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Divorce is generally not an option couples consider when first getting married. If you are thinking about it now, below are a few topics to start considering.  

Residency Rules

Check the residency rules of your state and/or local municipality before you file for a divorce. There are some states that require a year or more of residency before you can file for a divorce. Some states are much more lenient.

The Grounds

Some states require “grounds” for your divorce, although most states (including New York and New Jersey), now allow “no-fault” divorce. “Grounds” are reasons for why you are getting divorced. Fault-based grounds include desertion, cruelty, and adultery. Non-fault reasons have to do with couples not getting along, or having irreconcilable differences. Giving fault-based reasons make the situation more tense and complicated. Non-fault based reasons make the experience simpler and less painful.

Custody and Child Support

Child custody is another aspect that you should think about before you file for divorce. There are two elements of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child primarily resides.  Legal custody is how major decisions for the child are made. When physical custody is joint, both parents spend significant time with the child. When legal custody is joint, the parents work together to make decisions for the child. With sole legal and physical custody, one parent spends most of the time with the child, and makes decisions for him or her.  Physical custody has implications for child support that should be understood when making decisions.

Alimony

Alimony is when one spouse gives money to the other spouse when there is a disparity in income so that he or she can become financially self-sufficient.  Courts consider many factors when determining the amount and term of alimony, and each state has its own rules. In many states, there is a trend away from life long alimony.

Mediation 

Mediation is an alternative to litigation for resolving your divorce.  It is a voluntary, cooperative approach, that is less expensive and within the parties’ control.  In divorce mediation, you and your spouse hire a neutral third party, i.e., the mediator, who facilitates the discussion and helps you and your spouse figure out what’s best.  Mediation is an excellent alternative, especially when parents have many years ahead of co-parenting and raising children.