Initial phone calls about divorce often start with “I’ve never done this before.”
If you have never divorced before, you may already know this but in case you don’t, to get a divorce you must involve the courts. A divorce is a judge’s signature on a document called a Judgment. The Judgment addresses parenting time, decision-making and child support, if you have children, property division and spousal support. The courts have strategies to move cases through their system, which involve hearings and deadlines.
Many judge’s order mediation because they are overwhelmed but also because they know that if you decide for yourselves you will more likely abide by the agreements you reach.
We recommend that you involve the courts last. Figure everything out and go to the court with an agreement. This will keep your involvement with the court to the minimum required. Keep your costs of interacting with the court as low as possible. And, you will be able to move forward at your own pace without having to worry about court deadlines.
You can move forward together to implement almost all of a divorce agreement without involving the court. To protect themselves, most of our clients do not want to move forward without a signed document detailing their agreements. By joint agreement, our clients have physically separated (one party moves out), bought and sold property, begun parenting and support agreements. All before involving the court.
Actions that require court involvement: Having the court collect support and accessing qualified or eligible retirement accounts because each require a judge’s signature on a court order. Accessing Individual retirement accounts pursuant to a divorce and marrying someone else require you to be divorced.