When you make the decision to divorce, it can feel as though you are embarking upon a long and potentially treacherous journey, with no map, no guide, and no way to ensure that you pursue the right path toward a desirable resolution. Fortunately, divorce is by no means a path that you must walk alone. In fact, the burdens of this process, both emotional and financial, can be significantly diminished if you take a few invaluable measures from the outset. Below is an accessible list of your first, and perhaps most important, steps toward successfully resolving your divorce and moving on to your life’s next chapter.
First, enlist a knowledgeable divorce attorney who can help you to navigate through the legal process. Your divorce lawyer should be your number one advocate, listening to your unique needs and priorities, answering all of your questions, addressing your concerns, and working diligently to craft a customized resolution that best positions you for the future. When selecting a divorce attorney, there are a number of significant considerations which may help you to ensure that he or she is the most qualified for the job:
- Specialized in Divorce and Family Law: just as you might seek a doctor who specializes in a specific area of practice to ensure that you receive the best possible care, attorneys who specialize only in divorce and family law are more likely to have accumulated the knowledge and experience necessary to effectively advocate on your behalf.
- Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorney: only 2 percent of the lawyers in New Jersey have earned this designation, which requires lawyers who apply to meet the most rigorous criteria with regard to experience, education, knowledge and skills in matrimonial law practice.
- Diversity of Divorce Experience: finding an attorney or group of attorneys who have experience with many different forms of dispute resolution, including litigation, mediation, arbitration, and collaborative divorce, will ensure that you have the information and ability to pursue all viable options during the divorce process.
- Asks Questions: when seeking a divorce attorney, you may have many questions. However, an attorney who will best serve your needs will also have many questions for you. Learning about your situation, your concerns, and your goals is essential to best serving your needs. If a lawyer fails to ask you enough questions, how can he or she truly represent your interests?
The next essential step to preparing for your divorce is gathering the necessary documentation. The documents that you will need may vary based on your specific circumstances; however, there are some that are necessary in the vast majority of cases. When starting your document file, think of it this way: what paperwork will provide your divorce attorney with the most comprehensive vision of your life? These documents may include:
- Personal Documents: such as social security cards, your driver’s license, and/or birth certificates for your children
- Financial Documents: this may include recent pay stubs for you and your spouse, state and federal tax returns, bank account statements, credit card statements, loan documents, and many others
- Property Documents: such as mortgages, rental agreements, vacation homes, investment and commercial properties
- Insurance Documents: including medical, life, auto, homeowner’s, renter’s and other forms of insurance for you and your family
- Other Pertinent Documents: may include police reports, restraining orders, prenuptial agreements, and/or correspondence from your spouse’s attorney
The last essential step is to schedule a consultation. Before speaking with a divorce lawyer, it may help to make a list of the questions that you want answered. These questions can range from broad to specific and may touch upon issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, division of assets, or what it means if your spouse is already living with someone else. A knowledgeable attorney should provide you with an outline of all of your available options, the benefits of pursuing one course of action vs. another, and of primary importance, should ask you about your goals and non-negotiable’s. At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys always provide consultations free of charge, as well as helpful information and resources through our website. To speak with one of our highly experienced divorce attorneys today, simply contact our offices in Bergen County, New Jersey at 201-397-1750.