It’s the New Year and I am certain, millions of people are ambitiously working towards achieving their New Year’s resolutions. They have carefully laid plans, set achievable goals, and identified steps that must be taken.
Those wishing to lose weight probably have joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, scheduled exercise time, researched dietary choices, and set a weight loss goal.
Those wishing to get out of debt probably have cancelled their magazine subscriptions, started brewing their own coffee, scheduled an appointment with a financial advisor, and created a budget that enables them to get out of debt over time.
Those wishing to save for retirement probably have….
I could go on describing some of the most common New Year’s resolutions and how they might be achieved because, when it comes to most mainstream issues like losing weight or getting out of debt, most people know the steps to take to reach these desired goals.
Unfortunately, the same isn’t true for a New Year’s resolution that goes something like this:
“I resolve to get legally divorced/finish my divorce this year!”
Despite the fact that divorce is as common as a cold, it is rare for a spouse to know exactly what must be done in order to get legally divorced. In my opinion, it is a shortcoming of our highly educated society.
If you aren’t well versed in divorce laws and procedures, it is difficult to know exactly which steps must be taken to get divorced and where to begin.
So, if it is your resolution to get divorced or finish your divorce this year, what should you do to achieve your goal?
Step One: Determine whether it is legally possible to get divorced by year-end. In order to set realistic year-end divorce goals you need to know if your goals are legally achievable. Many states have mandatory waiting periods that could prevent you from terminating your marital status before December 31st. For example, if your state requires you and your spouse to be legally separated for at least a year and you are not yet technically “legally separated”, you may not be legally divorced this year. If this is the case, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Although you may not be able to get legally divorced this year, you can still work towards satisfying the underlying reason for your resolution – finalizing your divorce. Also, depending on your state’s laws, perhaps legal separation is an option.
In California, where we have a mandatory six-month waiting period before a person’s “marital status” may be terminated, it is still possible for parties to resolve all of their legal issues before the expiration of the six-month period and get a court approved divorce judgment. The judgment will address all of the issues but provide that the marital status will not terminate until the waiting period expires. Moreover, if you file and serve your Petition for Dissolution of Marriage before May 30th, you can be legally divorced by December 31, 2014.
Step Two: Identify everything you need to do to get legally divorced. You cannot achieve a goal if you do not know what you need to do to achieve the goal. So, figuring out what you need to do is essential. You can do this by reading the “How-to” books on divorce or by scheduling a consultation with a lawyer. If you are in California, you and I can work together to develop a very specific and comprehensive plan with immediate steps you can take to get divorced by year-end. Click here to learn how we can work together.
Step Three: Write down specific, identifiable steps that you can take towards accomplishing your goal. Even the simplest divorces are complex. There are lengthy forms to complete, deadlines to meet, assets to divide, houses to establish, co-parenting plans to be developed, and on and on the list goes. So in order to achieve your goal of finalizing your divorce by year-end, you will need to break your divorce process down into manageable categories, write down the tasks you must complete, and identify the steps you need to take in order to complete the necessary steps.
Step Four: Select and complete small steps almost everyday. Because divorce tasks can be labor intensive and difficult to handle I recommend taking small steps almost everyday. On difficult days, do anything that doesn’t require much brain power (i.e. packing boxes). On good days, pull out those financials and forms and get to work.
If you take these steps and your state, like California, allows you to be legally divorced within the year, getting legally divorced and creating a joyous new life are resolutions you may be able to keep.
This article is not legal advice and contains general legal information. You are urged to speak with an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.