If you’re one of many Utah spouses who have decided to file for divorce as part of your ultimate New Year plan, you still have time to research state laws and learn as much as you can about the process before heading to court. It is definitely not a good idea to show up in court while lacking even the most basic knowledge of how the family law system works and what to expect as you work toward a fair and agreeable settlement.
As a parent, your children’s best interests will no doubt be a main focus of all proceedings, especially those pertaining to custody, visitation or child support. It’s critical that you know your rights and how to protect them as you and your kids make plans for a new lifestyle.
Start with the basics
Perhaps, you were always the one in your marriage to handle paying the bills, balancing bank account statements and the general day-to-day running of the household. Then again, maybe that all sounds like a foreign language to you because you basically let your spouse do all that so you could focus your attention on other things.
Either way, it pays to have access to all accounts and resources that will have bearing on the outcome of your divorce. For instance, do you know where all your tax documents are? Do you have access to online banking accounts, investment information and credit card statements?
Understand property division laws
Utah is an equitable property state, as are most states in this country. This means the judge overseeing your case will determine a fair, but not necessarily equal, split of all marital property and liabilities when you divorce. Certain issues, such as whether you signed a prenuptial agreement before marriage, can significantly affect property division proceedings.
The key is to know what you own and what you owe. Know what you need to make ends meet down the line. Also, know where your money is, and if you suspect that something is not right, such as thinking you had a certain amount in a bank account but a withdrawal has been made that you were not aware of, know where to seek support to discuss a possible hidden asset problem.
Know what to expect and set goals
Do you see yourself as a custodial parent after divorce? Will you work outside the home or from home? Can you estimate your expenses to form a clear idea of what your financial needs might be as you and your kids move toward a new future together?
The court has the final say in all divorce-related matters. However, if you and your spouse wish to decide the terms of your own co-parenting agreement, it is often possible to do so. Once the court issues an order, you and your co-parent are legally bound to adhere to the terms.
Resolve one issue at a time
While it’s understandable that you might hope to settle your divorce as swiftly as possible, it’s definitely not something you want to rush. Not only do you want to be certain you’re making the right decision but you’ll also want to be especially prepared for how to talk to your kids about the life changes that may occur in the months ahead.
Both now and in the future, it’s always best to make sure you clearly understand each issue and that you resolve any problem or obstacle that arises in as amicable a way as possible. If you determine that litigation is necessary, it is critical that you know where to seek guidance and support.