Ten Tips to Help You Deal With Divorce and Family Law Issues
For spouses, the complexity of Divorce or Family Law can prove to be a daunting challenge. Even though lawyers and judges are familiar with almost every variation of divorce, it can be daunting for spouses who are just starting to experience it.
It would be too easy to simplify such an individual experience into general recommendations. However, these simple tips can help. It is not surprising that the emphasis is on things that you can control in a world where many other things are not.
Do not believe what you’ve heard
These are the opinions of family, friends, colleagues, fictional television characters, and co-workers. All that “legal advice” should be taken and reduced to writing. Then run it through a paper shredder. You should not place any faith in the outcome. Lawyers will often say things like “My friend got $10,000.00 per monthly in spousal assistance, why can’t he get that?”. Or “My cousin has sole custody of his children so I want the exact same.”
You could be disappointed if you allow someone who has been through a divorce/separation to set your expectations about legal entitlements and obligations.
Each case must be considered in its own context. This includes the income, assets and liabilities of the couple and the best interests of the children. In Family Law and Divorce matters, there is no place for templates or other cookie-cutter approaches. The legal outcome of one spouse is different from another. Regardless, it is important to listen and consider what your spouse may have said about the process. This is completely understandable.
Make sure you have a reliable support network
The divorce process will require support, both financial and emotional. You might need emotional support in the form professional counseling, an online support group, or simply a strong core of friends and family with whom you can commiserate. There will be times when you feel like the walls are closing in on you. You will be better off having people around you who are willing to listen and help you through the tough times. You should consider any other form of healthy emotional self-treatment. Otherwise, you will continue to try to “find your happy spot” and compartmentalize your emotions.
It can also be difficult to manage legal fees in contested Divorce & Family Law cases. You should ensure that the lawyer you choose is within your financial capabilities. Also, it is important to have a plan in place to pay for their fees as they progress.
Select the right lawyer
You should ensure that your chosen lawyer is able to handle the situation. Consider your spouse and the issues. If you can anticipate the complexity, pace, tone, and style of your Divorce or Family Law matter, make sure that your lawyer is able to meet your needs. Divorce lawyers have different experience levels and scopes, but they all have their own distinct style. You may be convinced that your spouse will act narcissistically or aggressively in a “scorched Earth” manner. A lawyer who is experienced with high-conflict matters might be the best choice. A collaborative lawyer might be more helpful if you are looking to preserve and nurture an amicable relationship even after divorce.
Distinguish the Battles from War
Divorce and Family Law matters that are more urgent should be dealt with as soon as possible. Some issues can also be resolved quickly as “low-hanging fruits”, where the fair, just and equitable outcome is obvious to everyone. These issues should be resolved immediately, even if only temporarily, in order to allow for a final decision.
Talk with your lawyer about your priorities and then triage the issues according to them. The real impasses will be revealed sooner rather than later, if you have the right priorities, merit, urgency, and priority for your issues. Only remaining is how to solve them.
Investigate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Court is not the only option. It should be the last resort, not the alternative. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), is gaining popularity rapidly and it’s rightfully so. This forum, commonly known as “mediation”, provides amicable and economically more efficient ways for the parties to resolve their Divorce & Family Law problems.
ADR is applicable in all cases. ADR is an attractive option for divorce proceedings that involve parenting, child/spousal support, or property division.
Money matters such as support and property division require that both spouses are financially transparent in order to resolve them. Both spouses will need to share information, including income tax returns and pay stubs.
No matter how amicable your financial problems are, complete, honest, and accurate financial disclosure is the cornerstone of any divorce settlement. Get started with your financial paperwork. It is essential.
Rediscover Your Marriage Contracts
You should also consider any cohabitation or prenuptial agreements you might have signed before getting married. They are often hidden in filing cabinets or safety deposit boxes, but they have a tremendous value. These documents could play a part in determining whether or not your divorce proceedings will be deemed successful.
Communicate with your spouse and on social media in a manner that is appropriate
Experiential Family Lawyers and Divorce Lawyers will give you plenty of examples of spouses attempting to undermine their positions via social media and written communications with each other. You could be shamingly broadcasting your abusive comments to make it clear who is the “unfriendly parent”. Perhaps they post photos of new wealth to show their modesty amid claims of under-reporting income. This information can be used by your spouse for their benefit and yours. Favorable outcomes in Family Law and Divorce are more difficult when you are the “author of your own misery”.
It is important that sensible spouses practice discipline and restraint when using social media or telecommunications during divorce proceedings. Be sensible.
Take into account the need for experts
A strong lawyer-client relationship is the best way to resolve Divorce & Family issues. But, the ongoing exchange of client instructions as well as legal advice has limits. If you require external professional opinions or advice, it is best to delegate that responsibility to professionals who are qualified for such roles. Certain parenting issues may call for the retaining of Counsellors/Parenting Experts. Forensic accountants or income analysts may be required for certain financial problems.
Everyone should keep their own track. Let the lawyers do the legal work. Let the Counsellors handle the counselling. Let the accountants do the accounting. One should never be forced to do more than they are allowed or step out of their job.
Expert fees must also be considered. Although it might seem attractive to each spouse to have their own multi-disciplinary Dream Team of favourable experts, it is not feasible for most. Experts should be carefully and judiciously selected, and only when there is a critical informational need. To minimize costs and to facilitate consensus, spouses might consider retaining an expert together.
Be Prepared for the Real Possibility of Your Divorce Being More Than an Event
Divorcing spouses want the “clean break” that allows them to quickly move on from their marriage, without any conflict or interference.
This is not possible in all situations. It might be necessary to revisit issues that are subject to changes in fact. Formal arrangements for parenting, decision-making for children, child support, and spousal support can only be as effective as the facts at the time. The arrangements made should be reviewed as soon as the facts change. As incomes and employment situations change, support should be reviewed annually. To ensure that the children’s “best interests” are met, it is important to monitor parenting matters.
Nobody wants a Family Lawyer on their staff or on their speed dial. Divorce is more about the unpredictable nature of life events than the unscrupulous lawyers who milk the system.
ADR is once again a method that spouses can use to deal with ongoing fluid issues in a cost-effective manner.