Divorce can be an emotional, complex, trying time, where every well-meaning friend, family member, and stranger will weigh in with advice and best practices. As a matrimonial attorney, it is often my job to help my clients parse the good advice from the bad.
With ten years’ experience helping my clients reach their matrimonial goals, 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.
- Education – The most important thing you can do, from the moment you begin to think of divorce as a possibility 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 Your Priority – The motto in my firm and in my life, besides “Relentless Advocacy,” 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.
- Make a List of your Top 3-4 Desired Outcomes – Without a plan and key goals, you will be swept along the sometimes 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 absolutely 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 get to retrieve all the documents you will need.
- Get top-notch legal advice – At the start of your divorce is the worst time to look to save a few dollars. Do the research to ensure that you are getting the best legal representation you can. You should look to select an attorney who knows her stuff, you can trust to be your confidant, and 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 or angry or crushed your spouse has made you, the judge will not care about any of it unless it is legally relevant (and it usually is not). Keep the emotional stuff 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 children’s parent. You and your ex will likely attend your kids’ weddings together. The more amicable you keep your divorce now, the easier the graduations and weddings will be years from now.
- Do not trash-talk your spouse in front of your children – Your spouse is your children’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.
– Mia Poppe, Esq.