What Is The First Thing To Do When Separating?

Separating from a partner is a process with plenty of emotional and practical adjustments to consider. But where should you start? What is the first thing you need to do when separating?  

Every case is different, but it makes sense to consult a divorce attorney as the first step

This will help you get a clear picture of the legal steps in front of you. It’s better to seek legal help sooner than later, as an experienced lawyer will be able to guide you throughout the entire process with respect to your state and local rules. 

In the sections below, we’ll take a look at the very first thing to do when separating, how to select a divorce attorney, and how these legal experts can make the remaining steps much more manageable. 

The First 5 Things To Do When Separating 

As mentioned above, it makes sense to reach out to a divorce attorney as the first step when separating. However, there are other items to consider, and an experienced lawyer can guide you through most of them. 

Let’s run through a high-level overview of how this process works with the following steps: 

Step 1: Select a Divorce Attorney 

You’ll want to select a reputable divorce attorney in your area. Most states have specific laws when it comes to divorce and custody cases, so finding a local lawyer who practices in your area is crucial, as they will know the ins and outs of how to approach your situation. 

Also, you’ll want to find a lawyer based on testimonials from previous clients (in cases similar to yours) as well as location. Finding a reputable, professional, and compassionate attorney is key here, and you’ll need to set up a consultation to get a sense of how they’ll approach your case and the overall compatibility level. 

Step 2: Determine Grounds For Divorce 

Through these next steps, you’ll begin to see why selecting an attorney is the first thing to do when separating. After all, an experienced lawyer will be able to help with most of the remaining steps. 

That includes determining grounds for divorce and how to proceed. An attorney will help you file a divorce petition, prepare a settlement agreement, or begin negotiations, depending on your case. 

Step 3: Understand State Laws

This step is more crucial than it may initially seem. Each state has specific laws and processes when it comes to divorce and separation. Understanding them early on will set you up for less stress in the long run, as you will be able to coordinate the legal process smoothly. 

For example, states can differ in terms of residency requirements, grounds for divorce, property distribution, and more.  Most places require a person to have lived in a state or county for a certain time before filing, but the time periods can often differ based on location. 

Also, state laws can affect how property is divided as well as custody arrangements and spousal support. It’s best to understand these rules before starting the planning process. 

Step 4: Financial Assessment 

Once you understand the state rules and have the initial steps completed, a divorce attorney will undergo a financial assessment. You can expedite this process by having financial records like bank statements, credit card statements, loan documents, vehicle registrations, property documents, or any existing prenuptial agreements ready for review.

This can be a long and tedious process, so getting organized from the beginning is a crucial step that will save you time and stress down the road. 

Step 5: Nurture Your Well-Being

You could argue that this is the first thing to do when separating, but it’s actually a step that should exist alongside all the previous items. 

Dealing with separation and divorce can take an emotional and mental toll. Having a strong support system and/or considering counseling can help you process emotions and the decisions ahead. Some find support groups beneficial too. 

Everyone has different preferences on this front, but making sure you are taking care of your well-being is paramount. 

Essential Documents For Legal Separation Or Divorce

We touched on this in the “financial assessment” section above, and having certain documents ready for review will help expedite the legal process while saving you time and stress. 

Here are some items that you should consider bringing to your custody lawyer to help build your case: 

  • Tax Returns
  • Bank Statements
  • Credit Card Statements
  • List of Assets 
  • List of Debts
  • Personal Identification Documents (ID, passport, SS card)
  • Titles (real property, cars, etc.)
  • Appraisals 

Outlining which assets and debts are shared vs. individual ahead of time is another helpful step that will help move your case along. A divorce attorney can provide more specifics of how to do this and which additional documents are needed for review. 

Talk To Our Experienced Divorce & Custody Lawyers Today 

Navigating a legal separation or divorce can be daunting, especially when dealing with the emotional and mental stress of this process. The legal system can seem overwhelming, and understanding your state’s unique rules in these cases can be a complex journey. 

That’s where our experienced divorce and custody lawyers at Jezic & Moyse come in. We are experts in handling these cases while creating a safe and welcoming atmosphere so we can discuss your situation and build a plan to advocate for you. 

Contact us at (240) 292-7200 or fill out our online contact form for an initial consultation and personalized help with your case. 

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