Maria and her husband Alan both knew for a while that divorce was inevitable, so then came the question of how to proceed. Many friends and family were eager with divorce advice; but really, Maria and Alan wanted the same thing: what was best for the kids. Though they didn’t agree on a lot of things, they did agree on that, and it superseded all else.
The both hired lawyers, but between Maria and Alan, they ironed out the particulars on their own. They were able to settle out of court, which saved them a lot of time and money. They both realized they needed to negotiate and that they wouldn’t get everything they wanted, except they did work out a joint custody arrangement they both were happy with. Their lawyers commented how amicable the divorce was, because in their experience, they had seen so much worse.
Perhaps you may not know that you have different options for divorce because of all the horror stories you’ve heard or the dramatization of divorce you’ve seen on TV or in movies. So if divorce is in your future, here is some divorce advice that a lawyer may not have told you.
1. Copies, Copies, Copies
Make copies of all your financial documents as soon as you realize that divorce is on the horizon. Because you never know if or when you’ll have access to them again. Better to be safe than sorry. Ask your lawyer for which documents you will need most.
2. Shop Around for a Good Lawyer
Of course a lawyer is going to tell you to get a lawyer, but it’s also good advice. What a lawyer may not tell you is that you don’t have to pay for full representation services if you only just need basic services. But definitely get one. A lawyer knows all the ins and outs of divorce laws and is completely on YOUR side. Now more than ever, you need an advocate to help you get what is best for you. Ask around for recommendations and talk about your options when doing a consolation. Don’t be afraid to shop around and have several consultations before deciding on which lawyer you want to go with. You must be able to trust who you hire.
3. Don’t Run to Court
You don’t necessarily have to settle in court—you could take care of things out of court, if you are both willing. It would be easier and less costly that way. You could divorce in a number of different ways, including mediation or collaborative divorce. That would mean less time using a lawyer, which would mean less money. Also, consider that when you are in court, a judge is involved. That judge may or may not rule in your favor.
4. Give a Little, Get a Little
You aren’t going to “win” your divorce. The truth is, no one really wins. So instead, look at it as a process of everyone giving a little and getting a little. Which things are most important? Fight for those and relax on the rest. The more you can negotiate with your soon to be ex, the less time and money it will take, because you’ll have it figured out between you before paying a lawyer by the hour to do so.
5. Don’t Expect it to Happen Overnight
Divorce can take time. Your ex may drag their feet, or the courts make take a long time to schedule or file things. It really just depends on so many factors. So be patient and go with the flow as much as possible. You’ll be less stressed if you don’t put a deadline on it.
6. Separate Your Emotions from the Law
This will be one of the hardest things you will do, but the most necessary. During a divorce, you are trying to figure out who gets what, and those personal items have a lot of emotions attached to them. Acknowledge those emotions, but don’t let them run the show.
7. Control What You Can, Give Up What You Can’t
You can only control yourself, so give up trying to control the divorce process or your spouse. Of course, that doesn’t mean you stop fighting for what is rightfully yours, but don’t put all of your stock in it. In the end, you need to walk away with your dignity.
8. Mark the Day
The day your divorce is final will be full of emotions. Of course you’ll be glad the process is finally over and that you can move on; but you’ll also be solemn and sad about what could have been. Don’t let the day pass without planning something for YOU. Go out with friends and do something to burn off some steam. Then you can look back on the day as a necessary evil rather than a horrible day you never want to talk about.