No one approaches the prospect of divorce with joy or even optimism.
Divorce is stressful and can be laden with strong emotions running through all involved parties. With two spouses advocating for the best deal for themselves within the foreign world of the legal fight, the future can appear very uncertain.
But it does not have to be this way.
You can minimize unneeded antagonization, expenses, and drama. Even with the assistance of a competent family law attorney, it is important that you take a proactive role.
By taking the proper steps discussed in this article, you can help create a better outcome for you and your family in the event that divorce is unavoidable.
- Develop an understanding of your financial situation and expenses
Take account of your entire financial situation, and organize related documentation to ensure you have financial clarity. Negotiations can only bear fruit if it’s clear what is at stake. It is critical to know what exactly you have and what you need before going into the negotiation process. Take stock of your financial life.
Almost everyone is inexperienced when it comes to divorce. Even if you have been through a divorce before, only legal teams have been through enough repetitions of the divorce process to feel like they have a solid understanding of how divorce can play out in the legal world.
Anxiety and fear can be mitigated through preparation and action. Clearly develop your goals. These goals should include an outline of your best case scenario as well as the minimum of what you would settle for. Talk to your divorce family lawyer to help create a checklist to aid you in this planning process.
- Make good use of your time talking to your attorney
You are paying by the minute, so make sure the time you spend with your family law attorney is quality time.
You don’t need to talk about sports or discuss non-divorce related matters.
Come prepared with a list of questions and be ready to articulate what you want to know or discuss. Consider what is important for your divorce family lawyer to be aware of.
It’s also important to discuss the options of how to proceed. Learn the differences between divorce mediation, divorce litigation and collaborative-mediation. You have options, so know the different paths to your most preferable outcome. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. View your meetings as opportunities to build your case strategy and create a game plan.
When you come out of your meeting, you should feel like you have a clear path outlined for what to do and what happens next.
- Be the one who files for divorce first
The party who files for divorce first will be able to frame the narrative for the court as the petitioner. If you file first, this means that your spouse will have to respond to issues that you framed, and he or she will effectively have to spend time in the back seat while you set the stage.
- Talk to yourself as if you were your best friend
When someone is personally involved in a difficult situation, emotions can be overwhelming. When a spouse or children are involved, emotions are likely to run high and can cloud judgment.
Consider the advice that you would offer to your best friend. Apply that advice to yourself. Are negotiations proceeding in your favor or an equal manner? Or does the potential outcome seem one-sided? Should you renegotiate and push back a little bit harder?
Don’t allow yourself to settle for a deal that isn’t fair to you because you are worried about disappointing the people around you or because you feel pressured. How would you respond to someone else you cared for who was in your situation?
- Be consistent with what you say and write and never lie
The life that you live must be consistent with what you tell the court. If you tell the court one thing and then act differently you will damage your credibility in the eyes of the court. The lifestyle you live will serve as the most valuable evidence to the court.
If you lie about anything, the court may not believe you when you provide other facts during proceedings. Lying will serve as the best way to help your spouse’s case during divorce. Protect and defend your credibility.
- Don’t trigger or push buttons
Do not push the buttons of your spouse. Anything you say or do that may trigger bringing out the worst in your spouse will create unnecessary drama. This drama will also have the potential to bring out the worse in you.
Triggering your spouse to have an emotional response can create a more adversarial situation and will make divorce negotiations more difficult and can undermine your progress.
- Don’t speak badly of your spouse in front of your children
During the divorce process, it will be helpful to focus on the wellbeing of your children. This will also benefit everyone involved by lessening the amount of drama that is created by divorce.
Anything that you say to your kids about your spouse will likely be repeated by your kids to your spouse. This will initiate a never ending back-and-forth verbal battle between spouses that will leave everyone worse off.
Your kids will be caught in the middle and they will be stressed by the negativity. Additionally, this battle may lead to damaged parent-child relationships and a more embittered relationship between you and your spouse.
An unnecessarily embittered or more hostile spouse will be less likely to see things from your point of view or to pursue an amicable arrangement for the divorce. Focusing on the wellbeing of your kids can be an effective way to ensure their mental health and maintain a better relationship between spouses.
And when you consider preferably outcomes, there is nothing that should be higher on the priority list than assuring your children are well protected and will be taken care of in the most loving, familial manner possible.
- Stay Patient
Maintaining a demeanor that demonstrates patience during divorce will serve you in the long run. Being patient shows the other party that you will wait to ensure you get the deal you deserve.
Being patient indicates that you won’t allow yourself to be pressured or strong armed into making hasty decisions. It shows that you are not desperate and are not in a rush. The strategy of patience serves as an effective negotiating tool.
- Avoid the Bulldog
An attorney who is aggressive, confrontational, and pushy towards your spouse and his or her attorney during divorce may seem like an effective advocate for you.
But in reality, this is not the case.
You don’t want an attorney who will harass, provoke, or generate unneeded animosity. In effect, an attorney who employs the bulldog strategy is trying to keep up an appearance where they are trying to score points with you as a seemingly relentless defender.
The outcome of the bulldog approach will be a more enraged spouse who’s attorney may begin to engage in similar behavior in order to score their own points. Your relationship with your spouse will suffer and proceedings will end up being drawn out and less effective.
Strategies that generate more animosity and ill-will are poor strategies. For the sake of you and your family’s mental health and pocket books, avoid the bulldog attorney. Seek a family law attorney who will fight for you in a way that minimizes unnecessary conflict and values maintaining quality family relationships.
- Consider divorce mediation
Divorce mediation is a negotiation option that is more peaceful. Divorce mediation is a process where a neutral and objective third pary serves as a mediator for you and your spouse to work out each party’s issues related to the divorce.
In reality, about 90% of divorces are settled out of court within the United States. Divorce mediation serves as a way to reach an agreement with your spouse regarding the conditions of your divorce without protracted and expensive legal battles in court.
It is much more common for agreements reached through divorce mediation to be adhered to compared to agreements made through court orders. Negotiations concluded through mutual agreement are viewed more amicably than those concluded through court orders.
If possible, divorce mediation is an optimal route to pursue. A qualified Los Angeles divorce mediation expert can aid you in the process.
Divorce is a difficult and uncertain time for most. However, divorce does not have to be as difficult as you might imagine it to be.
If you take into account the 11 rules outlined here, the divorce process can be more peaceful, less adversarial, less chaotic, and provide a better outcome for you and your family.
Additionally, for same-sex couples, it’s recommended that you find a same-sex divorce attorney who understands the nuances of a same-sex union as it relates to the current laws in California. No matter your gender or situation, finding a qualified and experienced family law attorney is a critical first step in the divorce process.
If you live in Southern California, Leon F. Bennett, a highly skilled Woodland Hills divorce attorney can guide you toward the best outcome during a divorce. Contact his office for an initial consultation that can help you start the difficult divorce process with care and compassion.