Divorce is a multifaceted process that unfolds uniquely for everyone who experiences it. If you have decided to divorce in Columbia, MO, it’s natural to feel uncertain about your impending legal proceedings. You likely have many questions regarding how to prepare for your divorce case and what you can do to streamline the process. There is no single “right” way to prepare for divorce in Missouri. However, there are a few things anyone can do to make a divorce case easier to manage.

Taking time to adequately prepare for the various phases of your divorce can help you approach the situation with greater confidence. Preparing for divorce proceedings can also potentially speed up the process and improve the outcome of your case.

Find Legal Counsel

Perhaps the most important thing you can do to prepare for divorce in Columbia, MO is to secure legal representation. While it’s technically possible to handle divorce without an attorney, the right legal counsel on your side can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of your case. An experienced attorney will carefully review the details of your impending divorce to help you make more informed decisions about each aspect of your divorce proceedings.

You can rely on your attorney for several valuable legal services throughout your divorce. They can assist you with financial disclosure, helping you secure the documentation you must produce to complete the property division process according to Missouri state law. They can provide valuable support and guidance when it comes to child custody determination, helping you make the strongest possible case for custody. If you decide to explore alternative dispute resolution to save time and money on your divorce, your attorney can provide ongoing guidance through collaborative divorce or mediation proceedings.

If you need to go to court to settle your divorce, your attorney can help you approach litigation with greater confidence. The courtroom environment can be intimidating for anyone who doesn’t have solid legal experience. Fortunately, you can rely on your attorney to prepare you before every court appearance.

Gather Documentation and Keep Careful Records

Property division is an important component of the divorce process, and you should prepare for your financial disclosure statement. You must gather records that prove your separate property ownership rights as well as your marital assets and debts. Both you and your spouse must produce financial disclosure statements to ensure a fair division of property under Missouri’s equitable distribution law.

Once you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, it’s a good idea to start carefully tracking all your expenses and activity in all your shared accounts. Unfortunately, some people preparing for divorce will intentionally squander marital assets, attempt to siphon cash into private individual accounts, or otherwise attempt to diminish their spouse’s share of the marital property. Keeping detailed and accurate financial records throughout your divorce is the best way to counter such actions and to prevent yourself from accusations of lying in your financial disclosure statement.

Maintain Strong Relationships with Your Kids

Whether you expect to become the custodial parent of your children or know your spouse will assume majority custody, it’s important to do your best to explain the situation to your children. Helping them through what could be one of the most difficult experiences of their lives so far is one of your most important responsibilities during this time. While your divorce proceedings and professional life are likely to command a great deal of your time and attention, it’s vital to devote as much time as possible to your children. Be especially aware of younger children, who are unlikely to understand what is happening around them.

Talking to kids about divorce can be incredibly difficult, and some parents make the mistake of attempting to turn their kids against the other parent. No matter what your soon-to-be ex-spouse may have done to you, never involve your children in your unpleasant interactions with one another. Regardless of the truth of your situation, your children will likely resent you for these negative actions when they grow older. Instead of allowing the divorce to become a wedge between you and your children, try to turn the situation into an opportunity for you to build stronger one-on-one relationships.

Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution

You don’t necessarily need to settle your divorce entirely through litigation. Many couples in Columbia, MO and throughout the US are choosing alternative dispute resolution to avoid the time, stress, and expense divorce litigation usually requires. If both you and your spouse are willing to participate, alternative dispute resolution could potentially help the two of you resolve your divorce more efficiently and with more personalized terms than a judge could allow.

If you intend to take advantage of the benefits of alternative dispute resolution, you will need to research your local options. Your Columbia, MO divorce lawyer can help you understand collaborative divorce or assist you in finding a mediator if you believe that divorce mediation would be more suitable for your situation.

Address Any Outstanding Unique Variables

Every divorce case is unique, and there may be variables present in your case that other couples will not need to address. For example, if you and your spouse have a prenuptial contract, your divorce case could be little more than a formal review of the contract and implementing the postnuptial terms outlined. If you have experienced domestic violence, or if your spouse has accused you of any type of domestic abuse, you will need to address these issues as soon as possible.

The best way to handle any unique variables present in your divorce case is by consulting an experienced Columbia, MO divorce attorney. The sooner you secure legal representation for your divorce, the easier it will be for you to address any complex issues that arise. You will also be better prepared for the difficult proceedings ahead and feel more confident about your legal situation. If you are preparing to divorce in the near future, contact an experienced Columbia, MO divorce lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case.