The changing of a calendar year is a time for new beginnings, whether through resolutions or taking a fresh look at life. Unfortunately, for some people, “new beginnings” may mean embarking on a divorce process. Regardless of the specifics of your situation, the process of getting divorced can be emotionally and financially taxing.
We’ve written this blog post to give you an overview of things to consider as you prepare for divorce in 2023. Below, we’ll discuss the steps involved in a divorce and outline some practical tips on how best to manage the process so that it’s as smooth and pain-free as possible.
Is Wisconsin a No-Fault State?
Before diving into the specifics of preparing for a divorce, let’s get one thing clear: Wisconsin is a no-fault state. In this type of jurisdiction, spouses are not required to prove fault on one side to receive a divorce. As such, whether you’re the one dishing out the divorce papers or on the receiving end, you must be ready to follow the process outlined by your jurisdiction.
Once an action is filed with the court, the receiving spouse has 20 days to respond. Respecting this deadline is essential, as failure to respond can lead to a default judgment or other repercussions. Regarding timeframes, know that your divorce will only be finalized six months to a year after it was filed.
A mandatory 120-day waiting period, or cooling off, is also in place. During this time, the parties involved cannot file any additional motions or requests. It gives everyone a chance to cool down and think things through before continuing with the proceedings.
Preparing For Your Divorce in 2023
Now that you have an overview of the legal framework, it’s time to think about practical considerations. Here are a few things to know:
First and foremost, it’s important to become familiar with the process. There are many resources available online that can provide an overview of the divorce proceedings in your state. It also helps to have a basic understanding of finances so that you know how much is at stake in terms of splitting assets like property, retirement accounts, debts, etc.
You will likely be overwhelmed by the complexity of the process, and you should know that it’s ok to seek help from a lawyer or mediator. It might be more expensive, but having someone knowledgeable in the field on your side could make a big difference in the outcome of your case. At Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., we offer free consultations to discuss matters such as divorce.
Tally and Organize Your Assets
Next, you should get an inventory of your marital assets. This step will require collecting paperwork such as tax returns, property deeds, titles, bank statements and account information, and credit card debts. Make sure to also consider any joint accounts held by both parties involved in the divorce.
Organize all these documents into folders or binders, making them easy to reference when needed. Alternatively, you can store them in a secure online system like Google Drive or Dropbox, as long as you keep your login credentials safe. These will be useful to have handy when it comes to filing taxes, negotiating the settlement, and determining who gets what.
Budget For Your Future
It’s no secret that getting a divorce can be costly. Make sure you have enough money to cover your living expenses and any legal costs associated with your cases, such as attorneys’ fees or court-mandated mediation services.
It’s also important to consider what kind of financial situation you will be in after the divorce is finalized. How will you fare without the income or resources of your spouse? It might be helpful to start setting aside money in an emergency fund, or savings account so you have something to fall back on should you ever find yourself in a tough spot.
Mediation can be an attractive alternative if you prefer to avoid a court battle. The process involves having a mutually agreed upon third-party help you and your spouse agree on how assets, debts, and other matters should be handled in the divorce.
The mediator will act as a neutral facilitator who helps both sides communicate effectively and reach an agreement that works for both parties. This can often be a faster, less expensive, and more amicable way to settle the terms of your divorce.
You can opt to hire a private mediator, or you can go through the court system and have a judge order mediation.
Understand Temporary Hearings
Another thing to consider is that the divorce process can take a while. In some cases, there might be temporary hearings where one party requests a judge to make an interim ruling on matters such as:
- Child Custody: Who will have custody of the children while the divorce is pending? If one parent is awarded interim custody, the other might be granted visitation rights.
- Use of assets: From cars to the primary residence, you might need to establish which party will be allowed to use certain shared assets while the divorce is in process.
- Spousal Support or Child Support: If one spouse earns significantly more than the other, temporary spousal support might be ordered by a judge until a formal agreement can be made. Likewise, temporary child support might be ordered to cover the cost of raising the children.
It’s important to understand that these rulings are only temporary and that the final agreement might differ. However, they can still significantly impact your day-to-day life while the divorce is finalized, which, if you remember, can take a while.
Don’t Fight Outside of Court
Emotions can run high during a divorce, and it can be tempting to fight with your spouse outside of court. However, this will only complicate matters and make the process longer and more expensive.
It’s important to remember that you are going through a legal process — one where communication is key. Keep calm when discussing contentious issues with your spouse, and always remain respectful. If things get too heated, you can always take a break and speak with your attorney or mediator instead.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Divorce can be incredibly draining, both mentally and emotionally. It’s important to ensure you take the time to take care of yourself during this difficult process. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating right, and engaging in activities that help reduce your stress levels.
You might also consider talking to a therapist. Your support system can be a great resource to turn to during this trying time, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you need it. Friends, family, and even your attorney can offer valuable advice and support throughout the divorce process.
Start Your New Life
Sometimes, spouses get so wrapped up in the proceedings that they forget to start building their lives post-divorce. You don’t want to make the same mistake. It’s crucial to start creating a new life while you are still in the midst of your divorce. That way, you won’t be scrambling to put things together once the process is over.
Start making plans for your future, including getting a new job, moving to a different city, or going back to school. A divorce can be an opportunity to reinvent yourself and start fresh — don’t let it pass you by.
The Benefits of Hiring a Divorce Attorney
It’s important to remember that divorce is a legal process. It’s in your best interest to hire a lawyer who specializes in family law, especially if your ex-spouse has their own legal counsel. A Wisconsin divorce lawyer can help protect your rights, ensure that you get a fair settlement, and provide support throughout the entire process.
Keep in mind that hiring an attorney doesn’t mean you have to go to court — many divorces are settled out of court with the help of attorneys. However, if the situation does require going to court, having legal representation can take a lot of the stress off your shoulders and help you get the best outcome.
Finally, hiring an attorney enables you to begin the healing process sooner. A good divorce lawyer will take care of the paperwork, filing deadlines, and other legal minutiae that can be distracting and emotionally draining. This will free you up to focus on rebuilding your life after divorce.
Consult With Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C.
Divorce can be a tedious and complex process, but with the right preparation, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With that in mind, Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., is here to help.
We have over 40 years of experience in family law, with expert divorce attorneys with the knowledge and resources to assist you in your divorce. Your well-being is our priority, and we are committed to helping you get through this tough time with as little stress as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns about the divorce process in 2023, don’t hesitate toreach out to us today. We’ll turn this new year into a new, better chapter in your life.