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What to do if your divorce becomes contentious?

Many couples start the divorce process hoping that things will remain amicable, but then disputes arise. You and your spouse may have initially agreed to cooperate with one another to keep your divorce simple and as calm as possible. However, emotions have peaked and now the two of you can’t seem to have a calm conversation anymore.

When you have reason to expect a contentious divorce and ongoing disagreements about the major terms for your divorce, what are the right steps to take to protect yourself?

Start talking to a lawyer

Once an amicable, uncontested divorce is off the table, attempting a pro se filing could be a very dangerous choice. An attorney can advise you of your basic rights and state laws relation to property division, child custody and support matters. They can also provide you with crucial guidance as you plan a strategy. More importantly, they can be the source of contact for your ex or their attorney so that future negotiations don’t end up derailed by emotion.

Make sure you have the necessary records

Even usually respectful and law-abiding people can do vicious and surprisingly underhanded things when facing a divorce. You will have a harder time securing an equitable division of your property when you don’t have accurate household records.

The sooner you secure your own copies of household financial records, the less likely it is that you have to worry about your spouse altering or destroying records to manipulate the property division process.

Communicate calmly and in writing

If you have to have direct communication with your ex, possibly because you share children, keeping that communication as calm as possible is very important. Having your attorney manage what communication they can help you limit conflict. Choosing to communicate in a parenting app will remind both of you to be on your best behavior and will prevent emotional responses from complicating your divorce matters in the future.

You and your ex may still be candidates for a collaborative divorce if your lawyers can work with one another or even for mediation. Taking the right steps when your divorce becomes contentious will help you move forward with your life with minimal hardship.