Realize there are no winners in divorce
Divorce is painful, expensive, and hard on your children. We encourage you to try everything to salvage your relationship; marriage counseling, faith based counseling, forgiveness, interventions, etc. We will do everything we can to assist you in finding resources to reconcile. Divorce should be your last option, and after you talk with an attorney, the chances of restoring your relationship will decrease.
Be upfront with your attorney, because we will tell you the truth
Tell us your goals from the outset. Give us all the information and fully complete our divorce worksheet. Often, family attorneys "fire up" their clients and exploit an already emotional issue with discussions of "what you deserve" or "what you can get." This is not how we handle our family clients. We will give you clear expectations and cost/benefit analysis, both emotional and financial. The last thing you want is for your attorney to bill out thousands of dollars in fees when you could take that money to spend it on your children's college education.
Talk to your spouse
The more you can work out with your spouse, the better. This is especially important child custody. Remember that you will have to deal with your spouse until your child turns 18; the better the relationship, the better off your kids will be.
Hire an attorney who you can trust
It is extremely important that you hire an attorney with whom you are comfortable, who you feel as you can trust, and who you can have ease of access via telephone or email contact. We encourage our clients to have regular phone or email contact with our office.
Mediation is a process whereby parties use a neutral person to try to reach an agreement. Mediation has a very high success rate and allows spouses to dictate their own agreement without having a Judge reach an agreement with which neither party may be satisfied. So many people think the judge will issue "justice," that the judge wants to hear their life story, or that the judge will have some great insight to the client's problem. The reality is that the judge is going to hear 1-2 hours of your life story, and then make a snap decision based on what the lawyers have presented. Sometimes the judges get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. Be smart; take decisions involving out of the court's hands and put it in yours; be open to resolving your case without court intervention.
Involve a CPA
Tax consequences of your divorce can be devastating or beneficial. We can recommend a CPA or CFP to minimize tax consequences.
Help Your Kids Cope
Take a family stabilization course, like Do It for the Kids or Kids First.
Help you Cope
We recommend divorce recovery groups, such as Divorce Care.
Don't destroy your spouse
This can't be an option. I approach divorce as sterile in nature; to be surgical in our requests, determine the issues, and 'get in-get out.' Lawyers have a job to do, and that is to guide you through divorce, not to settle your personal vendetta, especially when there are children involved. Remember, you'll have to deal with your spouse until your youngest child turns 18!
Realize what is worth fighting for
Fighting over the couch is silly; fighting over who has custody of the children after domestic violence has occurred is not. Define your goals and ask the attorney if they are obtainable, how much it will cost financially to obtain them, and what the emotional toll will be on the family unit in litigating the matter.
Remember, there are no winners in divorce. The lawyer's job is to guide you through the process, making it as easy on all parties as possible; and if the courtroom is required, then providing you with the highest quality trial work to advocate your interests.