The first visit between a client and attorney will often begin with the client announcing, “I’ve told my spouse I want a divorce. Now what?” At Schmitt Law, PLLC, we first inform the client of their rights and responsibilities and then go over the most important aspects of how to proceed.
1) Filing the Complaint for Divorce
The first thing to consider is when to file the complaint for divorce petition and how it should be served on the non-filing spouse. We encourage the client to respect their spouse, enough to tell them before they are served with divorce papers that, “I’ve retained an attorney and will be filing for divorce.” Then, work out how to officially serve the spouse.
This will make the process smoother than if the first time the spouse hears about the divorce is from a process server. If the spouse agrees to accept service voluntarily, we can even mail them the petition.
2) The Discovery List
We provide our clients with a list of documents we need to proceed with the divorce. The more information the client can give us the easier it will be to proceed. It is a comprehensive and extensive list and includes the need for all financial documents. For example:
- Tax returns.
- Bank statements.
- Financial documents showing retirement accounts, pensions, IRAs, 401(k)s, and similar accounts.
- Deeds to real estate.
- Financial documents from a business or professional practice.
It may take a while for client to pull these documents together. If the client does not have access to these documents, then I get them from the other spouse or that spouse’s attorney.
3) Choosing a Divorce Process
There are options for how the divorce process can proceed. One choice is Collaborative Divorce. We give our clients two copies of a flyer about Collaborative Divorce, one for the client and one for the spouse. We also provide information about a website that has detailed information about how the collaborative process works and names of attorneys in their area who practice collaboratively.
If we decide to use the Collaborative Divorce process, then we do not file the petition until the attorneys are on board with the process.
After the other spouse has retained an attorney, we will talk over the phone about how to move forward. If the collaborative process is not going to work, then we talk about the options of filing the petition.
Even if the parties decide against using the collaborative process, Kent County has made it mandatory that for the couple to go through mediation before they can get to a final hearing.
For more information, contact me, Laurie Schmitt, at Schmitt Law, PLLC. I am an Attorney, Mediator, and Collaborative Divorce lawyer.