Retain an Attorney
This is the most basic step in divorce preparation. Without retaining a good attorney who is well versed in family law, there is little chance at getting a desirable outcome. While no divorce decision will be ideal for either party, there are ways to make it a better decision for the individual. One way is making sure, as a man, your rights and interests are looked after from the beginning by a professional family law attorney. Retaining an attorney involves an initial consultation to explain the situation and then paying a retainer, usually 10 to 20 percent of the expected total bill. Some may also require a more substantial payment to be held in an escrow account.
The next decision to make is who will file. Legally, the party that files holds no special rights or advantages over the party that responds to the filing. Both parties have the same burden of proof when it comes to determining fault and matters of finance and, in the case of children, who would be the preferred parent. Therefore, filing is more a matter of expediting the process. Sometimes, this is done by joint decision. Marriage Builders, a pro-family organization, says women file for divorce at twice the rate of men.
Any man who is a father preparing for a divorce will also need to consider custody issues. There are two major issues at the beginning of the divorce to contend with: temporary or permanent custody. Any man who wants to fight for permanent custody should at least fight for a 50/50 temporary arrangement. Also, keep notes on the time you and your wife spend with the children; note outings, missed visits and any other relevant information. There are many organizations that offer help for men in custody battles (see Resources).
After custody, one of the other primary issues considered is financial support. If it is being requested, there may be some options for the man to consider. Child support and alimony are the two major forms of support. Child support is based on a formula taking into consideration what each parent earns and the number of children. There is little discretion.
A request for alimony can be resisted--at least the amount requested can be negotiated. There is much more discretion regarding alimony support than there is with child support. Therefore, those men who are hoping to save money should really consider this as an issue on which to make a stand.
The final thing to consider when preparing for a divorce is property division. If the house is paid for, it is an asset. It if it is not paid off, it may be considered a liability. Assets and liabilities will likely be divided as evenly as possible. However, all men and women should realize there is no such thing as a totally equal allocation. Carefully gather all outstanding bills and make a list of all major assets. This will serve as a starting point for negotiations. If possible, settling this out of court is the best way to ensure each party gets at least some of what he and she wants.