Divorce lawyers are typically not shy about telling their clients what to do: “Don’t talk to your spouse.” “Don’t argue in front of the kids.” ” Do what the judge says.” “Make sure to make copies of everything!” Yet, there are also a lot of things most divorce lawyers don’t tell you … but they should! Here are 8 truths most divorce lawyers won’t tell you.
1. Divorce is a Marathon, Not a Sprint. No matter how amicable you might want your divorce to be, you are not going to make it from “I want a divorce,” to holding your divorce judgment in your hand in two weeks … or two months. You may not even make to the finish line in two years. Divorce is a process. Pressuring yourself, and your spouse, to go through the process at lightning speed doesn’t work. It will also make you even more stressed out than you already are.
2. If you are a parent, you had better start getting along with your ex NOW. Study after study shows that what hurts children of divorce the most is conflict. Even if you try to hide your conflict from your kids, children are not stupid. They see, hear, feel, and internalize more than you realize. If you care about your kids, you have to find a way to get along with their other parent, at least on issues that involve your children.
3. If you want to get your divorce done more quickly and more cheaply, you have to talk to your spouse. I know a lot of lawyers counsel their clients not to talk to their spouses during a divorce. If talking to your spouse inevitably results in a fight, then not talking to your spouse might make sense. But, the fact still remains that if you and your sopuse can have a productive, civilized conversation about your divorce, you will probably be able to resolve your issues faster and more economically than you will if you go through your lawyers for everything.
4. You are not going to get a chance to tell your story to the judge. Ever. Even if you go to trial, there are strict rules about how and what evidence is presented. So, you are never going to be able to just tell the judge your story the way you want to tell it. If telling your story is important to you, find a good therapist and tell your story to him/her. (Sorry. I don’t mean to be harsh. But this is the truth, and there is no way to sugar-coat it.)
5. Divorce isn’t fair. Neither is life. You can complain about it. You can fight it. You can get depressed about it. None of that changes it. If you want to get over it, at some point you have to accept that divorce happens, accept that it was a part of your life, make your peace with that and move on. Or not. But staying angry or choosing to be a victim for the rest of your life also doesn’t change anything. And it feels really bad.
6. The law doesn’t always make sense. Divorce laws are written to apply to everyone. So, in some cases the law makes sense, and in other cases the law seems ridiculous. Yet the same law has to be applied to everyone. That may not be fair, but that’s the way divorce rolls.
7. Your case doesn’t end when your divorce judgment is entered. Most people believe that once they are divorced they are done. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you have children with your spouse, if you are paying or receiving spousal support, or if you and your spouse still have to physically divide things up after the divorce, you are not done. What lawyers also don’t tell you is that a significant percentage of the divorce cases that are being fought about in court involve issues that arose after the parties got divorced.
8. What goes around comes around, so don’t be a jerk. Some people call it karma. Others call it justice, or God’s law, or the law of the Universe. Whatever you call it, the bottom line is this: what you do will come back to you. I have seen it happen over and over again. One party in a divorce tries to game the system, or cheat their spouse, only to have their actions come back and bite them later in a really big way. Maybe it happens in the divorce case. Maybe it happens with the IRS. Maybe it happens with their kids. Maybe you never know how it happens. But it happens. So, take the high road. …That’s another thing that your lawyer might not tell you. But if you do it, you won’t be sorry you did.