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The most important first step before you divorce

The first step of many divorcing spouses is a step right out the front door of their homes. However, before you discuss getting a divorce with your spouse -- and especially before you start packing up your things -- you should consider contacting a reputable family law attorney to discuss your divorce process.

Rather than going to a divorce paralegal or trying to figure out how to download an online divorce form, go to a lawyer and determine how to protect your legal rights and options.

Why you should speak with a lawyer

You need to speak with a real, live California family law attorney because this is the individual who can help you understand your legal rights and options and protect your legal rights during your divorce proceedings. Do not be tempted to contact a friend of the family who is also a lawyer. It's vital that you speak to an actual family law attorney in California who has training and experience with regard to the nuances of state divorce law.

Even spouses who want to go their separate ways as "friends" need to stay realistic with regard to their legal proceedings. When it comes to money, property division and child custody, the best of friends could fall into heated disagreement -- which is why you need a legal advocate who is ready to defend your rights.

Although some spouses can finalize their divorce proceedings quickly and cost-effectively, there is always the chance of a months-long -- and in rare cases, years-long -- financial or child custody battle. Representation from a family law attorney will ensure that you receive fair treatment and are not left holding the short end of the stick when it comes to your divorce proceedings.

A lawyer can help you decide if it's time

If you're on the fence about your divorce, and you're simply debating the idea of separating from your spouse in the private recess of your mind, a lawyer can help you decide if it's time by ensuring you have a realistic and clear picture of what the process entails. A lawyer will help you understand about your property and child custody rights, for example, so you can better understand what your post-divorce life is going to look like.

Your attorney will also inform you regarding the potential cost of the legal proceedings. This and other information will help you know where you'll land so you're not taking a blind leap into single life.

If this article resonates with you because you're thinking about pulling the trigger on your divorce in California, seek an experienced family law counselor now.

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