It’s helpful to think in terms of the four conversations you and your spouse must have. These conversations can be very difficult, and it may be daunting to imagine having these conversations with your spouse.
If you are a parent, you must have a conversation to decide how to co-parent the children and provide two homes.
If you have accumulated property and debts during the marriage, you must have a conversation about how the property will be divided.
If you are not each financially self-sufficient, you must have a conversation about cash flow; how the income streams that have been supporting one household will be divided to support two households.
These four conversations include all of the issues that divorce lawyers put into legal pleadings such as Child Custody, Equitable Distribution, Child Support and Alimony.
Options for Having the Four Conversations
How you go about having the four conversations is vitally important. Hiring a divorce lawyer who anticipates representing you in court means that you will turn these conversations over to the lawyer. He or she will have the conversations with your spouse’s lawyer. Your involvement in the conversations will be limited. In some cases, this may be the best way for these conversations to happen.
Hiring a family law attorney who anticipates helping you have these conversations as part of collaborative law proceedings outside of the threat of court means retaining more control over the conversations and what happens to your family. In many cases this is a healthier and less combative way to have these conversations.
Couples who have been married for only a short time and who have not had children together may find that they are able to effectively talk about these matters “over a cup of coffee,” or with a mediator. Family law attorneys using collaborative law proceedings can help answer legal questions and draft the legal documents.