The truth of divorce is that you will be making some of the most important financial and emotional decisions of your life when you’re at your most vulnerable. Dismantling your family and assets can feel so scary and overwhelming that it can be hard to think clearly. Read on to learn how to avoid making dreadful mistakes during the divorce process.
See a divorce therapist. Managing difficult emotions will help you keep a clear head so you can make logical, informed choices. A therapist who specializes in divorce will educate you on the stages of divorce grief, give you coping strategies to calm down your over-active nervous system, and advise you on effective ways to communicate with your spouse. Your therapist will also answer questions about co-parenting techniques, and the best way to help your kids adjust to the changes that divorce brings.
Do your divorce homework. If you’re the one initiating the divorce, you have the advantage of choosing a family law attorney, learning about the divorce process, and getting organized before you file. Doing your homework beforehand will give you time and clarity of mind to avoid costly mistakes. If you didn’t choose the divorce, you have the added challenge of getting up to speed quickly – but don’t go too fast. Try to consult with at least 2-3 attorneys to see which one is right for you, get your financial documents in order, and educate yourself on the different stages of the divorce process.
Don’t take legal advice from friends and family. Lean on your loved ones for emotional support and leave the legal advice for trained professionals. Your cousin’s divorce in Miami ten years ago has nothing to do with yours. Family law is open to interpretation, and varies from state to state. Your divorce outcome hinges on many factors, including your lawyer’s expertise, complexities of your case, the nature of your divorce process (mediation vs. litigation), and, often, the biases of your judge. So thank your friends and family for their concern and tell them, politely, that what you really need are casseroles and free babysitting.
Make a list of priorities — and stick to them. Being too accommodating will signal to your ex that he or she can bully you into submission, even after the divorce is final. Ask for what you want, both financially and in terms of custody. On the flip side, don’t let revenge drive your divorce. Being too aggressive won’t change your spouse’s personality, or the fact that your marriage is ending. It will just drain money that would be better used for retirement and children’s college funds. It will also set the stage for an antagonistic co-parenting relationship. Shoot for being appropriately assertive so you can get a reasonable settlement and move on with your life.
The decisions you make now will impact the future of you and your children for the rest of your lives. Staying calm and organized can make the process smoother, with as positive an outcome as possible.
Where are your answers to to these questions leading you?
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