Divorce can be an emotional, complex, trying time, where every well-meaning friend, family member, or stranger will weigh in with advice and best practices. So how do you decipher good information from bad?
Every day, my clients lean on me for guidance to achieve their matrimonial goals. During this time, I have cultivated ten key pieces of advice that have served me and my clients well as we traverse the world of divorce together.
- Disengage – There are a million reasons to fight with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, i.e. betrayal, lies, infidelity, broken hearts, and broken promises. Drop your weapons, disengage, and move on with your new life.
- Educate Yourself – The most important thing you can do, from the moment you think of divorce to the instant you have the Judgment of Divorce in hand, is to educate yourself so that your expectations are realistic. Any time you have a question about the process, speak to your lawyer. Having your attorney, financial planner, and therapist on speed dial is great, but no one will ever care more about your divorce than you will, so educate yourself on the process.
- Make Your Kids The Priority – The motto in my firm and in my life is “kids over ego.” Divorces are often an angry, upsetting, stressful time. Your children are not the source of these feelings, and it is your job to ensure that your children thrive, even if you are hurting right now.
- List Your Top 3-4 Desired Outcomes – Without a plan and key goals, you will be swept along the turbulent ride of your divorce instead of charting your own course. It is up to you what the outcome and particulars of your divorce will be, and you must take charge of this process.
- Get Your Financials ASAP – The best time to find, organize, and make copies of your financials will be at the beginning of your divorce, or earlier when you can still speak with your spouse. The more contentious a divorce becomes, the tougher it can be to retrieve all the documents you will need during the process.
- Hire Top-Notch Legal advice – Do the research and interview several attorneys. Ask for references. Do not hire an attorney just because your friend did or because they are low-cost. Hire an attorney that you trust to be your confidant, who brings experience and a record of success. And hire an attorney who will fight for you as hard as if it were her own divorce.
- Emotional Arguments Have No Place in Court – No matter how hurt, angry, or crushed your spouse has made you feel, the judge will not care about any of it unless it is legally relevant – and it usually is not. Keep emotions out of the courtroom and focus on the facts.
- Your Ex Will Be Your Children’s Parent Forever – Though you and your spouse will go your separate ways after the divorce, your ex will remain your child’s parent. There will be graduations, weddings, and even illnesses that bring you both together. The more amicable you keep your divorce now, the easier life events will be moving forward.
- Do not trash-talk your spouse in front of your children – Your spouse is your child’s parent, their blood. No matter how tempted you are to get your kids on your side by making your spouse out to be the bad guy, don’t do it. By putting down their other parent, you are putting down your children.
- Your new life awaits – One of my favorite maxims is that iron sharpens iron. It takes the hardest, toughest, most painful experiences in your life to enable the best learning and growing. Though the divorce process is hell at times, you will emerge better, stronger, and happier. You can take it from me, I’ve personally experienced “divorce hell,” and emerged better than ever.
If you or someone you know is considering or going through a divorce, I encourage you to reach out. Take the first step toward your ‘real’ happily ever after.
Let Me Be Your Brave –
Mia Poppe, Esq.