Divorce is likely to be one of the most challenging and stressful experiences of your life. Even if you are entirely convinced it’s time to end your marriage, the actual divorce process itself is incredibly arduous. In fact, divorce usually entails much more than many people realize. If you are ending your marriage in St. Charles, MO, it’s a good idea to understand the steps necessary to complete the process and how to prepare for each of them.

Everyone will have unique needs and concerns when it comes to their divorce proceedings. As a result, there is no single “correct” strategy for approaching divorce. However, there are a few things everyone should do to help streamline their proceedings and reach a satisfactory result.

Preparing for Property Division

Divorce is likely to change your financial situation dramatically. Whether you are a two-income household or one of you supports the other financially, divorce will alter your current economic situation in several ways. Property division is just one of the financial issues you will face in divorce, and both you and your spouse must prepare accurate financial records for the property division process. Missouri upholds an equitable distribution rule for property division in divorce, and your financial disclosure will be essential for ensuring a fair and reasonable division of property.

Your attorney can provide valuable guidance when it comes to gathering the financial information you will need to provide for your divorce. It’s essential to be truthful when it comes to financial disclosure. If you attempt to hide assets, this will reflect poorly on you once your actions are discovered. You could be held in contempt of court and end up with an unfavorable property division settlement. You may even face criminal charges if you engaged in any fraud or other intentional harm, since presenting false information to the court is a criminal offense. No matter how much you might hate the idea of splitting your property with your spouse in divorce, never try to hide assets in financial disclosure.

How to Prepare for Child Custody Determination

If you have children with your spouse, the most challenging aspect of your divorce is likely to be your child custody determination. It can be extremely distressing for any parent to imagine losing time with their child. However, if you and your spouse are both capable parents, it’s vital to do your best to separate the personal issues between you from your shared responsibilities as parents. You should do your best to remain an active part of your child’s life as much as possible during your divorce proceedings. While your divorce may be hard on you, it is likely much worse for your children—especially younger children who have no frame of reference for what is happening to their family unit.

The best way to prepare for your child custody determination is to make the strongest possible case for custody that you can. Whether you intend to seek full custody or plan on sharing custody with your ex, your attorney can help you gather any materials you may require for making your case. This may include character references from family, friends, and neighbors who can support your position as a capable and attentive parent.

Addressing Unique Variables in Your Divorce

Every divorce involves unique factors you may not know how to address on your own. For example, if you and your spouse have a prenuptial contract, you may be uncertain how to enforce the terms of the contract in divorce. Or, you may not know whether the contract is still enforceable in the first place. It’s also possible that you experienced domestic violence of some kind, and you need to know your options for preventing similar behavior in the future to protect yourself and your family.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for preparing for divorce, so the best way to address any variables present in your case is to consult an experienced lawyer. Your legal team will help you determine the best options available in your situation. They can help you review an existing prenuptial contract if necessary to determine its validity and its impact on your divorce. If you believe your spouse has engaged in any illegal conduct, your attorney can help you ensure this behavior receives appropriate consideration in the St. Charles, MO family court system.

Potential Options for Avoiding Litigation

Another key aspect of preparing for divorce is determining how to approach the situation. When most people think of divorce, they imagine emotionally charged court battles. However, your divorce does not necessarily need to unfold via litigation. Many couples throughout the United States are taking advantage of alternative dispute resolution to avoid the stress and expense litigation typically involves.

The two most used forms of alternative dispute resolution are collaborative divorce and mediation. You can think of collaborative divorce as a private settlement negotiation between you and your spouse. The two of you and your respective lawyers will meet privately to negotiate a divorce settlement. Mediation is similar, but it unfolds under the guidance of a neutral mediator. The mediator is a third party charged with helping a divorcing couple draft their divorce order and answering any legal questions that arise.

Securing Legal Counsel for a St. Charles Divorce

No matter what your divorce entails or how you intend to handle the process, the most important thing you can do to prepare for your divorce is to obtain legal counsel. An experienced St. Charles, MO family law attorney is an invaluable asset regardless of the issues you experience during divorce or how you plan to resolve them. Your legal team can assist you with every aspect of preparing for divorce proceedings. They’ll help you secure the financial disclosure documents you’ll need to provide, help you approach child custody determination with confidence, and assist you in exploring options for alternative dispute resolution that may streamline your divorce experience.

Divorce is never easy, but you can make the process smoother by hiring the right St. Charles divorce lawyer to represent you. If you are unsure how to prepare for your divorce, contact an experienced St. Charles, MO divorce attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options.