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January Often Leads to an Increase in Divorce Filings

After the stress of the holidays, many people file for divorce as the new year comes around.

It is cliché but true—divorce attorneys’ caseloads increase when January rolls around.  Maybe the holidays put undue stress on marriages.  Maybe couples who struggled throughout the fall (or longer) wait for the holiday season to pass before officially separating.  Maybe people just want a new start in the New Year.  Whatever the reason, any family law attorney will tell you that the phones start ringing more after the holidays.

We have written previously about points to consider upon separation.  Check out that post for some basic procedural and legal explanations of the first steps in a divorce action.  Here, we offer some practical tips on what you should do if you or your spouse has decided to proceed with a divorce to start off 2014.

1.  “When should I call an attorney?”  If you are the one initiating the split, you should call as soon as you begin thinking about separation and divorce.  We can answer questions about things that you should and should not do before filing.  If your spouse has filed for divorce, you should contact us as soon as you are served with the divorce complaint.

2.  “What should I bring to the first meeting?”  In most cases, the initial client consult is a basic exchange of information between the client and the attorney.  If you have already been served with a divorce complaint, you should bring the complaint with you.  Eventually, we will need to review copies of your tax returns and asset statements; however, most people are not prepared to bring these to the first meeting, and that is fine.

3.  “What is this going to cost?”  The answer to this question will depend upon the facts of your case, and there is no blanket response.  At your first meeting, we will assess the complexity of your case and give you an idea of what you can expect.  We will explain our retainer and billing practices and discuss a fee arrangement that will work for you.

4.  “What should I do before our meeting?”    First, begin to document your activities.  Keep track of your expenses.  Keep track of the time that your spouse spends with your children.  Pay attention to your accounts, especially the ones with joint access.   Second, make sure that your social media accounts are private.  You need to make sure that your FacebookTwitter, and Instagram posts and photos are unlikely to be used against you in the future.

5.  “What should we do with the kids?”  Assuming that there is no history of abuse in your relationship, it is ill-advised to prevent your spouse from seeing your children.  The divorce process, while fraught, is temporary; but the reality is that you and your soon-to-be-ex will have some sort of relationship for the rest of your lives.  To the extent  possible, try to work out some sort of visitation schedule.  In child custody cases, courts do not look favorably upon spouses who put the kids in the middle of their parents’ problems.

Whether you need a family law attorney in Harrisburg, Hershey, Mechanicsburg, or elsewhere in Central Pennsylvania, contact Attorney Jessica Smith or Attorney Alexis Miloszewski at (717) 883-5671 or to schedule a consultation.

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