The true answer to both questions is that it is up to you and your spouse. If you both can look at the divorce as a business decision and do your best to take emotions out if the equation, you will be better off as the divorce will go quicker (months verses years) and the cost will be lower (averaging $2,500-$5,500 verses tens of thousands). This is easier said than done in most circumstances as the parties are generally not at the same stage in the process. Here are some suggestions to get you to a point where the divorce has a chance of being finalized with efficiency and be cost effective.
- See a mental health professional to bring both parties to the stage of accepting the divorce;
- Try not to get involved with someone else before or during the divorce proceedings as it only complicates things and increases the emotions involved;
- Make full disclosure to your spouse of all your income, assets, and liabilities;
- Try to discuss an equitable settlement of all issues including but not limited to those matters relating to the children (decision making and parenting time), child support, maintenance, and the division of assets and debts;
- Each party can consult with and retain an attorney unless you want to represent yourself; and
- File the case when the written settlement documents are close to being finalized and signed to avoid multiple court appearances.
If you tried these attempts or if you believe this is something that is not going to be possible with your soon to be ex-spouse, then you should consult with an attorney and get ready for what could be a long and expensive ride. Keep in mind that some attorneys will also be driven to litigate by what their client has told them or what their client wants.