A divorce is a major change in your life, and it can affect everything from how you manage your schedule to who you call if your car breaks down. Many people don’t consider all the little changes that a divorce might cause, which can increase stress during and after divorce as you seek to move forward with life. One thing you can do to help smooth the way and decrease stress is work with the right professionals across multiple areas of your life.
From various types of lawyers to lawn-care pros or babysitters, this comprehensive list looks at when it’s a good idea to seek professional assistance and provides some tips for doing so before, after and during divorce.
Lawyers: Family Law and Otherwise
Divorce is a legal process, but you don’t always need a family law attorney to get you through the dissolution of marriage. In fact, if you’re able to go through an amicable divorce, then you can divorce without an attorney, via an online divorce (read more about online divorce). The education and online resourced at It’s Over Easy are designed by experienced divorce law attorney Laura Wasser, and they’re made to create a seamless, helpful process you can complete virtually anywhere.
Family Law Attorney
While an online divorce is a great option in uncontested cases — especially if you feel you and your spouse have a good chance of agreeing on all the most important issues — it’s not always the right choice. Filing for a divorce online lets you get through the process in the comfort of your own home — or any other location — without going to court or paying a lawyer. However, if you’re dealing with excessively complex issues, feel threatened at all by your spouse or can’t come to an agreement on matters, you might need to seek the help of a family law attorney. The good news is that It’s Over Easy makes it simple to move your online divorce to a lawyer if you decide to do so: You can export everything you’ve already done in the system, so none of your time was wasted.
If you go this route, choose a family law attorney who:
- Is not representing your spouse
- Has not previously represented both you and your spouse together in any matter
- Has a good reputation
- Is experienced in family law matters
- Is familiar with the local court systems
- Regularly practices family law now
Estate or Tax Attorney
Divorce lawyers aren’t the only legal pros you might need to work with before, during or after a divorce. Even if you’re using online tools to file for divorce yourself, it might be a good idea to seek advice about related matters from an estate lawyer or tax attorney. While these professionals are not included and provided by It's Over Easy, we've curated a directory that is accessible to you throughout the process.
An estate lawyer can help you create a new will, ensure power of attorney designations are updated or create a health care proxy form designating someone to make decisions for you if you’re ever incapacitated. These are all things you might have done in the past, naming your spouse as beneficiary or power of attorney; it’s a good idea as you face or go through a divorce to reconsider who you want in such roles. While you can also handle many of those matters yourself, one thing you want to work with a pro on is the creation of a trust. A trust is one way you can ensure your children are provided for if something happens to you, and even if they live with your ex at such a time, you can have someone else oversee any money you leave for them.
Most people don’t require a tax attorney when they go through a divorce. However, if you find that you might owe more taxes than you think you can pay — or if action on the part of your spouse has left you with a significant and previously unknown tax problem — you should consult a professional about your options.
Choose an estate or tax attorney who:
- Has a good reputation
- Is experienced in the appropriate niche
- Is familiar with the local and state court systems
- Regularly practices estate or tax law
CPAs and Other Financial Professionals
Not everyone needs a finance professional during a divorce, but it’s always a good idea to get your money matters in some order before or as soon after a divorce as possible. At the very least, it’s critical to go through the divorce process with a clear understanding of your finances, especially if you’re filing for divorce online yourself.
If filing for your online divorce on It's Over Easy, you will start by gathering all the documents you can about your finances and trying to separate your individual income and expenses from “couple” income and expenses. The interactive Have/Owe and Make/Spend features of our system will help you to understand what money you’ll have to work with after the divorce and what obligations you’ll have to cover. This knowledge helps you make better decisions about support needs and plan for a more stable financial future. If you’re overwhelmed, you can start with the forms and tools at It’s Over Easy. We have support calculators based on state law, which help you go beyond best guesses to get numbers regarding potential support.
If you have a complex financial situation, such as owning your own business, you might want to talk to a Certified Public Accountant, or CPA, about the best steps to take given any money changes that might occur during your divorce. An experienced CPA can provide guidance about how to protect both your business and personal finances.
After divorce, it’s time to start anew, and one of the best ways to do that is to get healthier financially. You might consider speaking with an investment broker or financial adviser about how to begin wealth building for yourself and any dependents.
Choose financial professionals who:
- Are certified in their niche
- Have a good reputation
- Have never been in legal trouble, particularly regarding financial regulations
- Have a proven track record — when dealing with investment professionals, ask for portfolio examples and proof of success
Counselors or Therapist
One of the reasons Laura Wasser started It’s Over Easy is because she felt that no one should go through divorce alone. Even if you’re considering a filing for a divorce online, having the right support system in place and relying on experienced guidance and easy-to-use calculators and templates makes a big difference. For some families, additional support in the form of therapy or counseling can also help a great deal.
Many people avoid seeking professional assistance in this area because they believe it makes them seem weak or broken — they think they can handle it all on their own. In reality, therapy during a divorce might help you maintain your strength. It gives you an unrelated third party who you can open up to without worrying about the impact on your family or social situation. The ability to talk out your fears, frustrations, and problems in a confidential and supportive place can also help you make better decisions about the divorce since you might be less apt to react with only emotion. Counseling can be a boon to someone who is going through an online divorce.
