Divorce can be daunting. To help, the family law attorneys at Lerch Early have answered some frequently asked questions (FAQs). Should you need more information, please contact one of our divorce attorneys.
Your specific circumstances will determine when you decide to get a divorce. But if you’re considering divorce, you have to act quickly to consult with an attorney and learn how to protect yourself. We’ll review your situation, the law, and your goals with you. Divorce can take an emotional toll – you can’t un-ring the bell once you go down this path. If you are the primary earner or saver, you may consider getting divorced sooner because division of assets is based on accumulation. If you are the dependent spouse, get your ducks in a row and develop a plan first. Before acting, a plan with an attorney is key.
You should consult with an attorney before a divorce. Know what your rights are before you take action. Once the court process starts, you must engage or you may be waiving your rights. You have to take action to protect yourself and your children.
Get recommendations from people you trust. When meeting with a prospective attorney, really focus on whether you understand their communication style and if they are being clear. Some people want daily updates, others just want results. Make sure your attorney will meet your needs.
Consult with your attorney and develop and create a plan as far in advance as possible, even if it’s something you are just thinking about. Start compiling a list of all your assets and debts, an earnings history with supporting documentation, or notes about parenting or other issues you are concerned about.
It is helpful if you bring information about your and your spouse’s income, assets, and debts. Bring a list of questions. More information means we can paint a more complete picture of your situation and give you more specific advice at your initial consultation.
Maryland and DC are both equitable distribution jurisdictions, meaning the courts “equitably” divide the marital property according to several legal factors. In DC, they can also equitably divide marital debts. Equitable does not always mean 50/50 – it’s what the court decides is fair after application of your family’s circumstances. The courts will also decide alimony, custody, and child support, and can award attorney’s fees.
How willing are people to compromise and work together? Are you reaching a settlement or do you have to go to court? What are you asking for? Our clients are happier if we can guide them through the process in a cost-effective manner. Our goal is to find the most cost-effective way to resolve divorce with a result that is beneficial to our client. Our philosophy is to get our clients through the process emotionally and financially intact.
From the time you file for divorce, if you have an agreement on everything, it can still take a month or two. If you’re litigating the case and can’t come to a resolution, it usually takes 9 to 18 months.
A mediator is someone who acts as a neutral party to help you and your spouse come to a resolution. The mediator does not represent, and cannot give legal advice to, either party. We strongly advise consulting with an attorney, who will represent your interests, advise you on the law, and discuss with you what factors you may want to consider, in advance of going to mediation. Alternatively, in some situations, you may want your attorney to attend mediation with you.
Take the time to move forward in your own way. If you need help on your journey, we’re always here to answer questions and to support you in whatever way you need.