Pitfalls of filing too early.
What does filing for divorce really mean?
We receive a lot of calls with folks wanting to “file” for separation of divorce. What does this really mean? The act of filing a Petition is a really big decision with impactful consequences to be mindful of. Over the years, I have seen too many people rush into this step without getting thorough advice or trying to do it all themselves. Nothing good ever comes from someone being served. Here are a few tips and pitfalls to avoid:
- Before even considering filing yourself, without using an attorney, meet with a mediator, divorce coach or collaboratively trained attorney to better understand the process options. There are ways to save time, money and stress of an unnecessary adversarial process in most situations.
- Consider a divorce or separation workshop or meeting with a pastor, counselor or collaboratively trained professional to create a roadmap for the least impactful transition.
- If you feel you must file in court due to domestic violence or other emergency, at least have an attorney review the documents for you and consider having a paralegal prepare the documents at a reduced cost.
- Talk to your partner or spouse about filing jointly as co-petitioners (unless there is domestic violence), to reduce the chance of having a costly adversarial process. You may also save in filing fees.
- If you have a child under the age of 17, sign up for the mandatory parenting class in your county first. Even better, if your spouse does so also, statistics show better co-parenting relationships the earlier the parent education class is taken.
- When at all possible, avoid having anyone served. In my opinion, this should only be a last resort, as it creates much unnecessary fear and anger. There are other ways to accomplish the requirement by statute, such as filing as co-petitioners or the other party accepting service. Keeping surprises at a minimum is usually best to preserve opportunities for an amicable and low cost, low stress transition, unless an emergency circumstance exists. If in doubt, please meet with a licensed attorney in your state.
Based on the above points, it is usually best to file court documents together as co-petitioners after agreements are reached for the least awful divorce or separation. Think “conscious uncoupling” coined by Gwyneth Paltrow as a kinder, gentler way of divorcing. Keep in mind, there is no waiting period in Oregon for obtaining a divorce and it usually takes 9 months to a year to wait for a trial date if you file and wait it out. This makes collaboration, mediation, or kitchen table settlements, all the more appealing to reduce the time in a stressful transition.
Once you and your partner or spouse think you have an agreement on all details of your separation or divorce, you may only need one meeting with a mediator to fill in any missing areas and get help with any necessary details. The filing itself, if uncontested and all agreed upon, can be done in as little as two weeks from start to finish. Give us a call or e-mail with any questions and we can help personally match you up with the best resources for your family and budget. It is always my hope to help families with peaceful resolutions during a stressful and difficult time in their lives.