After making the difficult decision to get a divorce, the next question that typically comes to mind is, “how do I actually file for divorce?” Getting divorced usually involves the Final Settlement Agreement and the Divorce Decree. Usually, couples will complete the settlement agreement and then attach it to their application for a divorce decree. It is important to understand the purpose of each of these.

The final settlement agreement should include all the decisions that have been made in regards to property, child and spousal support. In order to file for a divorce, an application for a divorce decree needs to be filed. This application, which includes your settlement agreement, is turned in to the courts. If all the paper work is in order, you will be mailed a document similar to a marriage certificate. This document will be the divorce decree, and it means you are officially divorced.

This process sounds straightforward, and for the most part it is. However, things aren’t always black and white. While most cases are simple, emotions can get in the way of that simplicity. It is important to remain focused on the decisions that need to be made with as little emotion as possible.  Most couples will need help with regards to property, child and spousal support (spousal is often the one that causes the most conflict), and there are different ways to resolve these issues.

Both parties can hire independent divorce lawyers and go down the traditional route, including applications, demand notices, affidavits, discoveries, and court appearances.  Another option is to use a mediator. The challenge here is finding a mediator that has knowledge of both the laws and financial issues. It is important to know that no mediator, whether they have a background in law or not, can advise you on the law or your rights. For that, you need to speak with a divorce lawyer who works only for you to get what is called “independent legal advice”. Whether you receive this legal advice throughout the mediation process or towards the end does not really matter. A divorce lawyer who is representing you alone will give you peace of mind with regards to your settlement decisions and also ensure that the decisions that you have made are what are best for your long-term future.