If one of our attorneys had to give
divorce advice to our best friend or to one of our relatives, what would we say?
As a divorce firm that has represented countless clients throughout the
divorce process, we’ve given our share of divorce advice. But what
is the best advice we can give? If our brother or sister or best friend
was getting a divorce, what would we say to them? What would we advise
if we only had 10 minutes to pass along some wisdom?
As we considered the question, we realized that some advice is better than
the rest. Meaning, some advice is more important than other advice. So,
if we were sitting across from a dinner table from you, and we only had
a short period of time to pass some information along, this is what we
would tell you.
1. Make sure you’re certain it’s over before you file for divorce.
Are you 100% sure the marriage is over? It’s not uncommon for couples to mention or even threaten divorces
in heated arguments, but it’s not really what they want. Once a
spouse takes the steps to get a divorce, they’ve almost reached
a point of no return.
Of course, it’s possible to halt the divorce proceeding, but filing
for divorce sends a strong message that you’re “done”
with the marriage, and it may change things forever in your spouse’s
mind. Before you cross the line and file for divorce, make sure you’re
certain that a divorce is what you want.
2. Start seeing a therapist.
Divorce is almost guaranteed to affect you emotionally and physically.
If you lose your appetite, develop insomnia, feel nauseous or weak, have
trouble concentrating at work and almost feel like you have the flu but
you don’t – that’s all normal. In other words, divorce
can be the absolute, best decision you can make right now, but it can
also make you a train wreck for a while. Our advice is to get a therapist
now. You need a professional who you can talk to, someone who can act
as a sounding board and help you deal with the flood of emotions, so you
can think clearly during the divorce process.
3. Get educated on California’s divorce laws.
One of the problems with divorce is people don’t have much, if any,
knowledge of their rights and responsibilities under California’s
divorce laws. Since knowledge is power, spouses can alleviate a lot of
their fears of the unknown by familiarizing themselves with California’s
divorce laws and procedures.
You can certainly ask your attorney questions, but you can also visit the
website and educate you on the state’s divorce laws so you have a firm grasp
of what you’re getting into.
4. Put the kids first above all else.
Each family’s situation is different, so how you put the kids first
will depend on a number of factors, such as their age, and their relationship
with you and your spouse, etc. For example, if your kids are going through
a hard time, don’t leave them with a sitter so you can hit the bars
with your single friends. Instead, use your off-work hours to focus on
your children, not meeting new people to get your mind off the divorce.
If you need some adult time, schedule it for when your children are with
the other parent or at a friend’s house.
As you create a Parenting Plan, think about the arrangement that would
be in your children’s best interests. For example, you
may want to relocate to get away from your ex, but is that best for your children? Would it
be better for them if you lived close by? Or, would it be better to keep
things as stable as possible instead of uprooting them?
On the other hand, perhaps a move would be in their best interests as long
as you get the family court’s approval. Regardless, it’s important
that the decisions you make from now going forward have your children’s
best interests in mind.
5. Figure out what you want.
One mistake that people make is letting their spouse get whatever they
want in the divorce. Our advice is to think about what you want out of
the divorce. What are your goals? If you have children, this is something
that you need to put some thought into.
It may be overwhelming, but you need to put in some time and effort into
thinking about your goals, and then you need to create a plan to get it.
Knowing your goals doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get everything
you want, but it does create a roadmap, a starting place so you can negotiate
until you reach a fair and reasonable agreement.
6. Explore all of your alternatives.
Before you file for divorce, ask yourself, “How do I want to divorce?”
If at all possible, it’s best to avoid an adversarial divorce. If
you approach your divorce with a lot of spite, you could be setting yourself
up for a costly litigated divorce that drags on for months, if not longer.
Consider a divorce mediation or a collaborative divorce – try to
settle your case amicably, out of court. Our advice is to ask us about the
alternative divorce methods at your disposal before considering divorce litigation.
7. Negotiate with your spouse.
Hourly attorney fees can add up, and the court system is known for being
slow. You may dislike or even despise your spouse. Perhaps he or she was
unfaithful and you are uncomfortable being in the same room with them. Regardless
if you like or agree with your spouse or not, the more you are able to
talk and hammer out a fair divorce settlement, the quicker and cheaper
your divorce is going to be. Not only that but when you can drive down
divorce costs, the more of the marital estate you’ll be able to preserve.
7 Tips for Negotiating a Divorce Settlement
To schedule a free case evaluation with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer,
contact Claery & Hammond, LLP today.