If your spouse won’t come to court to oppose you, you’ve got an easy case. It could be that he/she is long gone, doesn’t care, or there’s not enough involved to struggle over, or because you two can work out the terms of your divorce in a written agreement. In easy cases, all that’s left is to file papers and go through some red-tape to get a judgment or decree of divorce and this shouldn’t take long or cost a lot.
Solutions common to Early, Easy and Difficult cases
- Your goal is to solve problems and settle issues without taking problems to court or hiring an attorney to represent you and “take” your case. Your goal is to end up with an Easy Case or, if your case is already easy, to keep it that way.
- Read my article, The Good Divorce, so you will have a model to keep in mind and a clear idea of things you can try to accomplish to make (or keep) your divorce peaceful.
- Get my free Divorce Checklist and start working on those items.
- Become informed. Studies show that the single most important factor in a good divorce outcome is (1) becoming informed and prepared, and (2) being an active participant in your own case. That’s what it means to “Do Your Own Divorce.”
- California. If your case is in California, get How to Do Your Own Divorce in California and read a summary of California divorce laws, decisions you need to make and advice about how to make them. It includes step-by-step instructions for the paperwork to get your judgment with all the forms you’ll need to do it.
- All other states. Go to the Reading Room and read my two articles: How to Do Your Own Divorce, and How to Learn About the Law in Your State.
- Get organized. As soon as you can, organize your facts, gather supporting documents. Start thinking about how to divide marital property, how much spousal support should be paid (if any), and how children will be supported and parented after separation or divorce. I created a set of Divorce Worksheets that will help you organize, think about and discuss the facts and finances in your case. Working with them will give you greater confidence in dealing with your divorce and will definitely save you time and money. These same worksheets come free with my How to Do Your Own Divorce books, or Make Any Divorce Better or you can get them separately.
- Learn problem solving. If things are difficult—or might get difficult—get my book, Make Any Divorce Better and learn about the specific things you can do to smooth things out and keep them that way. The things you can do for yourself are far more effective than anything any attorney can do for you. As advised in that book:
- Best not to talk to your spouse about divorce until you learn how to communicate in a way that will help reduce conflict, create a foundation for negotiation, and how to negotiate effectively.
- Best not go to an attorney until you are informed and prepared—unless, that is, you face an emergency. Read What’s an emergency? Before you visit an attorney, you want to have already organized your facts and documents and know what kind of attorney you want to choose, what questions you want to ask, and what you can and cannot expect from an attorney. To learn about various types of attorneys and other professional divorce services, read my free article Who Can I Call?
In addition to the common solutions covered above, here are tools to help you complete an easy case and make sure it stays easy.
- Keeping easy cases easy. Most cases are delicate and easily stirred up. To learn how to keep an easy case from blowing up into a difficult one, I recommend that each spouse have a copy of Make Any Divorce Better and follow specific steps to calm conflict and negotiate effectively.
- Spouse on board? It’s very difficult to divide major assets or arrange parenting without your spouse’s participation, so your goal is to settle things in a written settlement agreement. The sample agreements that come with How to Do Your Own Divorce and Make Any Divorce Better are fine for simple cases but not ideal for dealing with major debts or assets like real estate, pension or investment funds, or complex situation. This is where DealMaker software is ideal. It is useful for dealing with the most common options for real estate or retirement funds and, if you have minor children, it guides you in the creation of a comprehensive parenting plan. DealMaker asks you to enter your information, make some decisions, then it writes a professional settlement agreement that you can sign as-is or edit with any word processor.
- With an easy case, you can do the paperwork yourself, or you can get it done inexpensively. In California you can do it with my How To Do Your Own Divorce book. In other states read my article: How to Do Your Own Divorce. To find someone to help you do your paperwork, read my free article Who Can I Call?