Lansing, MI- If you’ve decided to get a divorce or your spouse has, your mind is reeling with emotions and confusion. This is a tumultuous time but it is also a time to consider the steps you need to take to ensure that your divorce runs smoothly and you can transition to your new life with as little drama as possible.

Separate from Your Spouse

If you happen to live in one of the many states that offer a no-fault divorce you won’t have to wait a month to several before you file for divorce. You still have to decide whether you and your spouse will share the same living arrangements while you wait for your divorce to be finalized. A couple does not have to live separately during the divorce process, but many couples choose to live apart. Most divorces are precipitated by a separation period.

You don’t have to file for legal separation, living apart is generally sufficient enough to prove you are separated. On the other hand, you and your spouse don’t have to live apart, but you will have to keep your lives separate, meaning you do not share meals, the same bedroom or have sexual relations and your lives must be independent of each other. After waiting the prescribed period of time, which can range between and month to two years depending on the state in which you live, you can then file for divorce.

Remain Single

This is a common question couples ask and the answer is not a simple one to answer. Some believe that a couple who is separated and living apart should be able to move on with their life and date other people or start a new relationship especially if they have already left their spouse. But starting a new relationship, regardless of when it began, before you are legally divorced can jeopardize your case in divorce proceedings.

Hire a Divorce Attorney

Many couples think: Why do I need a divorce attorney? The fact is some don’t need an attorney if they haven’t been married that long and their finances are not deeply intertwined or they don’t have children. But most couples have to unravel their entire lives that includes their finances living arrangements and child custody agreements. While a quickie divorce may seem appealing, an estranged spouse could shortchange themselves by not getting legal advice. A divorce attorney is there to safeguard your rights and assure a final divorce settlement reflects your needs and desires.

Discuss Child Custody Arrangements

If you have children, you and your spouse should discuss child custody arrangements. You need to determine: Who will get primary custody? Who will pay child support? What about visitation? Which holidays will a child spend with each parent?

Child custody is one of the primary sources of contention in a divorce so a resolution to a custody dispute can be nearly impossible reach without the advice of a divorce attorney. This issue can take months to resolve so discussing child custody ahead of time will make you and your spouse aware of what the other one expects and wants can make negotiations easier in the long run.

Get Your Financial Paperwork in Order

Finances, like child custody, can add to the contention of a divorce but before this matter can be settled your divorce attorney must understand your finances which  includes your earnings, assets, debt, deeds and insurance paperwork. You need to provide your divorce attorney will all this information to help them determine what you are entitled to and how much, if any, spousal or child support you need