10 Things to Remember in Your Divorce
10. Get counseling. I don’t know how often counseling saves a marriage, but I always think it is worth a shot. In addition, I think it helps people to open up lines of communication that assists in resolving the actual divorce.
9. Get over the anger. This may take a while, but you cannot effectively plan for the rest of your life and the kids’ lives while you are hell bent on revenge.
8. Hire a divorce attorney. Don’t use your mom’s friend who does traffic tickets, wills, a little PI and a few divorces. Someone who practices in the domestic relations area all the time will be the most efficient and effective, and will also be the most familiar with the particular court procedures.
7. Open your own bank account. Don’t leave all the marital money in one joint account where your spouse could withdraw everything, leaving you with nothing.
6. Expect the process to take a while. In Missouri, a divorce will always take at least 30 days, and with court dockets the average in St. Louis County is about six months. Be patient. People who try to rush the process through often make decisions that they regret later.
5. If at all possible try not to stay in the same house while the process is going on. At worst, this can be dangerous leaving you and your spouse vulnerable to potential domestic violence. Even if there is no violence there will be a lot of tension, and it will also create issues with each party having access to each other’s mail, phone, computer, etc. If you have children, separating will give you, as separated parents, a chance to test drive a custody plan. In addition, each party will be able to better assess what his or her expenses will be.
4. Don’t use the kids as a weapon. This only hurts them in the long run. They have a hard enough time with this stuff. And do not get DFS involved unless there really is abuse.
3. Don’t compare your situation with everyone else’s. No one else has the same incomes, expenses, debts and children that you have so you cannot look at someone else’s outcome from his or her divorce and expect that yours should be exactly the same. Attorneys and judges really do try to tailor a judgment to fit with each family’s living situation and resources.
2. Avoid the $500 hedge trimmer. I once represented a client who wanted me to get into a dispute with his wife’s attorney over who got a hedge trimmer. When I asked him how much it would cost to replace the hedge trimmer, his response was “probably less than this conversation.” Be sure to do a mental “cost-benefit analysis” prior to insisting that your attorney get into a fight over who gets each household item or piece of personal property, as it is never worthwhile to spend more in attorney fees than the value of a disputed asset.
1. Spare us the naked photos, videos and other unnecessary “evidence.” Rather than seizing computers, photos and iPhone videos and rushing to your attorney’s office with them, you can tell your attorney about them first, as well as the circumstances under which you have them. In the event that your attorney needs these items, he or she will let you know. Judges rarely want to see these items, and you should think about the potential embarrassment to you (and your spouse) of a judge or other attorney viewing these items in what is likely to be an open courtroom.