The Big “D,” Part 1 of 2
It’s not my favorite topic, but divorce has become a part of life for so many. According to cdc.gov, in 2014, there were 813,862 divorces in the U.S. (45 reporting states and DC). Recently, I invited Paul Rice, Esq., of the Rice Law Firm, to PlanStrongerTV™ to answer a few questions on this subject. This week and next, my column will feature key points from our conversation.
Did you know there is more than one type of divorce? You could go the traditional route, where both parties “lawyer up” and go to court to battle over children, money, and belongings – or you might take an alternative approach called a “collaborative divorce.” In a collaborative divorce each partner has his/her own lawyer, but there is an agreement not to go to court. The lawyers also decide on mutual experts to help settle the case. There is negotiation through mediation (all cases must go through mediation in the state of Florida), which affords much more control of the outcome. It can also be considerably cheaper than a divorce that must go through the court system.
When a case does go to court, there is a certain order to the way issues are addressed. Paul shared his acronym of “PEACE” as an easy way to remember the order. “P” is for Parenting. “E” is for Equitable Distribution. “A” is for Alimony. “C” is for Child Support and “E” is for Everything Else. (Hopefully, at the end of the process, there will, indeed, be “PEACE.”)
I asked Paul what surprises people most when they are going through a divorce. He said many people are surprised by how slow the process can be. If both spouses are motivated and in agreement, the process can be as short as a couple months, but if children and money are points of contention, the divorce can take 12, 18, or even 24 months, to complete!
Lastly, I asked about some “don’ts” when approaching divorce. We discussed two. When divorce is imminent: 1. Don’t clear out the bank account (you will be setting the tone for the whole divorce); and 2. Don’t flaunt a new boyfriend/girlfriend or introduce him/her to your children.
Good advice. Remember, divorce laws are state-specific, so if you think your marriage may be coming to an end, make sure to consult with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney in your state of residence.