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Everyone loves weddings, but unfortunately, a high number of married couple will eventually seek a divorce. In the United States, the divorce rate for a first marriage hovers at a little above 40%. Not much improves with a second or a third marriage — the divorce rate for a second marriage is 60% and 73% for a third marriage. If you and your spouse are going through a divorce, you might be seeking divorce advice from anywhere and everywhere. It’s a confusing and emotional process and if you’re dealing with a contested divorce, things can get even murkier. You may be wondering whether or not you should retain a divorce lawyer and what questions to ask a divorce lawyer if you look into hiring one. And, you may be wondering how this even came about — is this “normal?” How long will everything take? Let us help answer some basic questions that many people have about divorce.

How Did This Even Happen? Is This Normal?
Every divorce happens for its own specific reasons, but the top five reasons that people seek divorce in the United States are: trouble communicating, infidelity or some other kind of betrayal, financial issues, abuse, and simply put, the spark dying out. Generally, those who get married older, have a higher education background, and are financially stable are less likely to be divorced — but as we all know, “rules” are meant to be broken.

The short answer is that divorce happens to a significant number of people all around the world. You don’t have to feel embarrassed or ashamed of your divorce. On an annual basis, over one million people’s parents get separated or divorce. Many children have divorced parents — in recent years, it’s gone from being shocking to being relatively normal.

Should I Get a Divorce Lawyer and How Do I Find a Good One?
Whether or not to get a divorce lawyer is a huge topic for divorce advice. If you’re going through an uncontested divorce — that is, you and spouse agree that you want to get a divorce and agree on the terms of the divorce — you likely will not need a lawyer. You can easily settle your divorce out of court.

However, if your spouse is abusive and/or you fear reprisal for filing for divorce, if you are going through a contested divorce, or there is a significant amount of money or property at stake, and if you have children, getting a divorce lawyer might be something to seriously consider. These factors all add a layer of complication to the process.

Referrals from family, friends, and colleagues is one good way to make sure you’re getting a top notch lawyer. The person referring you must have had a good experience with them in order to want to refer them in the first place. If you’re starting from scratch, look up local divorce lawyers in your area and start asking for quotes and conducting interviews to see who might be the best fit for you. Check references, their credentials, and cases they’ve worked on.

What Else Do I Need to Know About the Divorce Proceedings?
Another common question those seeking divorce advice ask is how long — and how expensive — the divorce proceedings are. The average length of time of a divorce is about one year, but this can vary on the type of divorce you’re getting and other numerous factors, like whether you need to come to an agreement on alimony, custody, and division of assets.

If you go to trial, your divorce is going to be significantly more expensive — and often, you’ll get less favorable terms — than if you settled outside of court. The average cost of divorce is around $15,000, though again, this number can be influenced by many other factors.

As you seek divorce advice, it’s important to separate the good advice from the bad. You want to have all your facts straight and know what you ultimately want out of this divorce — are you trying to keep things amicable? Are you ultimately seeking child custody? It’s important to decide the answers to these questions right from the get go.

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This is Sandra Rivulet speaking, of freelitigationadvice.com. I was born and raised as a navy brat. We traveled constantly when I was young. College was the first time I settled in one spot for more than two years.

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