Welcome to FreeDivorce.com.
Christina: This is Christina.
Ed: This is Ed. Today, are going to talk about the need to get educated regarding the law. At this point, we are assuming you have filed your Summons and Petition with the court and served your paperwork on your spouse. We are also assuming the Preliminary Declaration of Disclosure documents have been completed and copies exchanged.
Christina: Now comes the hard part, negotiating a global settlement with your spouse. You and your spouse have to be able to reach an agreement on how to settle all of the issues. You have to be able to agree on how to divide your assets and how to divide your debts. If you have minor children, you will have to agree on a custody arrangement and child support. You will also have to agree on what you are going to do about spousal support. If you can’t reach agreements on all of these issues, it is not going to be an uncontested divorce. It will be a contested divorce.
Ed: What do you need to do before you start settlement discussions with your spouse?
Christina: Before you start any settlement discussions with your spouse, you first need to get educated! You absolutely should not attempt to begin settlement negotiations until you have at least a basic education on the law regarding key topics. How can you negotiate a fair agreement about child support and/or spousal support if you don’t first understand how much child support and spousal support the court will likely award? How can you negotiate a child custody agreement if you don’t first understand the different types of custody orders that exist under the law? How can you divide your property and debts without first having an understanding of community property and separate property laws? How can you divide retirement benefits, including 401(k)s and pensions, if you don’t understand about the special kind of court order known as a QDRO and about the special procedures required by the court to divide retirement benefits? You can’t negotiate any of these types of agreements without first being educated. If you attempt to negotiate a settlement without first getting educated, you are almost certainly going to end up with a poorly drafted settlement agreement and probably lose valuable rights to property and support.
Ed: How do you go about getting educated when it comes to the law:
Christina: You start by watching some or all of the next series of “Getting Educated” videos. In the “Getting Educated videos, we will discuss basic information about key topics you will likely need to understand before you begin to negotiate with your spouse.
Ed: Are the “Getting Educated” videos going to tell me everything I need to know?
Christina: It depends on the types of issues you have in your particular case. The law regarding the division of assets and debts, custody, and support is exceedingly complex. The information we give you in the following “Getting Educated” videos is only a summary of the most important aspects of each topic. We have provided summaries regarding key topics. However, explaining all of the legal complexities regarding the topics set forth in the “Getting Educated” videos is far beyond the scope of our website. It would take thousands of pages of text to fully educate you on the law. Most people are not going to read that much text or watch a video that goes on for hours and hours. So, we are giving you the basics.
Ed: What do I do if I want more detailed information about a particular topic or if I want to know about a topic that is not included in the “Getting Educated” videos?
Christina: If you want to know more about any of the topics we cover or if you want to know about a topic we do not cover, you can go to your local law library. Law libraries are different than regular libraries. They are oftentimes located in the courthouse or near the courthouse. If you go to the law library, ask the librarian to direct you to the family law section. There you will find a number of very good reference books that will explain any legal issue you want to know about.
Ed: Is there a family law book or set of books that are particularly helpful?
Christina: I really like the “California Practice Guide”, Family Law, by the Rutter Group.
Ed: Do I need to watch all of the “Getting Educated” videos before I start to negotiate a settlement agreement with my spouse?
Christina: No. Some of the “Getting Educated” videos won’t apply to your case. If you don’t own family home or you don’t have any retirement assets, you can skip those videos. If you don’t have minor children, you can skip the child custody and child support videos. You can just watch the videos that apply to your situation.