difficult and expensive process. But, with the right preparation, planning a divorce could be smooth and straightforward.

More importantly, you’ll need a deep knowledge of the process even before you start. There are only two qualifications required:

  • The grounds for divorce must be due to “irreconcilable differences.”
  • Either of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 90 days before filing for divorce

Even though it seems simple enough, planning and filing for a divorce is full of pitfalls if you’re unprepared. We highly recommend consulting a divorce lawyer before you get started to guide you throughout the process.

Planning your Divorce: Types of Divorce

The most important decision you have to make early is what type of divorce you want. You can reach a divorce settlement in two ways: either you and your spouse agree, or a judge decides for you.

There are several D.I.Y. divorce options available:

I. Y. Kitchen Table Divorce

This is a simple divorce agreement between you and your spouse, usually when you have no kids and no money. We strongly discourage this approach if you have wealth to divide, child custody or alimony disputes, or pending issues with debt and taxes.

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Since you likely don’t know what you’re doing, you could expose yourself to legal problems such as debt, taxation, unresolved property issues and wills,

Online Divorce 

This is a type of divorce carried out through the guidance and services of online divorce firms. It is a preferable option because you get legal help and court approval, but they are risky, and you could lose your money without the expected results.

Mediation

Divorce mediation is when a professional neutral party (usually an attorney) guides your negotiation process, offers ideas, and helps both sides make compromises to reach an amicable agreement.

As a neutral party, the mediator can listen to both sides objectively and offer help so that you can reach an agreement more easily.

Collaborative Divorce

This is a more formal, structured process in which you and your spouse take a team approach with the help of professionals such as financial experts, divorce coaches, and child psychologists.

The professional guidance, you will come up with a far more supportive divorce agreement that takes care of the needs of everyone involved, especially the kids.

How to file for a Divorce 

No matter what type of divorce you choose, you must follow the same legal steps. We recommend the following process to ensure the best outcome for you and your spouse.

1. Gather information

It is vital to be organized and proactive in your approach. First, prepare your private finances by opening a checking and saving account in your name where you can save money.

Also, get a credit card in your name alone before starting the divorce proceeding and start saving—divorce can be incredibly expensive, and there’s the risk that your partner can freeze your accounts.

This is also a good time to change wills and beneficiaries of anything listed in your names before you begin the divorce proceedings. Once you start, you may not be able to update this information until the divorce is finalized.

Then, order a free credit report and make a list of all your assets and liabilities that you know of. Be careful to note any property and assets you got before you were married and any inherited rental property you have, even if you received it while married. This is not considered marital property.

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The same applies to debt., where debt you or your partner had before marriage is not considered marital debt.

Remember to list all your household items, including electronics, furniture, personal items, decorations, and even small value items you care about, such as sheets and towels. All these are considered marital property, so if you want it, list it.

Finally, start to collect the information and documents that you need:

  • Tax returns for the past five years
  • Wage stubs or payment slips for the last three months
  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Statements of retirement accounts, such as 401k
  • Investment account statements
  • Life insurance policies
  • Mortgage statements
  • Deeds to all real estate properties
  • Appraisals of real estate and other valuable assets
  • Car registration documents
  • Statements of car loans and vehicle valuation (such as Kelley Blue Book printouts)
  • Statements of Social Security benefits

2. Complete and file the initial paperwork

Fill out the forms you need to begin the process for the type of divorce you want. This is where using an attorney is vital because they will help to guide you on what documents to file, how to fill them correctly, and where to submit them. Otherwise, you will need to do some research.

Each county has specific requirements about what forms and documents you need to file. For example, in Chicago’s Cook County, you need to file:

  • A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage
  • A Domestic Relations Cover Sheet
  • Summons
  • Affidavit of Service
  • Certificate of Dissolution
  • Statement of Financial Disclosure
  • For children, you will also need to file a Joint Parenting Agreement, a Visitation Form, and a Uniform Order of Support

When you’re done filling out the forms and attaching the required documents, you will file them with the courthouse clerk in your county and pay a filing fee, usually between $150 and $300.

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When you’re done filing, you also need to serve your spouse with copies of the divorce papers to make them aware of the petition to dissolve your marriage. You need to prove that you served your spouse, which you can achieve in these five ways:

  • Use the Sheriff’s Service, which is the preferred method because you will receive a proof of service document to file with the court.
  • Voluntary acceptance
  • Use a special server service, which must be authorized by the court.
  • By publishing the petition in a local newspaper, usually done if you can’t find or access your spouse
  • Service by special order of the court, which usually happens when all other methods are deemed impractical

Once served, the respondent has to file a response within 30 days. You can set a court date once the documents have been served and let the respondent know of that date.

These are only the first steps to getting a divorce. There’s much more you need to do, which is why having the support of an experienced divorce or family lawyer is invaluable.

Hire an Experienced Divorce Lawyer to guide You.

As in many other states, filing for divorce here in Miami is a draining experience. The right Miami divorce lawyer can greatly simplify the process, especially when it comes to the paperwork.

Most importantly, a skilled lawyer ensures that your needs are met in the final agreement and protects you from legal exposure. The right divorce lawyer actually saves you money, especially when you have a large amount of wealth to divide.

Get a Vasquez de Lara Law Group divorce lawyer and make filing for dissolution of marriage in Miami much easier and smoother.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce?

An uncontested divorce means that both parties agree on all of the terms of the divorce and they have reduced their agreement to writing, which makes the process fairly straightforward. Otherwise, if there are issues where you can’t agree on, such as child custody or division of assets and debts, the divorce is considered contested and can get complicated.

How much does a divorce cost?

The cost of a divorce depends upon the county in which you can file for divorce. For example, Cook County filing fees are a bit higher than some of the surrounding counties.

Can I stop, refuse, cancel, or reverse a divorce?

Unfortunately, you cannot cancel, refuse, or stop the divorce process if one party wants it. However, if you reconcile before a final decree is issued, the petitioner can file a motion to dismiss the complaint and end the divorce proceedings. Once the final decree is issued, you will have to get married again if you reconcile later.

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