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Considering A Divorce? Read These 4 Pieces Of Advice Before You Head To The Attorney's Office

Marriage is a wonderful thing -- right until it's not. When a marriage falls apart, you need as much guidance as you can get on how to proceed, and it can be hard to keep everything in perspective. 

Here's a list of the most important pieces of advice that you should probably know -- before you get to a lawyer. By the time you walk through your attorney's office door, it may be too late to put some of these in action.

1. Gather as many documents as possible.

A lot of any divorce is financial -- so you need to be prepared with documentation of everything from your spouse's income and investments to copies of credit card statements. Start a file and keep a backup copy somewhere your spouse can't access it.

2. Find out the value of everything you own.

The only way you can get your fair share of the household assets is to know what they're worth. Find out how much you have in the bank, in stock, in bonds, and in retirement accounts. Take stock of artwork, collectibles, watches, and jewelry. If something valuable hasn't been appraised, get it done soon. The more research you do on your own, the quicker you'll sail through the process with your attorney -- and that will save you money.

3. Consider finding a therapist.

You need a place to vent all your frustrations and sort out your emotions -- and Facebook definitely isn't the place to do it. These days, divorce attorneys routinely look on social media to see what their client's spouses are saying -- and the wrong thing could damage your credibility in court if you have a custody battle going on. A therapist gives you a safe place to discuss all the hurt you feel and air your grievances until the divorce is over.

4. Think about the type of attorney you need.

Few people are surprised by their spouse's reactions to the subject of divorce. If you think that your spouse is going to accept the inevitable and work with you to minimize the damage to your lives, look for an attorney who understands collaborative divorces or mediation. If you know that your heading for a fight, look for a divorce attorney that knows how to aggressively litigate. You don't want to make the wrong choice at the beginning because it will cost you both time and money if you have to change attorneys later.

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