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DIVORCE. The word shatters even the strongest of hearts. If you are headed that way, please read this.
Go to Counseling
Before we even start thinking about divorce – GO TO COUNSELING. Couples AND individual. A lot of problems causing people to divorce may be personal problems. If you can save the marriage in any way, you owe it to the marriage – to the children (if you have them) – to your spouse – and to yourself – to do whatever it takes.
If, however, your differences are sincerely irreconcilable, here are some tips from a divorce lawyer.
1. Delete all social networking accounts.
Yes, that would be your Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, SnapChat, MySpace, Twitter, or other social media profiles. You are about to embark in a very painful process. Although you should be able to share with few intimate friends, posting your feelings and experiences, PHOTOS, on Facebook could have negative consequences, including potentially legally adverse consequences. Just trust me on this.
2. Get a new email account.
Better yet, if you can afford it, get a new computer. If you are sharing a computer, you need to make sure there is no spyware. If you plan to communicate with anyone (your mom, your therapist, your attorney), through emails – be discrete and careful. I’ve represented many clients who had full access to their spouse’s emails.
3. Dust off that prenup.
If you have a prenup, take it out and review it. I always advise my clients who have prenups to keep it in a separate place. It is a bad idea to store your prenups in the same safe deposit box. They always end up missing when you need them the most.
4. Figure out money.
Know your finances, especially if you are the “out-spouse”. Just because you aren’t currently earning income, doesn’t mean you need to be clueless about finances. EDUCATE yourself as to the family finances. Even if you do not have statements, you need to keep track of institutions, account numbers, balances. This includes bank accounts, stock accounts, retirement accounts, credit card accounts, life insurance, and tax returns.
Make a list of all of your assets. Then, make a list of debts.
There is absolutely NO excuse for being in the dark. Knowledge is power.
5. Separate money.
On that note, depending on whether you are the “in-spouse” or “out-spouse”, you will eventually need to separate accounts.
If you are the supported spouse, it may pay for you to act clueless and draw out the date of separation. You can hire a private investigator to figure out if community assets are being expended, trace accounts, etc.
If you are the supporting spouse, and you suspect foul play, you need to immediately do what it takes to show objectively/subjectively a clear date of separation, and open separate accounts, depositing earnings post-separation into these separate accounts, immediately.
6. Get a parenting plan going.
If you have children, you need to start figuring out a parenting plan.
And if you have young children, learn about step-up parenting plans.
Children are NOT, and I repeat, NOT property to be divided. You need to consider that you are possibly wrecking their lives, and you need to take every step possible – including therapy, to make their little lives go as smoothly as possible during this split.
Absolutely, without fail, please work out a parenting plan with your soon to be ex, WITHOUT court intervention.
Barring any abuse or addiction, recognize that your marriage is falling apart, but RESPECT their role as the other parent. Suck it up.
I know that custody battles seem glamorous, and it may appear that “Everyone is doing it,”, but the reality is: IT SUCKS AND YOU DO NOT WANT THIS.
If there is any fight left in you, you need to FIGHT to get a good working parenting plan. You can do this. Engage the services of a custody mediator/facilitator. WORK IT OUT. I repeat, WORK IT OUT. DO NOT GO TO COURT. Even if you have 750 million dollars, do NOT pay attorneys to fight your custody battle for you.
7. Find a place to live.
Figure out where you want to live. Discuss it. Understand that if you move out, there may be legal consequences.
8. Budget accordingly.
If you never had to budget, this is painful.
But a divorce is going from ONE household to TWO households. Basically, you are DOUBLING your expenses on HALF the income.
It doesn’t have to “break the bank”, or “take you to the cleaners”, but you must recognize that money will be a bit more tight, so maybe skip French Laundry, and instead take the kids to McDonalds tonight.
9. Find good help.
If I had cancer, I would be knocking down the doors of the best oncologist in town. If I got into a car accident, I’d hire the best personal injury attorney in Los Angeles.
Same with divorce. Don’t hire an everyday lawyer who defends murder trials, and chases ambulances, and handles divorce. If you are going through a divorce, find a Certified Family Law Specialist to represent you. They will charge more. They’ve earned it, and you will get what you pay for.
10. Learn Your Options
There are many options for your divorce. Hiring lawyers and going to Court isn’t the only way to get a divorce. In fact, it’s probably the worst way. Consider mediation and collaborative law. If you go to mediation, consider hiring a consulting attorney. Work with therapists and counselors for your family.
11. Think good thoughts.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Divorce is a nasty thing. You don’t need to plague your thoughts.
Remember, like all things, this too, shall pass.