Most women fall victim to this misunderstanding about divorce: “I will hire a divorce lawyer and let him / her deal with the legal issues.”
Big mistake. When you have decided that divorce is the only option in your situation, you must be ready to “take control of” the path of your divorce. Divorce lawyers are fallible, they make mistakes. Ex-husbands can be angry and allow that anger to determine the direction of your divorce.
You might not enter the process fully prepared. All of these mistakes keep you from being in charge when you feel you are in charge.
Here are 10 tips for those looking to take their divorce into their own hands.
1. Think about the big picture before filing for divorce
Before filing for divorce, make sure you have all of your ducks lined up. Do you know how to make a living after the divorce, where you will live and what reaction to expect from your husband? Plan ahead for each possible outcome and be prepared to overcome any obstacles you may encounter.
2. Set up your support system
Make a list of friends and relatives who you know will support you during and after your divorce. Who will be there to listen when the emotions overwhelm you? Who can help you when you are short on cash? Divorce is a legal, financial, and emotional process. Make sure you have a support system to turn to at every stage of the process.
3. If you are in an abusive or conflicted relationship, do not share your plans with your husband
For some, getting out of marriage can put them in danger. And for some reason, many who are in danger see it as their responsibility to give their abusive husband the details of their plan to leave. Big mistake! If you plan on leaving an abusive relationship, don’t tell him. If you are planning on hiring a lawyer and filing for divorce, don’t tell them.
If your husband is abusive, you don’t owe him an explanation as to why or when you are going to leave. You owe yourself and having a secret plan means less chance of conflict or escalation of abuse if you leave.
4. Make copies of all documents related to marriage finances
Once you’ve hired an attorney and got the legal ball rolling, they’ll need copies of all financial documents related to the marriage. You will need copies of bank statements, tax returns for at least five years, pension fund statements and all accounts that are kept in your name and in your person. You will also need proof of income for you and your husband.
When you have these copies and keep them in a safe place until you need them, you will be one step ahead of the legal game the moment you hire an attorney.
5. Avoid engaging in any conflict or behavior that adversely affects you in court
This should be common sense, but I have found some fail to understand the importance of behaving on your best behavior before and during the divorce. Once you decide to get a divorce, it is time to put down your anger and move on with the process.
Don’t send your ex angry emails; Don’t respond to angry emails from your ex. Don’t use text messages to get into conflict. Keep your personal business away from Facebook and other social media. And for God’s sake don’t fight in front of your kids and neighbors. If you feel like you can’t be around your ex without conflict, then choose not to be around your ex. Take the elevated road!
Finally, when you join online support communities, you are using an email address your ex doesn’t know and a username that they can’t trace. If your ex Googles your email address, they can find any online support community you are a part of. Everything you share online through a support system must be done anonymously.
6. Disagree with the same lawyer
A divorce lawyer is YOUR lawyer. A lawyer cannot act as a lawyer for two people. If you are lucky enough to come to an agreement on all matters such as child support, spousal support and property sharing, great. Just be sure not to sign anything until YOUR lawyer has reviewed the agreement.
7. Hire a divorce lawyer you can trust to have your back
The most important relationship you will have during the divorce proceedings is with your lawyer. Follow these guidelines to make sure you don’t make the mistake of hiring the wrong lawyer.
8. Find out about your state’s divorce laws
As I said before, divorce lawyers are fallible and make mistakes. Knowing your state’s divorce laws and family court procedures can help you become proactive on the legal aspects of your divorce. Your lawyer will do everything to protect you BUT no lawyer is as invested in meeting your needs as you are. Equip yourself with knowledge so that you know you are well represented.
9. Be willing to negotiate, but don’t give away the sink
Divorce is a legal process; One of these is that you need to be ready to negotiate with your ex during the settlement negotiations. Do not divorce yourself believing that you will receive the highest possible child support, a large sum of monthly spousal support, and family house. You are not!
You have to be willing to give in order to get. A divorce settlement should be fair to you and your ex. Go for fair!
10. Make your children’s needs your primary focus
Although last, this is your most important consideration. Every act you take during the divorce has an emotional impact on your children. Do NOTHING that will cause them to suffer the negative consequences.
Both parents love their children. If your divorce is handled right they will feel free to love you and your ex AND they will feel safe in the love you both have for them.
If you’re angry or tempted to send your ex a nasty email or text, stop and think about your children. The love we feel for our children magically keeps us on our toes and keeps us in tune with what is right and wrong. Don’t let them down!
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