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A Legal Perspective On Divorce and Separation

When you tell your friends or family that you are considering a divorce, usually the first thing they recommend is to hire an attorney. If you have really decided to investigate whether a divorce is the right action to take then talking to an attorney can be just one of the steps you take. But this step should only be one that happens at the end of a sincere effort to renew your marriage or solve marital problems.

When you talk to a divorce attorney it is important to understand that he or she has an entirely different perspective than a marriage counselor. A divorce attorney is not there to help you repair the marriage, but rather to make sure you are treated fairly during the divorce process. If you don’t want to end your marriage, but feel you must protect yourself it’s important to realize the attorney is not going to offer solutions to keep the marriage intact. His or her job is to help you obtain a divorce that complies with the laws of the state while insuring that all issues are settled fairly.

A divorce attorney can be accessed for a number of reasons.

  • To begin divorce proceedings
  • To request a divorce petition be put on hold
  • To attempt to block a spousal divorce petition
  • To finalize a separation

The attorney will work with you to identify all of the issues related to ending a marriage and then act as a negotiator on your behalf. These issues include child custody and visitation rights and division of property.

Separation or Divorce

Many marriages end long before they should or before every attempt has been made to reconcile differences. In the heat of the battle, so to speak, it can seem to be hugely relieving to make the decision to divorce. Someone once said a marriage actually ends emotionally 5 years before it actually ends legally. This is probably true, but when you think about it that means there are 5 years when real effort could be made to save the marriage.

If it comes down to a divorce, it might be better to consider a legal separation. A divorce attorney will file a petition in court to have you and your spouse considered as separate persons. A legal separation is almost like a divorce because the assets are legally divided and parental rights are determined. It can be almost as expensive as a divorce too.

The main advantage of a legal separation from the viewpoint of someone not ready for the final step of divorce is that you or your spouse cannot remarry. The legal separation separates you physically, but it is not the final act of divorce. Of course at any time your attorney can convert the legal separation to a divorce.

Anguish of Divorce

It can be easy to confuse the role of the marriage counselor with the role of a divorce attorney. When marriage problems seem irreconcilable, it is tempting to run to an attorney. Sometimes this is a knee-jerk reaction taken more out of fear then a real desire to permanently end the marriage. But going to a divorce attorney will not solve marital problems. It will lead to the dissolution of the marriage. You should always keep this in mind so you don’t confuse the roles of counselor and attorney.

It is always recommended that you seek marriage counseling before deciding to separate or divorce. The attorney will most likely ask you if you have considered marriage counseling. From a legal perspective, this information can be useful to the attorney when it comes to deciding how to settle the issues of the marriage. An attorney also prefers to only begin the divorce process with the knowledge that you and your spouse have made some effort on your own to reconcile.

Getting a divorce is usually as step taken after much anguish. Every effort should be made to avoid divorce if at all possible. Often problems in a marriage seem larger than life when in fact they are manageable. The intense negative emotions that build between the couple after years of arguing can blind them to possible solutions. Going to an attorney will not solve marriage problems. A divorce attorney is there to help you get a divorce. It is the marriage counselor who should be at the top of your list if you really don’t want a divorce and want to try and restore the relationship.

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