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Ending a marriage isn’t easy. It can be very challenging and leave you feeling helpless, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have decided that your marriage is no longer working and you want to move forward with separation, there are many ways you can legally traverse through the process while keeping your interests and those of your spouse in mind.
Confirm States’ Residency Requirements.
To legally terminate a marriage, you and your spouse must reside in a particular state. Some states have residency requirements that must be met by both spouses, while other states have only one residency requirement. Entering a separation agreement is the best way to ensure a swift and amicable divorce. By agreeing, the two of you can negotiate any issues that might otherwise be settled by a judge or through a court proceeding. Some couples don’t agree because they think it will make the divorce take longer, but the opposite is true.
Consult with a Divorce Attorney.
You and your spouse will have a conversation but also need legal representation. This is especially important if you have children or have a high net worth. An experienced attorney, family lawyers in Melbourne can help you navigate the process and protect your rights through a divorce. Some states require you to hire an attorney because the process is so complex. In other states, you can proceed without an attorney, but you’ll want to ensure you understand the process and your rights as a divorcing spouse. If you’re married, it’s best to wait until a year after your anniversary date before pursuing a divorce. This is because, in some states, you’ll need to prove you’ve lived apart from your spouse for a certain period to obtain a divorce.
File for Separation Petition.
To legally separate from your spouse, you must file a petition for legal separation in the state in which you live. This petition requests the court to legally separate you from your spouse. You’ll want to consult with your divorce attorney to discuss the best way to file your petition. If you’re filing for legal separation, you’ll likely have to file a complaint or petition and a verified affidavit. You’ll also need to include a summons informing your spouse that they have been named a defendant in the legal separation petition.
Settle Unresolved Issues.
While legally separating from your spouse, you will likely have unresolved issues. Some couples can settle these issues independently with help from a mediator or therapist, while others have difficulty negotiating. If you and your spouse have difficulty negotiating terms for your separation, you might consider hiring a collaborative divorce attorney. A collaborative divorce attorney brings both spouses together in a team-approach environment in which they attempt to reach an agreement that both are satisfied.
Negotiate and Document an Agreement.
If you and your spouse can negotiate terms for your separation agreement, you’ll want to document the terms and sign the agreement. An agreement is legally binding and can be used in court if one of you challenges the terms of the separation agreement. You might also choose to have your separation agreement notarized or have your spouse sign an acknowledgement of its terms. This way, you have a physical record of the agreement that can be used in court if necessary. If you and your spouse are having difficulty coming to terms with an agreement, you can also consult with a mediator or therapist who may be able to help you reach an agreement.
Execute The Agreement.
Once you and your spouse have agreed to the terms of the separation agreement, you’ll want to execute the agreement. An executed separation agreement can be used as evidence in court if necessary. It can also help speed up the divorce process if one or both spouses file for divorce based on the terms of the separation agreement. You may want to consult with your divorce attorney about the best way to execute your separation agreement. You can sign it in the presence of a notary public. It’s important to keep a physical copy of the signed separation agreement and a digital copy that you can store on your laptop, computer, or another device in case you need to refer to it later.
As you work through the divorce process, it can be useful to remember that the end of your marriage is not a failure. It means that you and your spouse have decided to move in different directions.