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Divorcing? Here are the basics of what you should know

If you've decided to get a divorce from your spouse, you may be ready to separate but not know how to go about doing so. The steps you take next could impact your case over time, so it's smart to do what you can to prepare.

Usually, people discuss the idea of a divorce before going to their attorneys, but it can be more beneficial to you to seek support from an attorney before you speak with your spouse about divorce. Why? Once you speak with your spouse, they could make it harder for you to access your bank account or shared accounts, limit access to certain assets or even hide assets that you don't have proof of existing. Taking the time to collect documents and speak with your attorney first helps avoid that situation.

Where do you file for a divorce?

The state has jurisdiction over the divorce, but which state has jurisdiction could be questionable. Usually, you can seek a divorce in the state where you have resided for at least six months or in the state where you got married. If you haven't lived in a new state long enough, your old state might have jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is a little tricky, but your attorney can help you work out where to file your case.

What kind of divorce should you seek?

The next question to ask yourself is what kind of divorce you want to file for. You could seek a no-fault divorce or one based on grounds recognized as a fault, for example. Filing a divorce (at-fault) or no-fault divorce doesn't necessarily impact the outcome, but fault-based divorces are often not subject to the same waiting periods as no-fault divorces. For example, people divorcing over simple differences may have to wait two years to divorce, while those who were victims of adultery, violence or other recognizes grounds may be able to divorce without that waiting period.

These waiting periods are designed to help people separate over time and to give them a chance to reconcile (if they are going to). Other states have different requirements, which may also play a role in deciding where you want to divorce if multiple states have jurisdiction in your case.

Getting through your divorce might seem difficult, but with the right support, it's possible to resolve it in an efficient manner. Speak with your attorney, and they will discuss with you any separation period that you have to go through, which state has jurisdiction and answer any questions you have about your case.

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