Divorce Advice Every Person Needs to Know
Divorce is a difficult process, no matter the circumstances, but with some preparation, you can minimize the stress and uncertainty of life during and after your divorce. Divorce is difficult on everyone; however, it can often lead to excessive stress, especially if children are involved. The key to a better divorce is to understand the process and to set and manage your expectations. Take stock of your situation and seek advice from competent legal counsel on how the laws apply to your unique circumstances. If you are considering divorce, here are a few things you need to know.
Start a Divorce Fund
You are going to need your own money for a divorce, and you will have to be able to support yourself and your children for a while. If your spouse is the primary breadwinner of the family, you may very well be financially dependent on them to meet your monthly expenses. They could stop covering the bills without notice, so make sure you are prepared before you file for divorce. It is imperative to prepare for financial contingencies if at all possible. It is possible to obtain a court order requiring your spouse to pay for some or all of your living expenses and legal fees if your spouse holds the majority of the family’s money, however this is not guaranteed and is decided by a judge based on the circumstances and facts that are unique to your family’s dynamic. If you have to borrow money from a relative or friend to cover the costs of your divorce, be sure to sign a promissory note so the court will see the funds as a loan that must be repaid, and not as a gift.
Keep a Calendar
You will need to keep track of court deadlines and make special note of discussions with your spouse pertaining to division of your assets and debts, and timesharing with the minor children if applicable. Timelines for divorce proceedings are established by the court. If you have an attorney, take note of any dates and tasks they ask of you and immediately put them on your calendar. Place reminders on your calendar prior to deadlines so the due date does not creep up on you. It is easy to lose sight of the things you need to do due to the emotional upheaval experienced during a divorce. Keeping a calendar is essential for navigating the process.
A calendar may also be used as evidence of participation in your children’s lives by showing a court specific dates and times the children were with you or with your spouse. Visitation dates need to be written down. If your spouse misses parent/teacher conferences or doctor appointments, or does not visit or care for the children, having a calendar to present in court helps the court get a clearer picture of the circumstances. Remember, your judge has never met you or your spouse before. He or she will have to determine who is more credible if your case goes to court. Having evidence to back up your version of the events goes a long way in helping a judge make that determination.
A divorce proceeding produces a lot of paperwork. The easiest way to keep track of it is to keep everything organized and in one place, whether paper or electronic. Put your documents in order and create an index or individual files for various categories of your divorce papers. Most everything can be easily categorized into sub-folders if you maintain your paperwork in digital files. You may have a folder for communications and correspondence from your attorney, drafts of documents sent to you for review or signature, financial documents, and pleadings or other documents filed with the court on your behalf.
Courts require each spouse to provide a lengthy list of financial documents to the other. You will need a good organizational system to keep the documents in chronological order and properly categorized. This will help ensure that you have provided all of the documents that are required and keep track of missing items that may need to be provided at a later time. It will also minimize costs if you are able to provide everything to your attorney in a neat and organized manner so that he or she does not have to take additional time to organize your documents for you.
Get in Therapy
A divorce can create confusion and turmoil in your life, so try to stick to a routine that will keep things as normal as possible. Therapy is a great way to get unbiased feedback regarding your thoughts and feelings so you are better able to process the range of emotions you may be experiencing. Getting feedback from a trained professional will help normalize your emotions and keep you anchored and grounded during a time of tremendous changes. It will also save money. Remember that your attorney is likely charging you by the hour and his or her job is to represent you in the courtroom. Venting to your attorney about your emotional needs can be a costly endeavor. Discuss your legal needs with your attorney and invest in a good therapist to help you navigate the emotional part of the process. Most health insurance policies cover therapists who charge only a small copay, so take advantage of what is available to you.
Stay Off Social Media
Exercise caution before posting anything on social media. While it may feel good to vent about your spouse or flaunt your newfound freedom on social media, it could negatively impact your divorce. Social media posts are often used as evidence to prove or disprove a person’s credibility.
Bringing in a new significant other or flaunting vacations or other big purchases can harm your case. Evidence used at trial is often gleaned from social media. Do yourself a favor and disable your social media while your divorce is pending.
Try to maintain a positive outlook and don’t let yourself be lured into needless conflicts with your spouse. If you have children, you will have to communicate with your spouse for years to come. Learning how to do so begins in the divorce proceeding. How you communicate with your spouse will have a considerable impact on your children’s emotional development. Avoid engaging in negative conversations and situations you know will be triggering for you. If your spouse engages in negative behaviors and in person conversations tend to spiral into arguments, stick to email or text communications. It slows the pace of potential arguments and can deescalate stressful conversations. It gives you time to consider what you want to say and how best to express it. Stick to reading or sending emails during normal business hours and never press send if you are feeling emotional or angry. In those situations, have a friend or your attorney review the contents first.
Evidence used at trial is often gleaned from social media. Do yourself a favor and disable your social media while your divorce is pending.