What to Consider When Facing Divorce or Separation

When considering divorce or separation, many clients become overwhelmed by the prospect of radical changes to their family and financial future. There are many issues that immediately come to mind when the time comes to dissolve your marriage. Some are very obvious, such as child custody, child support, spousal support and property division, however, other issues aren’t quite so blatant. The first step to take is to prepare for family, emotional and financial challenges and find the right family law firm to help protect yourself and your family.

The changing family dynamic is perhaps the hardest to appropriately anticipate. If children are involved, whether young or “of age”, the decision to divorce or separate can have varied effects. Usually, younger children don’t understand why or what it means. Some children regress in some areas (bedwetting, etc.), and some do poorly in school immediately following the announcement. Children require constant reassurance that both parents love them, but their parents can no longer live together. It is usually a good idea to get on the same page with the other parent and find a good therapist or counselor for children going through this major life change. Being aligned with the other parent in these matters will do much more to keep the children as centered and balanced as possible.

Emotionally, you will likely go through extreme highs and lows. You will probably question whether this is right for you and your family and, although well-intentioned, unsolicited advice from friends and family on issues such as legal representation, 
financial preparation and even what support and custody orders you should try to achieve, can make a stressful process infinitely more confusing. The best course of action is to surround yourself with trusted friends and family for emotional support and professionals, such as attorneys or therapists/counselors, to help guide you through the road ahead.

Financially, life will change. For many families, it is virtually impossible to sustain two equal households similar to the marital household. Often, one spouse, or both, will have to move from the family residence. Typically, this is achieved by selling the family residence and splitting any proceeds or one party buying out the other’s interest. Additionally, accounts and property acquired during the marriage must be properly divided. Obtaining statements or other relevant documentation before or early in the process can save time, money and frustration. For high net worth individuals, the division of assets can include multiple assets of varied classes, tax bases and issues surrounding valuation and ownership or transferability, which often calls for the involvement of experts, including forensic accountants.

To navigate the myriad questions and concerns brought by divorce or separation, it is essential to find a family law attorney or firm who understands your concerns and has the experience to protect you and your family. In order to determine if a firm or attorney will provide the representation you seek, you should be most concerned with a few important issues (while there are many other considerations, these are often the most important):

  • Experience. How long has he/she been doing this?
  • Ability to work with you.
  • Reputation in the community (with colleagues and judicial officers).
  • Attitude. The level of aggression and mindset toward settlement 
 vs. litigation, etc.

Due to the complexity of family law matters, having an experienced attorney by your side who knows their way around this oftentimes convoluted terrain can be of immeasurable value. Further, with highly emotional issues involved, you also need an attorney who can guide you through this process with perhaps a greater degree of compassion and empathy than, say, a commercial or civil litigator might have.

Another reason you should seek a skilled professional is that, unsurprisingly, family law matters can often become very heated and acrimonious. Thus, an attorney who can manage complex negotiations with a degree of assertiveness or amicability that represents your position while maintaining your best interest is of paramount importance. Finally, having an attorney with a respected reputation in the legal community and among professional colleagues can lend credibility to your position(s) and aid in facilitating negotiation.

Thus, the aforementioned list, although not exhaustive, can provide a benchmark of expectation for professional requirements when searching for a family law attorney or firm to assist you in managing the emotional, familial and financial challenges presented by divorce or separation.

The Reape-Rickett Law Firm has three locations with experienced attorneys to serve you in Calabasas, Santa Clarita and Westlake Village. Learn more at DivorceDigest.com or contact us directly at 818.888.1144.