Some people’s minds go first to the legal system and the need for legal protections when they think about divorce. Others think of the pain involved when a relationship is ending. Still others focus on a set of financial issues that need to be addressed. In reality, divorce is all of these and more.
If your spouse has told you of an intention to end your marriage or if you are the one who believes this to be necessary, or at least the best choice, then it is essential to be organized, strategic, and thoughtful in order to protect your interests, as well as those of your children.
Who Will Represent You?
A critical first step is identifying your criteria for who you want to represent you. For many, it is important that their divorce attorney:
- Has at least several years of experience
- Has a specialization in Family Law
- Offers a variety of process choices, including negotiation, collaborative divorce, and litigation
- Understands the client’s personal goals and priorities, and will work hard to accomplish them
- Embodies important values, such as a commitment to shield the children from parental conflict, an appreciation of the positive aspects of the marriage in addition to its failures, and a respectful, professional approach to the resolution of issues
- Has a sophisticated understanding of finance, divorce tax, pensions and other areas of specialized knowledge
- Is knowledgeable about the emotional distress caused by divorce and empathetically listens to your concerns
- Is ethical and professional
Make a Process Choice
The right process choice will help you achieve your goals and protect your interests. Explore your options and the pros and cons of each with your attorney.
Increase Your Knowledge about Your Finances
The need for this emphasis will vary depending on the degree of your involvement during the marriage in paying the bills and handling investment decisions. If your involvement has been minimal, your attorney will ensure that you learn about and understand your finances and financial situation and your attorney and you may decide to involve a financial professional to assist in this aspect of your case.
Handle Your Emotions Constructively
There are a myriad number of ways in which the pain and disappointment of divorce plays out in the lives of the couple, their children, and their wider circle of family, co-workers, and friends. It is critical to pay attention to these forces. You may want to talk with your attorney about getting professional help to assist with managing and understanding your emotions during this difficult time.
Accept that divorce is a process, involving different stages, and progressing over time. Each divorce is different, depending on the facts and people involved. You will need to work closely with your attorney and other professionals to develop and then revise your strategic plan as events unfold or your priorities evolve.
Strive for Perspective
Try not to become overwhelmed by any current difficulty. Ask yourself what will be most important to you five years down the road. What will you be glad that you did, or regret that you did not do during the divorce?What do you want your children to remember about this period? And how do you want to feel in the future about how you handled the stresses of the process?
Aim for balance in how you approach the costs of getting divorced. When it comes to choosing your attorney and other professionals, the old maxim “You get what you pay for” is probably applicable. Paying the fees for a more experienced and therefore more expensive attorney will likely be a good investment in the long run. On the other hand, discuss with your attorney whether you can afford his or services and what you can do to keep fees down. Your attorney will have suggestions. Follow them. It can make a significant difference in the cost of your divorce.
Focus on the Future
Although a divorce is an ending, it is also a beginning. Work hard to keep your eye on the promise of the future, and what you can do to achieve that promise.
Sarah Zimmerman: How to Achieve a Smart and Cost-Effective Divorce
Jonathan Dana: What Are the Top Pitfalls to Avoid in Divorce?