Questions to ask about divorce

Divorces are among the most painful, confusing situations that people face in the course of their lives. As if the emotional turmoil weren't enough to occupy your mind, there are many issues that demand your immediate attention. In the course of their careers as divorce attorneys, Brette Sember and Lee Borden have addressed many questions about divorce. This article is intended to provide a starting point. Do not use it as a substitute for legal advice.

Can You Stop a Divorce?

According to Borden, the short and brutal answer is no. A divorce can be prolonged, made more hurtful and made more expensive. However, if one of the spouses is absolutely determined to go through with it, there is really no way of stopping it. Sember adds that it may be possible to contest the grounds for divorce in court. However, grounds trials are rare. Judges will find in most trials that there is a grounds for divorce.

What Are Grounds for Divorce?

Grounds for divorce are the reasons for which a divorce is filed. Most states have no-fault provisions, which means that no specific reasons are needed. States which do require grounds, Sember states, "generally include adultery, abuse, desertion, alcoholism or drug addition, incarceration and insanity." These grounds must exist when a divorce is petitioned.

How Do You File for Divorce?

The procedures vary from state to state. According to Sember, you begin by filing divorce papers. What happens after that, depends on how much control you are willing to take. Borden suggests that you gather as much information about divorce proceedings as you can. Listen carefully to your lawyer's advice, he adds, but make your own decisions. Borden also encourages you to talk to your spouse, if he or she is willing to do so.

What Is Divorce Mediation?

In divorce mediation, both parties meet with a neutral mediator to negotiate the terms of the divorce. You can bring your attorney to the sessions. Mediation can begin before you file the divorce papers. Sember and Borden agree that mediation generally makes a divorce less expensive. As long as full disclosure is given, Sember adds, mediation agreements are binding in most states.

Can You Share an Attorney?

You and your spouse cannot share the same attorney, no matter how much you may be in agreement about the terms. On the attorney's part, that's a conflict of interest, and that, Sember states, is "unacceptable and unethical."

How Will the Property Be Divided?

The answer varies from state to state, Borden explains. You should research your state's statutes carefully in this matter. Depending on the state, property acquired prior to the marriage may be included in the settlement. Borden recommends taking a thorough inventory of all assets and liabilities when entering the divorce. Borden and Sember agree that you do not have to involve your lawyers when dividing your property and debts.

How Can You Make the Divorce Easier for the Children?

Divorce can be especially painful for the children. It doesn't matter if they are 13 or 30. Borden emphasises the importance of not using your children as go-betweens or messengers, especially in financial and legal matters. Don't criticise your ex in front of your child. Don't use visitation issues as a means to control your ex.

"Keep your promises," he advises. "Take care of yourself... anything you can think of to keep your own sanity."

Where Can You Get Emotional Support?

Going through a divorce is one of the most painful experiences you will ever have. It is common knowledge that the divorce rate in the U.S. is over 50%. Yet nearly everyone entering a marriage means to stay in it for the rest of his or her life. Both, Borden and Sember agree that it is vital to build a support network. Such a network can consist of "friends, family, clergy, parenting groups, divorce groups and/or a therapist," Sember says. Additionally, there are many online support forums.

When Should You Start Dating Again?

Sember advises not to begin dating until your divorce is final. States that do not have no-fault statutes could consider pre-divorce dating as adultery, she cautions.

"This can affect the outcome of your divorce as far as spousal support and the eventual property settlement goes," she states. "Even if you have been separated."

Even after the divorce is final, taking time to heal and reconnecting with who you are is crucial before entering into a new relationship, even if it takes months or years.

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About the Author

Jeva Anand began writing in 1988. He has worked as an educator, media-relations coordinator and copywriter, and collaborated with regional and national media such as "Indian Country Today." Anand holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of South Dakota. He currently works as a writer and translator.