The Divorce Process

Most states are a “no-fault” divorce state whereas the state calls the divorce a “dissolution of marriage” and the person filing simply states that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” The courts may consider fault-based arguments for purposes of dividing property or awarding spousal support, but it’s not likely.  Also keep in mind that the Courts will typically require residency for 90 days in your respective state.

Filing.  Two options here:

1)   Hire an attorney to do it for you.

2)   Self file.  This is a relatively easy process.  Merely print out the forms found on your county court system website, pay the respective fee (typically in the $200 range) and submit the paperwork.  It’s much easier if you and your spouse submit the paperwork together so that the clerk can notarize your signatures at the same time.  Otherwise you’ll need to have your spouse served with the paperwork.  Ensure you have key pieces of info like SSNs, dates of birth, mailing addresses, etc. when you file. 

Initial Status Conference

Within about a month of filing for divorce, you and your spouses and your lawyers (if you have them) meet with a judge or Court representative for an "Initial Status Conference." The Initial Status Conference is an informal meeting held outside the courtroom to give the two sides an opportunity to identify the major issues in the case and help the court understand if this will be a contested case or a relatively quick paperwork exercise.  Here, the court also sets important dates and hears requests from both sides for temporary orders for child and spousal support while the case is pending.  Don’t worry about having all your forms completed prior to the initial status conference as the Court will specify exactly what’s needed and when.  Also, I’d suggest that there’s limited value in paying for attorney representation at the initial status conference.

Financial Disclosure

This is what it sounds like, the full disclosure of both (yours and your spouses) of your bank accounts, retirement information, monthly expenses, debts and all assets. Not fun but a necessary process.  You can download worksheets here: http://www.familylawsoftware.com/ (same software that attorney’s use).

Couple notes:

-       don’t fudge the numbers as it can come back to haunt you.

-       Keep cash on hand to help with emergencies

-       Build a process around updating your financial statements as you’ll likely need to do this multiple times

Temporary Orders

Because divorce proceedings can go on for many months or even years, it’s typically necessary to set up temporary financial support for a spouse the children. In most cases, the temporary orders will stay in effect until the case is settled or goes to trial.

Permanent Orders

If you and your spouse can’t agree, your case will go on to a trial or permanent orders hearing.  As you can imagine divorce trials can be lengthy, nightmarish and ridiculously expensive, so it’s usually in your best interest to work out your differences via mediation or agreement. 

Stress Going Through The Divorce Process

Stress Going Through The Divorce Process

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The Ex, Lawyers, Guardian Ad Litem, Parenting Coach, Accountants...Your kids, Your house, Your Finances...

The idea of looking after yourself and reducing stress is not new. But for single parents it can be hugely difficult.  You need to realise you can’t afford not to look after your health – for your children’s sake at the very least.

 Constant low-level stress affects the immune system and can be the underlying cause of a staggering list of health problems: headaches, fatigue, pelvic pain, frequent colds, hair and skin problems, and stomach upsets to name just a few.  In my case high blood pressure and mouth ulcers.  Stress is nearly always the reason for headaches and feeling tired.

The problem with single parents is they put themselves way down on their own priority lists and are often not consciously aware of how much stress they’re under.

The answer lies in the basics. Strategies include: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and (here’s a concept)…relax.

Diet

  • Work out some quick meals which are really healthy – things you can throw together at the last minute instead of toasted sandwiches. My standby is frozen chicken and frozen peas or broccoli. It’s fast and healthy and my son loves it.
  • When you do cook, make large quantities and freeze it. Think about the week’s meals before grocery shopping. Sounds very old-fashioned but it’s cheaper and less stressful than constantly wondering what to have for dinner.
    • This site helped me lose weight and eat great: http://theclothesmakethegirl.com/recipes-index/
  • If you can afford it, buy a multi-vitamin/mineral supplement. Even the best diets can be mineral-deficient due to vegetables being grown in depleted soil.
  • Take extra vitamin C and B-complex to help the body cope with stress. Both are available on prescription.

Exercise

For two years, I told myself joining the gym was out of the question – too expensive and no creche. But no matter how much I promised myself I’d go walking or jogging, I never did.

So I saved up, waited for a special promotion, and organised people to look after the two-year-old. Between my mother, my neighbours and a home-based caregiver, it works.

Complicated? You bet. Impossible? No. And the benefits are as much mental as they are physical.

Sleep

Waking in the early hours of the morning is a classic sign of stress. One of the reasons for it is too much adrenaline in the body; but the good news is, you can ‘manage’ your own adrenaline levels.

Dr Archibald Hart, an expert on adrenaline and stress, says the key is to choose to do things in a more relaxed way. For example, if you’re folding a huge pile of washing, don’t do it in a tense, irritated way. If tackling some paperwork is going to make you resentful and uptight, do it another time.

Take ‘mini-holidays’. Every day do something you find enjoyable. It might be chatting to a friend or listening to music for 15 minutes once the kids are in bed. Reducing day-time stress levels will help you sleep better – which is crucial for your physical and mental health.

And go to bed earlier, despite the overwhelming to-do list. Sleep is cheap medicine.

Lastly, try to live in the moment and not worry about tomorrow (anyone who knows me is hooting with laughter at this point as I’m a classic worry-wort).

And don’t fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself. As my married friends are always telling me, having a wife can be stressful too!