When I was a young divorce attorney, I represented the husband of a TV star. One day, the TV star’s attorney called me to tell me that the TV star was upset that my client’s new girlfriend gave the parties’ seven-year-old daughter a doll.

So, I called my client. And I swear to you, I actually had to ask this question: “Did your girlfriend make a voodoo doll of your wife and give it to your daughter?”

I must have been absent on the day of law school where they prepared you to ask things like that.

Most divorce related questions don’t involve Voodoo, or anything else ridiculous. Actually, the most common question I get is “What should I know before I start my divorce?”

What I tell each of my clients is this: “as long as you ask ‘The One Question,’ you’ll always have a roadmap of what needs to be resolved in your divorce case.” That one question: Do you have children under the age of 18 with your spouse?

If the answer is yes, there will be five issues in your divorce:

  1. Custody – making big decisions for kids like where they go to school and who their doctor will be,
  2. Visitation – the logistics of where your kids are and when,
  3. Child Support – money to support the children’s lives and activities,
  4. Alimony – money to support a lower earning spouse, and
  5. Property Division – splitting up the assets and debts between the spouses.

If the answer is no, there will be two issues in your divorce:

  1. Alimony
  2. Property Division.

If you ever find yourself talking with a friend who is stressed about her divorce, feel free to teach her how to identify how many issues she’ll need to resolve to get divorced. Hopefully it will help her focus on what needs to get done so she can move on as quickly and cheaply as possible. But, if that approach doesn’t work to make her feel better, send her my way and I can introduce her to a lady who can make her a voodoo doll of her ex.

Andrew G. Vaughn is the founder of NuVorce, a professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, a husband, a father of two and was once hospitalized by a chicken. Questions, divorce stories, hate mail? Send HERE