Divorce Road Signs
1. We have a LEGAL system, not a JUSTICE system.
No one knows what will happen in court except that no one wins.
2. Do not hire the first lawyer you meet.
Interview more than one lawyer to compare philosophies.
3. Divorce is more than a full-time job; it is ALL consuming.
Do not underestimate the amount of work required; don’t be fooled into thinking that your lawyer will take care of everything. Pace yourself.
4. Do not be a passive participant in your own divorce.
This is your family, your business contract. Educate yourself, take the time to ask questions, understand your finances, develop a budget, so that you can make informed decisions that you can live with.
5. Be very selective about the voices in your ear.
Emotional support is one thing, but stay focused on a constructive process, not a destructive one because of what your friends and family think about your soon-to-be Ex or tell you that you should do.
6. Do not expect your spouse to make-up or “pay” for emotional pain.
Punitive damages for emotional stress do not exist in family law; emotions are expensive. Focus on a settlement and an exit rather than spending resources on illusory pay-back or punishment.
7. You know your spouse better than anyone; trust your intuition.
No one knows your spouse better than you do; don’t allow the professionals to dismiss any legitimate concerns you may have. Be the architect of a process that can be successful for both you and your spouse.
7. Lawyers are capable of escalating adversity with the simple stroke of their pen.
Some lawyers use a writing style in communication with opposing counsel that is rude and condescending to the other spouse. This is not a requirement of the process. Escalated conflict means greater cost and rarely does it lead to a more generous settlement. Not all lawyers are created equal, so while there are family law attorneys who are complicit in needlessly escalating adversity and churning fees, there are many reasonable, ethical, strategic, and solution-oriented attorneys. It is worth taking the time to find them. Do your research.
9. Temporary Insanity
The overload of emotional triggers is so profound that there isn’t one spouse who doesn’t utter, at one point or another, “I don’t recognize my spouse, this isn’t the person I married” (and if they are really honest with themselves, “I don’t recognize myself”) Try to step back and allow some space for temporary insanity. It is just temporary.
10. Respond, do not react, to inflammatory email, voice mail or calls.
Allow space for reaction. Don’t be fooled into engaging with the bully. The process tests everyone but will ultimately reach resolution.
11. If you are married to “crazy,” all bets are off.
We do not have a system that is capable of protecting spouses from personality disorders that affect another spouse’s ability to compromise or participate in a rational process. Be aware, do your research and consider alternate expectations of an outcome that at least provide an out and an end.
We hope this will help you to navigate the divorce process and to avoid the common pitfalls of divorce.
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