Every year in the United States over a million couples divorced. Luckily, divorce is not often something people do twice. If you are one of the millions working through a divorce this year, it’s likely you have found yourself pitted against a soon to be ex that you once thought was your greatest ally in life. You’re going to need to pick up some tricks of the 50 billion dollar a year “divorce trade.”
Tricks and Tips of Divorce
Divorce is an emotional process. But it can also be a financial one, involving lawyers, division of marital property, and deciding on alimony and child support. Those that have gone through the process before know how difficult it can be. Here’s some “insider information” when it comes to the “divorce stock exchange.”
No two divorces are alike.That means your best friend’s divorce will not be like yours. Because of this, it can be hard to get a full picture on what divorce is. Your attorney will focus on the legal issues (as they should). Your therapist will focus on the emotional issues (as they should). While both of these professionals will be able to dive into their specific roles, they will not be able to switch places. So lawyers might not see underlying motivations of your ex. And your therapist will not be able to help you decide to settle the complex financial regulations of dividing up property. Your family and friends, are also not your therapist or your attorney. What they can offer is support, but be wary of taking any advice. You can consult the internet, wade through hours of self-help books, or meetings, but there is no “one stop shop” when it comes to your divorce.
That means you’re going to have to come up with a team of specialists. According to Gary Schreiner, JD, who has worked as an attorney, parenting coordinator, case assessor, court mediator and divorce coach, “knowing your options can mean the difference between needing a bandage or a surgeon to heal your divorce wound.” As you assemble your team of trusted advisers, take heart in knowing, according to Gary that, “Mediation, collaborative law, family dispute resolution centers, unbundled legal services, parenting coordination, self-representation workshops and more are spreading every day.”
Consider a Lawyer
“Many clients come in with preconceived notions of what they want to achieve and often these desires are driven by emotional, rather than practical, considerations. In fact, each state has well established precedents on domestic relations law. A knowledgeable lawyer can explain the realities so that you can set your expectations and work towards achieving a reasonable result.”
Work with a divorce attorney, or not, it’s your choice. A skilled divorce attorney will be able to advise you on what steps to take, or even just ensure that you’ve filled out your own paperwork correctly. Even a simple consultation can provide you with information you might not have learned elsewhere.
If you’re able to, make plans before you actually file your divorce. According to divorce attorney Ryan Albaugh, clients often plan their divorces for months prior to their spouse learning about it. Ryan often finds that clients will want to put him on an advance retainer in order to have someone to consult with on strategy. These are the questions he commonly consults on:
1) How length of the marriage affects alimony,
2) How changes in employment affect alimony and child support,
3) How the child visitation schedule will be arranged,
4) How should large asset sales should be handled,
5) How to deal with acquiring additional debt with a soon to be ex-spouse,
6) How to protect an imminent inheritance from a soon to be ex-spouse.
Stay Up Front
No agreements should be made without your knowledge. That means your divorce attorney cannot agree to anything without your agreeing first.According to divorce attorney Janet Bezler,, “your attorney should share every detail of your case with you.” Remember, “your attorney is your employee and s/he has an obligation to answer questions and ensure that you are thoroughly informed so that you can make educated decisions about your case.” But that means you have to let your lawyer in on everything. That includes the things you’re embarrassed about.
Know What’s in Your Wallet
According to divorce lawyer Tim Hoch, before you even begin your divorce, get a solid view of your finances and create an inventory of your bank accounts, retirement accounts, and credit cards. Even if you are already the spouse that manages the money, you need to ask: (1) what would I do if my checking account and credit cards had to be closed tomorrow?, and (2) how will I pay for essentials such as health care deductibles and my mortgage? When working with an attorney, set parameters for home much you are able to spend with legal fees.
Focus on a Bright Future
Brian Pearlstein finds “clients often get caught up in the here and now and they forget about the future.” He says “wise lawyers will steer their clients away from today and prepare them for five years down the road.” If you are in the midst of divorce, ask yourself: “What do I need to be successful in my newly single life?” Having clarity when it comes to future goals will help spur you towards making a decision regarding the best course of action. An example: knowing you can actually afford to keep up with your mortgage payments before you go down the track of arguing for it. If not, then maybe selling the house and taking a cut of the proceeds is your best option. But if you’re wrapped up in the emotion of fighting for the house, you might not see how terrible it will be for your bank account if you win the house.
Be the Bigger Person
According to Tim Hoch, divorce makes you either a better person or a bitter person. The good thing is, you get to choose. Resist the urge to be irrational. Chances are, you’re hurt and angry and sad. There are a lot of emotions and they can be hard to keep under control during hearings, depositions, mediation,and trial. Try to be the bigger person and not get bogged down in venting and arguments. That means not posting a rant to your Facebook page. In fact, now might be the time to take a break from social media. Don’t use your kids as bargaining chips, they will end up feeling it and being hurt. Happiness really is the best revenge. So find ways of being happy despite the situation.
According to attorney and divorce mediator Rachel Alexander, almost all divorces are settled before they go to trial. Despite that, divorcing couples still spend thousands of dollars preparing for litigation that never actually occurs. Meanwhile, they don’t prepare for the settlement negotiations that determine the outcome of their divorce. Because its likely that your case will end up in mediation, why not start with it in the first place? It could save you time, aggravation, and money.
If you are not comfortable with the settlement arrangements at the first meeting, take a draft home and think about it. According to Abby Rodman, LICSW, a relationship expert in Newton, Massachusetts:
“It’s a good idea to get a second set of eyes on your divorce agreement before you sign. Divorce agreements can be protracted and complex. And, just like everyone else, divorce attorneys and mediators can make mistakes. Signing a divorce agreement can have lifelong implications. So don’t rush it — go get a second opinion.”
Choose your mediator carefully and don’t settle if you do not agree to what’s being proposed. A knowledgeable mediator can help you determine options while also creating the best plan that suits you.
Working with a Divorce Attorney
If you are facing a divorce, you should work with a divorce attorney that will take a vested interest in your specific situation and advise you on what you might face in a divorce regarding property division, child support and custody, and alimony. They will be able to advise you on your options. A divorce attorney will provide support and guidance as you work towards ending your marriage.
For advice on divorce, you need the expert law firm of Law Offices of Korol and Velen, Certified Family Law Specialists.