“I just decided to get divorced…now what?”: The top 10 questions family and divorce lawyers are asked

The road to divorce is different for everyone. However you arrived at this juncture, it’s normal to feel unsettled. Chances are these feelings of uncertainty are what brought you here.

Rebecca Torgerson, experienced Family Law Attorney with Brewe Layman, understands what you’re going through. In this Q&A, she addresses the top 10 concerns that clients have during the early stages of divorce:

Preparing for divorce:

What’s the first thing I should do once the decision has been made to get divorced?

RT: Start thinking about what you want for yourself (and your family) six months to one year down the road. Where do you want to live? What will your new budget look like? How will bills be paid? What kind of parenting schedule do you want? This activity will help give you a realistic view of what your future may look like. I recommend keeping this a private and independent activity. Write down these thoughts and bring them to your initial consultation.

What kind of documents will I be required to produce?

RT: There’s a full list of everything we’ll need to see here. Don’t worry if those documents aren’t available for the first meeting, we can proceed without them.

Timing:

How long can a divorce take?

RT: A typical divorce, without children, shared businesses or properties, takes approximately 6-8 months. If you have children and/or significant shared assets, the process could take longer.

Is there anything that can be done to help speed up the process?

RT: Yes! Firstly, it’s important to address that it’s never your attorney’s objective to drag out your case. Like you, we want to get it done as efficiently as possible. The following can save more time and cost than you might realize:

  • Be honest and straightforward with your attorney from day one.
  • Respond to your attorney in a timely manner.
  • Refrain from negotiating ‘on the side’ with your soon-to-be-ex. Though your intentions may be good, it can be harmful to your case and cause unnecessary confusion and delay.

Cost:

What is the cost of divorce?

RT: This is a difficult question to answer because every case is different. Several variables factor into the cost of a divorce:  

  • If either party owns a business, valuations may be required to determine its worth. Reports and statements will need to be filed and additional number crunching will be necessary.
  • “High conflict cases” in which the couple are exceptionally hostile towards one another, amount to more visits to court, monitoring and communication with opposing counsel, and negotiations. 
  • If there is a custody dispute or any issues surrounding substance abuse or domestic violence, Guardian Ad Litems or Parenting Evaluators may be needed.

Divorce can be complicated and the more work that is required of your attorney, the higher the costs. One can be certain that when working with Brewe Layman, divorce settlements are done properly. Our meticulous approach ensures you don’t get stuck with any surprise payments after the case has been closed. The best way for us to provide you with a cost estimate is to meet with you, listen and uncover the true scope of your legal needs.

How and when do you bill?

RT: At Brewe Layman, we send a bill (email or post, depending on your preference) once per month, normally around the 25th. It covers all the services provided within a 30-day period.

Important considerations:

What’s the best way for me to break the news to my kids?

RT: In my experience, children are very astute and are often more aware of what’s going on than you may realize (depending on their age). The truth is that no one knows or understands the needs of your child better than you, so trust yourself and have confidence in your chosen approach. Be sensitive to their needs; listen carefully when they express their feelings and never disparage the other parent in an attempt to win your child’s favor. Depending on the needs of your children, a counsellor may help navigate this discussion.

How do I deal with my soon-to-be ex during the divorce?

RT: Divorce is a major life event – it’s completely normal to have mixed emotions. Just remember that the way in which you manage those emotions can impact the divorce proceedings. Be mindful of your actions and the words that you use. I also strongly advise refraining from turning to social media to vent. Remember: you will be dealing with your soon-to-be-ex spouse for years to come, including your child’s graduation and wedding, etc.

How do you recommend I take care of my emotional well-being?

RT: I often suggest regular visits with a professional counsellor, who will provide a balanced perspective and workable strategies to get you through those difficult moments. Try discovering a new outlet; art and music are effective therapies for many, as well as yoga, trips to the gym and long walks outdoors.

Why should I choose Brewe Layman to represent me?

RT: At Brewe Layman, we understand that divorce is likely one of the most significant events to happen in your life. We take our client’s needs seriously, which is why we approach every case as a team. As Family Law attorneys, we spend a lot of time in court hearings, mediation, arbitration, trial and depositions, and have a wealth of experience to represent you in any arena. At the same time, we’re committed to a high level of responsiveness. To ensure that you always have a point of contact when you need assistance, we assign a dedicated paralegal to your case. You can rely on us to always keep you current, providing updates as soon as they come in. This is your life and Brewe Layman will always keep you at the center of our practice.

We know that changes to the law can impact your case and we stay on top of all legal developments to adjust our legal strategy accordingly. But we don’t lose sight of the fact that divorce is a very trying time for our clients. Though we are sensitive and compassionate, we’re also aggressive and will fight for you tenaciously to ensure the best possible resolution.

Surely you have many other questions – our team will be here for you when you feel ready to talk. Contact us at your convenience to schedule an initial consultation.

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