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Unofficial Guide to Getting a Divorce, 2nd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-7645-9765-7
432 pages
April 2005
Unofficial Guide to Getting a Divorce, 2nd Edition (0764597655) cover image


The inside scoop... for when you want more than the official line!

Sad. Mad. Scared. Stressed. Distraught. Distracted. Overwhelmed. Divorce dredges up so many emotions and entails so many financial and legal issues, it's difficult to stay rational and keep your life on track. This savvy, updated guide empowers you to take constructive steps toward a better future. It leads you through preparing for divorce, the process, legal issues, coping, sticky situations, and post-divorce financial and health-care issues. It tells you things attorneys and other advisors may not, and gives unbiased recommendations for negotiating the tricky issues of divorce while keeping your sanity.
* Vital Information to help you protect your interests in a divorce or in dealings with your future ex, attorneys, financial advisors, and more.
* Insider Secrets for moving from "I do" to "I don't" with harmony, intelligence, and grace.
* Money-Saving Techniques to reduce legal fees and court costs.
* Time-Saving Tips to help you resolve your divorce without going to court.
* The Scoop on the Latest Trends and precedents in spousal and child support, pre-nups, and more to help you set realistic expectations.
* Handy Checklists to help you do everything from setting priorities to telling the children to dividing property
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Table of Contents

About the Authors xi

Introduction xiii

What’s in This Book? xiv

How This Book Is Different xvi

How to Use This Book xvii

How to Be a Savvy Consumer xviii

How to Keep Your Sanity During the Process xx

Special Features xxi

I Smart Preparation for Divorce 1

1 Is This Really the End of the Marriage? 3

Deciding to decide 4

There are options to divorce 5

Marital counseling 5

Separation 11

Is this the end? 16

Changing your mind 19

Looking ahead 21

Just the facts 21

2 Setting Up a Successful Divorce: The First Steps 23

You have to start somewhere 24

Breaking the news 27

The elements of a successful divorce 41

Just the facts 45

3 Making the Best of It 47

You may not need a lawyer 48

Checklist for an amicable divorce 52

Professional assistance other than lawyers 55

What are your ultimate goals? 56

Just the facts 57

II When War Seems Imminent 59

4 Before You See an Attorney 61

What’s a lawyer for? 62

Safety first 63

The importance of keeping records 66

Cover your assets 69

Stopping short of court 75

Just the facts 81

5 Choosing Your Lawyer 83

What does the lawyer do? 84

How to recognize a top-notch attorney 87

How to work with your lawyer 92

How much will I pay? 94

Interviewing prospective counsel 106

Moving on 108

Just the facts 108

III Welcome to the U.S. Court System 111

6 Filing for Divorce 113

The paper trail.113

Does it matter who files first? 114

Grounds for divorce 117

“Service” and other legal particulars 122

How long will it take? 135

Privacy issues 137

Just the facts 138

7 The Discovery Process 139

The need for basic information 140

Interrogatories 144

Depositions 149

Hand it over: document productions and subpoenas 152

Getting an expert’s opinion 154

The discovery schedule 156

Just the facts 158

8 The Final Steps Toward Resolution 159

Moving forward 159

Going to trial 167

Susan’s tips for a successful day in court 172

Settling out of court 175

The power of your final resolution 177

Changing times 179

It isn’t quite over yet 180

Just the facts 181

IV Big Issues You Can’t Escape 183

9 Family Values 185

Custody and visitation 186

Economic interests 191

Determining the value of assets 200

Dividing liabilities 206

Just the facts 207

10 The Children’s Hour 209

Custody arrangements 209

Custody complexities 216

Child support 221

Just the facts 230

11 What Will I Live On? 231

What is alimony? 231

Taxes and other considerations 241

Looking toward a new day 245

Just the facts 246

V The Aftermath: Coping Well 247

12 Surviving the Ordeal 249

Change and continuity 250

Recognizing and handling stress 259

Managing your career 261

Happy holidays? 263

Just the facts 264

13 We All Need Help Sometimes 265

Dealing with your emotions 265

Accepting emotional support 274

Staying functional 278

Just the facts 280

VI Surviving Sticky Situations 281

14 Spouse and Family Discord 283

Conflict resolution 283

Domestic violence and abuse 285

Stalking 289

Extended-family discord 292

Just the facts 296

15 Special Circumstances 299

Divorcing your business partner 299

Long-distance support battles 301

Prenuptial agreements 305

Dissension in the ranks: problems with your attorney 308

Just the facts 316

16 Considerations Beyond the Horizon 317

And what of the in-laws? 317

New relationships, perhaps remarriage 319

The stepfamily 320

Be there for very special events 322

On death and dying 324

Just the facts 328

Part VII Post-Divorce Money and Health Issues 329

17 Mastering Your Finances 331

Transferring assets 332

You are now a single taxpayer 334

Investments made easy (sort of) 336

How much insurance do you need? 338

A word on wills 341

Just the facts 344

18 Who’ll Pay the Doctor Bills? 345

Understanding COBRA 346

What about the kids? 347

Shopping for health insurance 348

Miscellaneous and sundry ways to save money on health bills 349

Just the facts 351

A Glossary 353

B Resource Guide 359

Divorce attorneys 359

Mediation specialists 359

General information about divorce laws 360

Custody issues 360

Child support issues 361

Financial planners 361

Financial advice for beginners 362

Financial advice for the more experienced investor 362

Miscellaneous 362

The authors 363

C Recommended Reading List 365

Bankruptcy 365

Children 365

Custody 365

Economizing 365

Investing (for beginners) 366

Investing (for beyond beginners) 366

Money management 366

Settlement negotiations 367

Taxes 367

D Important Checklists 369

Preparing to see your attorney 369

Discovery documents 372

Legal checklist 375

Financial assistance checklist.376

Counseling checklist 378

Documents checklist 378

E Assembling Your Divorce Team 381

Questions to ask your attorney 381

Questions to ask your therapist 385

Russell’s suggestions for hiring a financial planner/money manager 386

Index 389

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Author Information

RUSSELL WILD, MBA, financial planner, and SUSAN ELLIS WILD, JD, litigation attorney, have the professional and personal expertise to write this book. Married for 22 years and the parents of two children, they are now amicably divorced. Russell is the principal of Global Portfolios, a fee-only financial planning firm in Allentown, Pennsylvania. He has also authored or co-authored nearly two dozen nonfiction books, writes regularly about financial issues for national consumer magazines as well as financial trade journals, and has appeared on Oprah, The View, and other popular programs. Susan is an honors graduate of George Washington University Law School and has practiced law for 24 years. She has frequently been appointed by the courts to serve as an independent arbitrator/mediator of cases.
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