What is the first step to take when getting a divorce? 29 Answers as of July 11, 2013

My husband and I have been married 10.5 years with two children, both 5 years old. What is the initial step I need to take when deciding to divorce?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law
Gregory T. Buckley, Attorney at Law | Gregory T. Buckley
You should try to meet with a family law attorney in your area to discuss your options and rights.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 7/8/2013
Osterman Law LLC
Osterman Law LLC | Mark D. Osterman
This is a truly tough question. If you are undecided about a divorce and need to know what would be the first step, I would consider that what I do in the divorce will effect me the rest of my natural life. For instance, we are not just dealing with the kids and when child support stops and starts and who gets visits. But this effects pensions, the next mate you chose, the effect on your kids for their lives. If you have decided to get a divorce, then I would start paper gathering: Tax returns, pension funds, bank balances and monthly bills. Living in 2 households is not going to be cheaper and being pro-active on the household budget means more money when you separate. You will want everyone to have enough to live. Punishing your mate in the middle of the divorce will only mean anger and frustrations that makes life after the divorce a disaster.
Answer Applies to: Indiana
Replied: 7/12/2011
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
You need to sit down with a family law lawyer who will provide you with documents to complete. Then he or she can discuss with you all your legal rights and responsibilities in a divorce. There are major issues regarding child custody, child support, possible spousal support that you must learn about before you file any papers.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/12/2011
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler
Law Office of Robert L. Fiedler | Robert L Fiedler
You should hire an attorney and let me file the divorce papers for you. There are plenty of other things that need to be taken care of in the early stages and to make sure they are done properly, counsel might be necessary.
Answer Applies to: Connecticut
Replied: 7/11/2011
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law
Neville J. Bedford Attorney at Law | Neville J. Bedford
Talk to a family law attorney. Divorced friends may have a referral or you may contact the local bar association to find one.
Answer Applies to: Rhode Island
Replied: 7/12/2011
    Willick Law Group
    Willick Law Group | Marshal S. Willick
    An intelligent "first step" would be to review some background materials (see the information posted on the web sites noted below) and then go to a family expert to go through all your facts and circumstances in a full consultation.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 7/4/2013
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    Every divorce starts with a petition. This is the formal pleading filed with the Court that starts the process. That said, and with 2 kids, you need to consider hiring a lawyer. While the law allows you to represent yourself, it is not always the smartest move.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/11/2011
    Law Offices of Lopez, Pyrchalla & Kaufman, LLC
    Law Offices of Lopez, Pyrchalla & Kaufman, LLC | Russell I. Kaufman
    I believe that the first step in a divorce is to speak to a lawyer. You need to know your rights. It is important that you take the correct first steps. When you speak to the lawyer they will want to know if this is going to be an agreed divorce or if it will be contested.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/11/2011
    ROWE LAW FIRM
    ROWE LAW FIRM | Jeffrey S. Wittenbrink
    Contact an attorney! Seriously, the initial steps you need to take are many and dependent upon your situation. Only a thorough knowledge of the facts can give an attorney enough information to advise you about "initial steps."
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 7/11/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    As to a first step, I would recommend that you find a good, experienced divorce lawyer to represent you and advise you as to all your rights and options. In our divorce law blog (http://www.divorcelawyerinaugustageorgia.blogspot.com) we have posts which provide ideas on finding a divorce attorney. We also recommend that you plan where you want to live, whether or not you want to go back to school, or get a (another) job, and also plan a budget as to your needs. But first, please consult with a divorce lawyer. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/11/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    The first step you should take is to have a face-to-face consultation with an experienced Family Law Attorney regarding the specifics of your marriage, children, income, your husband's income, assets, obligations, etc.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/11/2011
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni
    Law Office of Michael W. Bugni | Jay W. Neff
    There are a series of steps to consider. 1. Do you really want to get divorced. Don't start the process until you're sure you want to do it. It is both expensive and painful. You don't want to start the process until you are sure you'll go through it. 2. Decide whether you are going to hire an attorney or represent yourself. 3. Gather information. Some things you are going to want copies of: tax forms, W-2 forms, pay stubs, credit card statements, bank statements, vehicle titles, loan documents and house documents. Some information you'll need: everyone's full name, date of birth, SSN and driver's license number; the name and address of everyone's employer; a list of all your debts and the average monthly payment on each; and your average monthly living expenses (rent, utilities, food, clothing, insurance, etc). 4. If you are representing yourself, get pattern forms. 5. If you have an attorney representing you, sit down with that person to go over all the materials you've gathered and what you want to get out of your case.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A.
