What To Do Before You File?


For many families, summer is the beginning of cross-country trips and new adventures. However, the summer break is also a preferred time to initiate divorce or other family law proceedings as parents can begin the process with a lesser impact on educational or afterschool schedules for their children. When pursuing divorce, separation, or other family law matters, it is essential to be prepared and informed prior to filing.

Finances play a central role in many family law matters, therefore, reviewing and collecting financial records is one of the most beneficial first steps to take. Gaining access to and making copies of key documents such as pay stubs, bank, real estate, and credit card statements as well as investments, retirement, and tax documents can save time, money, and stress. These documents provide insight into the financial needs and expenses of the parties and are helpful in determining property ownership as well as settlement possibilities. Further, in the event temporary support or other interim orders are requested after filing the initial petition having access to financial records can save considerable time and money.

In addition to obtaining financial documents, it is extremely beneficial to organize legal questions and prioritize concerns from most to least pressing. For example, one party could be most concerned with securing custody and visitation with their children, determining support and less concerned with the allocation of retirement plans. By deciding which areas are most important one can more effectively and efficiently address those issues, rather than getting overwhelmed and trying to resolve every item or get lost in the minutiae of who keeps the backup holiday china no one really uses.

Before filing a petition for a family law matter, it is essential to consult with an experienced family law attorney. A reputable law firm’s consultation will provide answers to important legal questions and help map out the steps needed to resolve the matter. During a consultation, the attorney should also provide explanations of applicable laws to ensure the party is well informed of their rights and the implications of their filing. For instance, once a petition is filed, several Automatic Temporary Restraining Orders “ATROs” go into effect which contains provisions limiting the movement of minor children, restrictions on changing property, legal instruments and more. If not fully explained, a violation of the ATROs, even unknowingly, can result in legal or financial penalties. Finally, a qualified attorney should be able to provide realistic expectations of the costs and time associated with achieving your goals as well as possible alternatives.

With most divorces or family law issues containing several areas of contention and dozens of moving parts, being prepared and having the support and guidance of an experienced professional can help you start the process on the right foot. To receive the care, advocacy, and information you need, contact The Reape-Rickett Law Firm today and meet with one of our experienced attorneys.

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