Many clients come to me in a highly emotional state of mind, facing an uncertain future and fearing the divorce process. While I am the lawyer and my responsibility is to advise you as to all the possible scenarios and based upon your facts what future impact the decisions you make now will have on you and your family, I am also a sort of counselor “thus the phrase Counselor”. I have put together a few tips to assist you in maneuvering through the ups and downs of your case. Our office works to not only ensure your legal future is handled expertly, but that your emotional future is bright and filled with the excitement and passion you thought you would never experience again.
1. BE PATIENT
You may be tempted to tell me, “I don’t care what it takes, just get this over – – I want out.” That impulse only increases the risk of an inequitable result. Recognize that nothing must be settled immediately. They say time is the great healer and that is true, but it is also a process with stages of grief, anger, denial, acceptance and reconciliation. Prudence, rationality, and logic are the pass words to an acceptable resolution of your case.
Divorce is not a simple matter. Everyone wants to minimize legal fees, and I will work to that end. However, there are some matters that will require financial commitment if you are to be successful in your litigation. For example, many people mistakenly believe that they can appraise real estate or the value of a pension without the assistance of an appraiser or accountant. A conflict over child custody or visitation often requires professional assessment by a clinical psychologist, family therapist, or social worker. Sometimes shortcuts lead to you getting short changed. Your chances of a fair and equitable judgment increase with a thorough investigation.
It is always a better resolution if you and your spouse can reach agreements without the Court intervening. That does not mean that you should leave your lawyer out of the loop. All too often such negotiations result in the more-assertive spouse brow-beating the weaker spouse into submission. The results may be disastrous. At a minimum review all negotiations with your lawyer before you commit to anything. I am trained in the art of legal investigation and negotiation. I will evaluate what the other side can present to the court, and thereby determine the relative strengths of your case. My ability to negotiate effectively on your behalf is a result of my training, objectivity and freedom from intimidation.
4. FALSE PROPHETS
You may receive a great deal of advice during the course of your divorce. Such advice may be well intentioned, however, it may be wrong. You may find that your spouse, for dishonorable motives, will make statements about how the law will affect your case. In reality, it is difficult to predict an exact outcome. Evidence must be presented to a judge, who will enter a decision which is tailored to the facts of your specific case. Different Judges, different cities, different laws play an integral role in how a judge will view your case. What happened yesterday in your friend or relatives’ case or on Oprah or Judge Judy is not likely what will happen in your case. As your attorney, I will provide the legal expertise necessary to protect your rights. I am above the emotional chaos, I know what the law actually states relevant to your particular case, and will champion your rights with a strength that is not depleted by being a party to the divorce. Any “legal advice” offered by friends, relatives, or spouse should never be substituted for the advice which I provide.
5. THE CHILDREN
Children are not immune to the emotional stress of divorce. They will have many questions that should be answered honestly. You may be tempted to try to prove to the children that there is a “good parent” and a “bad parent”. This must be avoided. If you are unable to help your children with the trauma they are experiencing, family therapy may be needed. Brief therapy for yourselves and/or the children may minimize the pain and adjustment for everyone.
6. FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS
Divorce deeply affects the emotions of everyone concerned. While the parents and their children may seek the services of a mental health professional, family members and friends are usually left alone to cope with their feelings about the divorce. Family members are often torn in two directions. They love the “blood-related” spouse, but feel attached to the other spouse as well. Unfortunately, divorce seems to push family members to side with one spouse and denounce the other. Friends may be equally perplexed, and typically believe that they can keep only one spouse as a friend. It is unhealthy and destructive to try to get family members and friends to take sides. It should be remembered that after the divorce, family and friends may wish to have contact with both you and your spouse, but more important if you have children the attitudes of family can have the same if not more negative impact on how your children view you or your spouse.
Your lawyer can help you with many more tips to gently guide you in this process.
Gail Linscott Silva