Most people know that if you’re thinking about divorce, a lawyer is one of your first calls. But some of our participants have asked, “When is the best time to consult an attorney?”
In North Carolina, you must be legally separated for one full year before a divorce can go through. One of our divorce lawyer volunteers said the best time to contact an attorney is before that separation, which gives you time to understand some of the necessary steps in the process.
However, sometimes life will not work out that way for people.
- Your Partner’s Decision — For example, if your spouse announces his or her intention to divorce and then moves out, you’ll be contacting a lawyer after separation.
- Abuse – More importantly, if you are in a situation in which you are being abused, you must leave as soon as possible for your own safety.
Counseling – If you and your partner are in counseling, you might not want to contact an attorney, thinking that doing so is betraying the work you both are putting in. That’s a good situation for our workshop, a way you can speak to a lawyer without officially starting that relationship. However, you might still want to have that first conversation with a lawyer so you know what to expect.
Finally, one important tip: Call an attorney when you feel emotionally ready for the discussion. Your attorney will be your advocate; he or she will learn a lot about you and your relationship and your finances. Be prepared to discuss those things. Be prepared to listen and accept his or her advice — at least if you want a good outcome. However, remember he or she is not your therapist. While he or she expects the occasional emotional outburst — it’s only natural in most cases — save your emotional baggage for someone trained to help with it.
More questions about divorce? Find out what you need to know by visiting our workshop each month where a lawyer, a therapist, and a financial adviser answer your questions.