Planning to Divorce in California

Whether to divorce your spouse is a life-changing decision, and will affect you and your family members for years to come, therefore it’s important that you choose wisely.

When you’ve decided you do not wish to continue with your marriage, and that you want to move forward without your spouse, preparing for the legal aspects of the divorce is imperative

Now that you’ve made your decision, your first step is finding the right people to help you divorce your spouse; usually, that means an attorney.  Finding the right attorney for your situation will not only help you maneuver through the divorce itself, but can help you for many years in the future.

When looking for an attorney ask friends for recommendations for family law attorneys in your area, and/or contact your local bar association for recommendations.

After you’ve created your list of possible attorneys, make appointments to meet with them individually to determine whether they can help you with your particular issues.  Although most divorces have the same issues of spousal support, child support, and property distribution, some divorce cases can be very complicated and need a specialist who understands your particular needs.

Usually, before you meet with a potential attorney, he or she will have you fill out a comprehensive form asking basic questions about your marriage.  Questions regarding children, their ages and any special needs issues; the date of your marriage and the date of your separation; whether there are property issues – both real and personal.

After you’ve filled out the form, and the attorney has had a chance to review it, you will meet with the attorney.  He or she will ask you more questions to “fill out” the basic information on the form.  You should also be prepared to ask questions of the attorney.  Ask questions regarding your case, the firm itself and the costs involved.

Regarding your case, ask what the attorney plans to do to help you get divorced and the estimated time it would take for the divorce to be finalized.  Ask how judges usually decide on issues similar to yours, and what you can do to assist in your own case.  Also, ask the attorney how you can reach him or her in case of an emergency.

Regarding the firm itself, as the attorney who else will be involved in your case (such as paralegals and law clerks) and ask if you can meet with them too.

Lastly, regarding costs, ask the attorney what the hourly rates are for the attorney and anyone else who works on the case.  Ask the attorney for an estimate, assuming the case runs smoothly, how much the total divorce would cost, and what you can do to keep the costs down.

When you feel confident with the answers provided by the potential attorney, then make your decision.  Remember, your life and your family members’ lives will be affected by the divorce for many years to come.

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