    The Davies Law Firm, P.A. | Robert F. Davies, Esq.
    This is a big question. You need to meet with a divorce attorney and review your situation, and get some advice. You should do this before you do anything else, before you take any actions.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    The Coyle Law Office
    The Coyle Law Office | T. Andrew Coyle
    A good first step would be to meet with an attorney who can review your specific situation. Many lawyers offer free or low-cost consultations and they will point you in the right direction for getting started. That being said, if you are sure you are ready to start the process, the first step is to file a petition for dissolution of marriage at your county courthouse. The clerk there should be able to provide you with the necessary forms.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    Pontrello Law
    Pontrello Law | William Pontrello
    Advice of a divorce lawyer. File court documents.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/4/2013
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A.
    Joanna Mitchell & Associates, P.A. | Joanna Mitchell
    Talking to an attorney to determine your rights and options would be the first step. How you would proceed would be determined by that initial consultation. Without more information, it is impossible to answer further than that. My office offers free initial telephone consultations if you would like to discuss this matter in more detail, as well as explore the potential rights and options available.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    Seattle Divorce Services
    Seattle Divorce Services | Michael V. Fancher
    A good first step is to sit down with an attorney to discuss the process and your specific situation. The first step in the legal process is filing a petition for divorce with the court. If your husband has not joined in the petition, you will then need to have a copy served on him.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Obviously, the first step has to be making the decision to file for divorce; that is something that a lawyer can't really help you with. Once you are sure that the marriage cannot be salvaged, the first step in the legal process is to file a petition with the appropriate court - the district court for the county you live in or the county your husband lives in (if you are already physically separated and living in different counties). You should consult with a lawyer to at least understand the big picture concerning the process that is set in motion by filing the petition. It is possible to proceed with having your own lawyer, but not necessarily the smartest choice - especially if you and your husband are not able to work together to decide everything that needs to be decided.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    The first step is to file a divorce petition and related papers with the court clerk, and thus open a case. You then need to have such court-filed papers served on your spouse. Next step would be to exchange disclosures. Thereafter, hopefully you and your spouse can reach agreements on all issues. If agreements can be reached, then you can memorialize such agreements in the proper paperwork, file such papers with the court, and your divorce will be complete. Of course, that is the abridged version. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    File a case and serve the other party.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/4/2013
    The Reed Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
    The Reed Law Firm, P.L.L.C. | Vanessa Reed
    The initial step is to file a Complaint for Divorce. In Virginia, there is both "no fault" and "fault" based divorce. You must be separated for one year prior to filing a "no-fault" divorce. If fault grounds exist, you can file immediately. Fault grounds in Virginia include: abandonment/desertion, physical/mental cruelty, adultery, or imprisonment for a felony for over one year.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Brandon L. Baker Attorney at Law, P.C.
    Brandon L. Baker Attorney at Law, P.C. | Brandon L. Baker
    If you have been married for 10 years and have two minor children the divorce can be complicated and there are a lot of issues to address. I would suggest calling an attorney to have them assist you in preparing a Petition for Divorce that includes all necessary provisions to protect yourself and the children.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Law Office of James Lentz
    Law Office of James Lentz | James Lentz
    Do not wait. Once the decision to divorce is made, find a qualified domestic relations attorney for proper pre-divorce planning.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 7/4/2013
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC
    Vincent J. Bernabei LLC | Vincent J. Bernabei
    You should gather all financial records, including bank account, retirement account, and investment account statements, credit card statements, and tax returns for three years, and prepare a list of all assets of significant value and a detailed monthly budget of your projected living expenses. All of these records and information should be provided to an attorney or mediator, who can assist you in evaluating your case.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Beresford Booth PLLC
    Beresford Booth PLLC | S. Scott Burkhalter
    Deciding to divorce is a personal issue. You should consider marriage counseling before taking the road towards the death of a marriage. Procedurally, a divorce is commenced by the filing of petition for dissolution and other required court forms.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    The initial step is filing a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and all of the paperwork that would accompany that filing. You must then have your husband served with the Petition. Before filing anything, I suggest you consult a local Family Law attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Step one is hire a lawyer. Any divorce has complications, but a divorce with children is way beyond a do-it-yourself project. Step two is don't do things until you run them by your lawyer. Those two steps are the most important things you can do.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/7/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney