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When Is the Best Time to File for Divorce?

When a marriage goes bad, there may not be a whole lot of time for planning the divorce. In some cases, it's better to make a clean break quickly, and in other cases couples may have the time and patience to take things slowly.

Every relationship is different and there's no one way to go through a divorce, but there are some considerations worth keeping in mind when you're look for the best time to file divorce papers.

Child Custody and Support

This is the big issue that keeps parents together long after they've thought about getting divorced. Parents are worried about the effect the divorce will have on their children, and rightly so -- there are valid arguments to be made on both sides of the wait/don't wait debate. If you choose not to put off the divorce, there are better and worse ways of handling it, legally speaking, and you can even get some parenting and divorce tips from the folks "Sesame Street."

While we can't say whether delaying divorce will be better for your children, you may have fewer legal issues to sort out later. Child custody (along with child support) can be one of the most contentious and bitterly argued aspects of a divorce, and it's a battle you may not have to fight if you wait until your children are older or adults.

Summary Dissolution and Legal Separation

Delaying a divorce could also create other legal hurdles. Couples who've been married fewer than five years and have no children, no shared real estate, and limited community property and debt can file for a summary dissolution. Dissolution has the same legal effect as divorce, but less paperwork and fewer court appearances. But the longer you wait to file for summary dissolution, the less likely you are to qualify.

On the other hand, you could file for legal separation, which can either be a permanent solution or buy some time until filing for a full divorce. A legal separation can sort out issues like child custody and property division while maintaining the legal status of the marriage.

Deciding when to file for divorce is a very personal decision, with some legal considerations to keep in mind. To find out when the best time to file is for you, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney in your area.

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