When some people think of divorce, they imagine losing their assets, fighting in court, and a whole host of other worst-case scenarios. But you need to keep in mind that the worst case may not ever happen. There are a series of steps to take long before you end up in a courtroom. And it is entirely possible to complete the divorce process without entering a courtroom.
Change your mindset from fighting to looking for a resolution. As angry as you may be after your divorce, it will not get you what you want—nor is it going to get you near the closure you need and deserve.
Even though you can have a smooth and peaceful divorce without going to court, you should obtain professional and experienced legal counsel. At the start of your divorce process, you will schedule a consultation with an attorney. Choosing to meet with an attorney does not lock you into a working relationship with her.
Lawyers differ in their approach to legal matters. If what you want is an out-of-court divorce, ask about this during your consultation. Your attorney and the decisions she makes will have a significant impact on the proceedings. Do her strategy and demeanor mirror your own?
Be Upfront But Listen
In North Carolina, you must be separated from your spouse for a year before you can file for divorce. You can still create a separation agreement that states legal custody, physical custody, and child support.
The terms of your separation and potential divorce can be spelled out specifically in it. Tell your lawyer what is essential to you. Is it custody, your retirement account, your home? By being upfront with your attorney, she can tell you the legal hurdles you face.
Either your attorney—or your spouse’s attorney—will draft up a separation agreement. Though you can ask for anything within reason, your spouse doesn’t need to sign it. Your spouse’s attorney will send back what they agree with and what they don’t.
The back and forth continues until everyone agrees to the terms. When that happens, you can have the agreement signed and notarized. This can keep you from ever seeing a courtroom.
However, you have to take a strong look at what you are willing to discuss and what you will hold firm on. Because your attorney has been through this, she can advise you on what is worth fighting for.
In the end, she represents you and your interests—and will fight on your behalf. But she will also be realistic and honest about the time and money it will take to fight for the things you want. Ultimately, there are no guarantees that the outcome will be in your favor. Take your attorney’s advice, and then decide what you are willing to negotiate.
Easterling Law, PLLC
At Easterling Law, we want to protect our clients from the stress and fighting that can come with divorce. We understand that you will continue as a parent rather than as a spouse for people who have children. Your long-term happiness is something we don’t neglect. Let’s connect today.