If you are thinking about a divorce, your mind is probably clouded by all sorts of questions and concerns. That is understandable, but here are three pre-divorce questions that are probably the most important for you to answer before you move forward.
Where am I going to live?
Many people think that they simply sign some papers and then they are divorced. Unfortunately, it is not that easy in most states. Many states have a waiting period of some sort before a divorce can be granted. These waiting periods can take many different forms.
Some states have an explicit requirement that spouses wait anywhere from several weeks to many months between filing for divorce and having it granted. Other states require physical separation, which generally requires the spouses to live in different households, for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before the divorce can be granted. Plus, these required delays only apply when everything goes perfectly. A contested divorce can take years.
As a result of these delays, one of the biggest challenges for people going through a divorce is figuring out where they are going to live.
This is one of the most basic but critical pre-divorce questions you need to consider. During the divorce proceedings, the spouses are somewhat in limbo. They are not supposed to be wasting their shared assets because those assets still have to be divided by the court.
This is especially challenging because, according to survey data, money problems are the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity. So that means most divorcing couples are already struggling financially to keep one household together.
As a result, it does not always work for one spouse to move out and go rent a new apartment. In many cases, one or both of the divorcing spouses have to go live with family or make some other drastic decision.
How will we divide our assets?
Most spouses have some idea of how their divorce will go before they make any moves. For example, if a couple has a lot of money they can often anticipate fighting over it. In other cases, a couple may each have their own career and be willing to part ways without fighting much over their joint assets.
Unfortunately, in many situations, the couple has almost nothing to fight about. If a spouse is expecting a contested divorce, he or she needs to plan for spending many months in limbo and finding the money to work through that.
What will our children do?
Many divorcing couples have an instinct for what will ultimately happen to their children. This is the most important pre-divorce question to consider for couples who have kids. Shared custody has become the norm in most situations.
Older children may have some say in their situation. A teenager might be closer to one parent, for example, or may resist moving because he or she does not want to change schools. Courts focus on the best interest of the child, so even if a couple has an agreement the court may want to review it to make sure it works for the child.
Any dispute will often involve a caseworker or some other sort of professional getting involved, and that can greatly complicate the divorce.