As a family law attorney, I know that divorce most often comes with an overabundance of emotions. That said, feelings can get in the way of moving forward. Even if you and your spouse agree on calling it quits, you need to make sure you’re doing what’s best for you and your family.
The first thing is realizing that it can be difficult to handle matters on your own. While online or library resources might make things sound simplistic, that’s generally not the case.
Do meet with an experienced divorce lawyer to gain some insight into the process. Clients find it helpful that I offer a one-hour complimentary consultation to discuss their individual situations. I provide my professional opinion as to the best course of action, and set expectations based on my experience.
Do think of your marriage as a business partnership and its breakup as a dissolution of the venture.
Do make a conscious effort to accumulate all financial documentation acquired before and after your marriage. Make sure you have copies of relevant information regarding both assets and debts.
Don’t change beneficiaries on insurance policies or retirement accounts. You should refrain from taking loans against them as you must have your spouse’s permission to do so.
Do keep your spouse and children on your medical insurance policies. New Jersey law prohibits you from making changes until you are divorced.
Don’t sign off on forfeiting rights or property without understanding the full ramifications. This includes matters regarding real estate, retirement assets, and more.
Don’t attempt to hide assets or intentionally become unemployed or underemployed to avoid alimony or child support.
Do consider the legal ramifications of any of your actions. You shouldn’t clear out the marital home or destroy property within it. You should avoid anything that could be construed as domestic violence. You should comply with any court orders executed by the judge before, after, and during divorce proceedings.
Don’t hide information from your attorney and expect it not to surface. Surprises can hurt negotiations and the outcome of your divorce.
Do make a good faith effort to work with your spouse concerning how things will work during the divorce process. I help my clients with this process and have the court document interim arrangements for support, custody, and child visitation.
Don’t adopt a firm stance on matters of little importance. Instead, choose your battles and be willing to compromise as much as possible.
Don’t take the risk of arguing to the point that a judge needs to rule on even the smallest issues regarding your divorce. Why leave it up to a third party to resolve what impacts your future? Besides, protracted litigation depletes both time and money. Be pragmatic and decide if paying extra attorneys’ fees justifies the expense of making a point.
Don’t think of your divorce as the time to seek revenge. If you’re upset because your husband or wife cheated on you, your reaction is justifiable. However, charges of infidelity won’t change how assets are split up. By the same token, you won’t receive more in support payments or exclusive rights to your children.
Don’t share your confidences with even your adult children and expect them to keep your secrets.
Do limit your temptation to argue in from of your kids. If you must, limit your communications to text messaging or email. Read what you write a few times, as it may turn up as evidence in your case.
Don’t use your children as pawns when you’re going through a divorce. Parental alienation creates a host of problems for kids of all ages.
Do recognize that your children should have the benefit of love and support from both parents. And, that both mothers and fathers have rights when it comes to their children.
Don’t seek validation from your children or expect them to act as your therapist during your divorce.
Do practice discretion when it comes to introducing your new love interest in your children’s lives.
Don’t withhold parenting time arrangements because you haven’t received child support payments on time.
Do follow the court’s directives concerning spousal support or child support. Non-compliance could land you in jail. It also could result in depriving your family of necessities.
Don’t be ashamed to seek professional help to deal with the losses associated with divorce. Many say the process mirrors the emotions experienced with a loved one’s death.
Do make time for yourself and attempt to look at the divorce as not only an ending – but as a fresh start for a new beginning.