PHASE 1: How to Start a Divorce
This phase can start happening very early in the process…when you know you are unhappy, but paralyzed from moving in any direction; when your spouse announces their desire to end the marriage, and thus, the end of your life as you know it, or when you are eyeballs deep in the process, depleted and no longer recognizing yourself.Divorce is a relatively unknown topic for most, and lack of knowledge can be paralyzing. We always fear what we do not know. The more information and understanding you have, the more easily you will be able to make decisions. This section is about learning, getting stronger, and preparing for divorce.
The ABCs of Legal when Planning for a Divorce
This section will provide you with some of the basics you’ll need to know if you enter into divorce. You will make better decisions, save money and get through this quicker and with less frustration if you become familiar with the process and key points.
We’ll walk you through the basic process and show you the different negotiation options. You will learn what will work best for your situation.
Learn the concepts that guide your rights and limitations for property division, support payments and custody. Use the Divorce Guidelines by State in our Legal Tools to quickly see the guidelines for your state.
UTK highly recommends having a lawyer for initial consultation and final document review, at a minimum. Download the UTK Guide to Finding Your Lawyer for an easy way to organize the process and ensure you get the biggest bang for your buck during your first meeting!
Learn what issues are important to document so you can have the necessary support when you need it.
PHASE 2: The Decision and Making the Break
You may have been in an unhappy marriage for a long time — the fighting, fear, and confusion, feeling alone as everyone around you seems happy in their marriages. In the Contemplating Divorce section of Untangle The Knot, you were exposed to considerations around many of the emotional aspects of making the decision including how to gain additional self-awareness to ensure any decision was being made from a healthy mental place, ways to save your marriage, and how the kids should play into your decision. In Phase 1 – Building Your Foundation you were given more information to prepare across other areas including understanding legal basics and getting your finances in order. The information in this section will provide further guidance in preparing for divorce including financial documents to have on hand, having the conversations with your spouse, telling your kids about the divorce, and ways to maintain your sanity in the process.
Are You Ready?
You’ve got the legal ball rolling, you’ve done some research and hopefully you’ve decided what lawyer you feel most comfortable with as you continue through the divorce process. If there are incidents involving your spouse that you don’t feel comfortable with, you should be documenting these to the full extent so that you have a full record if you need it. You can work through the checklist in this section to make sure you’re on track and ready for the next Phase.
The Are You Ready? Checklist
Make sure you have accomplished the following items before moving on to Phase 3.
- Have you secured a lawyer? For more information – click here (members only)
- Have you had an initial consultation?
- Are you familiar with the basic legal concepts presented?
- Do you know some of the important divorce laws in your state?
- Do you have a point of view on what process would work best for you?
- Have you started documenting incidents that could affect your divorce settlement or parenting agreement?
PHASE 3: Going Through a Divorce
This is a place you likely never thought you would be. You run into an old acquaintance at the dry cleaner and they innocently ask you how is your spouse doing. This is when you find yourself numbly replying, “we are getting divorced”. Four little words that encompass oh so much. It seems as though everything in your life is unstable, everything that was certain is now sitting on quicksand. You are embarking on potentially the most difficult phase of your life.
This is not the time to curl up in a ball on the couch, even though that is likely what you want to do. This is the time to set your goals, choose your behavior, get organized, stay focused and act with intention. This section will guide you through this phase of your life, with those factors in mind.
Navigating the Legal Process
Get Ready (Members Only)
Ask yourself not only what you want to achieve, but also how you want to achieve it. Begin with the end in mind to save time, money and frustration.
Work Effectively With Your Lawyer (Members Only)(
You and your lawyer will have a partnership in which you both have very important roles and are dependent on each other for success. Learn what you should be doing to help your lawyer be successful for you, while spending as little as possible on legal fees!
Start the Legal Process (Members Only)
Determine the approach to divorce that will work best for your situation. You may want to do it yourself or use mediation, collaborative or arbitration. Learn how to get started with any of these approaches, and most importantly, how to avoid a court trial!
Tips for a Successful Negotiation (Members Only)
How are your negotiation skills? We’ll help you with tips for getting to the settlement you want.
The Financial Settlement (Members Only)
What are the biggest financial mistakes you can make in a divorce? Learn how to avoid these while making the best decisions in your financial settlement.
Parenting Agreements (Members Only)
This section will cover the key elements of a Parenting Agreement and how to create it. The Children section will provide more information to help you make the best decisions for your kids.
PHASE 4: Onward and Upward
You are ready to begin a new chapter of your life. You could be feeling any number of things – relief, excitement, fear, happiness, sadness – or all of the above depending on the day. Depending on the emotional work you’ve done so far, you could still be early in the grief cycle or well into accepting your new single life. This is the time to rebuild your life. Take stock and use this as an opportunity to transform yourself into the person you want to be. Live the life that reflects who you are now, not the person from your past.
This section will give you emotional and practical guidance for moving into your single life – as a single person or as a single parent. Also learn about post-divorce legal issues that may pop up and how to handle them.
Post-Divorce Legal Issues
Modifying Support Payments (Members Only)
Learn what circumstances could result in child or spousal support modification, and how to make the change.
When Support Payments Aren’t Made (Members Only)
What do you do when “the check is in the mail?” Learn your rights and steps you can take to get the money you were awarded.
Modifying the Parenting Agreement (Members Only)
You will need to change Parenting Agreements as children grow up and circumstances change.