When one spouse wants a divorce, there are a few simple steps the other partner can take to ensure his or her rights are protected. While the divorce may seem to be clear cut, complications can arise quickly, especially in a contentious divorce or one with high-net-worth individuals. Having legal representation and getting prepared for what’s in store is almost always the best choice when divorce proceedings are inevitable.
After the Initial Shock Wears Off
It might come as a shock to be told by a spouse that he or she wants a divorce. But once the initial shock has worn off, it is time for the other spouse to take steps to protect himself or herself. This includes:
- Keeping calm. Spouses should keep their emotions in check and avoid making threats or doing things that could cause regrets later. Divorcing parents should think of the children first and encourage the other spouse to keep the peace instead of arguing in front of them.
- Finding out whether the spouse has already filed for divorce and hired a divorce lawyer.
- Determining whether counseling may be beneficial. Seeking support from therapists, support groups, and community organizations is important.
- Not agreeing to any child or spousal support, custody arrangement or division of debts and assets without consulting with a divorce lawyer first.
- Researching divorce lawyers in the area. Spouses should interview prospective family law attorneys to ensure they find legal representation that is experienced, skilled, and a good fit overall.
- Considering a collaborative divorce when both spouses are agreeable to the divorce to avoid going to court.
Should Couples Ever Share a Divorce Lawyer
A spouse might ask the other to split the cost of the legal bill by sharing the same attorney that he or she has already hired. This is rarely a good idea. The already retained attorney is obligated to act in the best interests of the individual that has hired him or her. There could be an exception when the couple has mutually agreed on the division of debt, sharing of assets and custody issues. In this case, a single lawyer could bring a joint resolution to a simple divorce. But it is important to remember that the lawyer will not give legal advice to the spouse that did not retain him or her. The lawyer represents the person who hired him or her.