Even if you don’t think therapy is for you, you might consider whether your children would benefit from talking to someone. Even during an amicable divorce, children can be confused, feel something was their fault or be sad or depressed about the sudden change in their lives. Kids won’t always talk right away to parents who are divorcing, especially if they’re angry with you regarding the situation. Providing them with a safe outlet can help them get through the divorce easier and understand that life will still go on and that they can continue to enjoy it.
Choose a therapist who:
- Is board certified
- Has experience in family therapy (consider choosing someone who works extensively with children when looking for a child counselor)
- Has a good reputation (consider asking close friends, family or your medical provider/pediatrician for recommendations)
A mediator is someone who is trained to work with both sides to help them come to an agreement. In divorce cases, mediators can help couples come to terms on matters such as child support, visitation schedules, alimony or property division without going through court. Often, the mediator is a lawyer with experience in family law matters, though they don’t act as an attorney for either party when providing mediation services.
Mediation can be a great option if you’ve come to a standstill in your online divorce process because you just can’t agree on something. If you’re still willing to work together on the divorce but can’t see a way past your disagreement, reaching out to a mediator can often help you build the bridge that gets your divorce moving again. It also lets you work with a third party on a resolution without creating the public record that would be associated with any court filings. While there are some rules for mediation, they are relatively basic and much less stringent than the regulations courts must follow when making decisions. Going through mediation lets you remain in control of the final decision and keeps you in control of your divorce.
It’s Over Easy understands that even the most civil divorces can run into obstacles. That’s why we make it easy for you to contact a mediator and invite them to join you and your spouse directly inside the platform.
If you decide on mediation, choose a professional who:
- Has a background in mediation and family law
- Isn’t representing either you or your spouse on any matter
- Has a reputation for being fair and balanced
Babysitters or Childcare Providers
As any parent knows, a good babysitter is invaluable before and during divorce. You might not be shuffling off to meet attorneys or attend court dates, but with the right help, you can get through the divorce process even faster. A babysitter can keep the kids engaged and happy as you review paperwork, take some quiet time It’s understandable that you might want to devote extra attention to your children before and during divorce, but carving out a little time for yourself can help to reduce stress. Babysitters are also good to have after a divorce; eventually, you might want to explore social options or even date again. Having a regular sitter your children know helps them face the changes that are happening in their lives.
Choose a sitter who:
- You already know, if at all possible
- Is supported by recommendations
- Has appropriate training or certifications, such as child CPR
After the divorce, childcare may be a new consideration for you. If you or your spouse stayed home with the kids previously, that might no longer be possible. To support two separate households, you might both need to work. When looking for a childcare provider, take your time and don’t plan based on emotions. Ask to tour local provider facilities, and talk to friends about recommendations. Choose a facility where you believe your child will be cared for and safe.
Choose childcare facilities that:
- Are certified
- Support transparent relationships with parents
- Let you tour their space
- Provide a comfortable, safe and educational space for your child
Real Estate Agents
In the event, you and your spouse decide to sell your existing home — or you are ready to lease or buy a new home during or after your divorce — you might want to rely on a good real estate agent.
When choosing a real estate agent, look for:
- Seasoned pros who can take your needs and desires for a home and put them into action
- Agents familiar with your area
- Someone who is willing to meet at times that fit your schedule
Speaking of new homes, at some point before, during or after your divorce, one or both of you is probably going to need to move. Once you’ve gone through the process of divvying up your stuff, professional movers make it easy to get said stuff into a new location. Because you might be leaning on friends and family for other support, movers can be an easy way to give everyone a break from another job.
Choose a moving company who:
- Has clean, professional staff
- Provides its own fleet of moving trucks in good working condition
- Are affordable for the move you’re making — some companies charge more for additional boxes or miles
- Have good reviews online
Other Professionals for Your New Life
Other types of professionals you might want to touch base with as you create a new life and move into a new home after divorce can include lawn care providers, cleaning services and mechanics, as well as appliance repair, pest control, and insurance agents. It’s fine to use providers you used as a couple when it comes to these types of services, but you might find yourself in need of services you didn't need when you were married. As a couple, it’s easier to manage work/life balance and still get the lawn mowed regularly, for example. Once you're single, that balance is harder to maintain, especially if you have children.
Some situations in which you might want to seek brand-new service providers include:
- When the service provider is related to or close friends with your spouse, and you think the past relationship will color the new professional relationship
- You weren’t happy with the service provider during your marriage, and it was your spouse’s decision to keep the relationship (now that you’re single, you make those decisions for yourself)
- You can’t afford the service provider, or the type of services are no longer relevant to your situation
Moving on With a Little Help from Friends — and Others
Does everyone need all these pros to help them get through divorce and manage life on the other side? No, of course not. You may find you don’t require assistance from any of these service providers. However, it’s important to know that help can come from all types of places, and when you’re going through a divorce, there’s nothing wrong with understanding all your options.
Don’t be afraid to build a strong support structure with family and friends, and when you can, consider delegating some things to pros who can get the job done quickly and take some stress away from you.
If you’re in the divorce consideration stage and you think you and your spouse can still collaborate, consider filing for an online divorce with It's Over Easy. Click here to start for free and pay when you file.