This may seem obvious, but even if you think you can't afford an attorney you should talk to one. Many attorneys offer free or low-cost consultations, and although it's not as ideal as having an attorney every step of the way, it's a lot better than going in blind. You want to know what you're getting into, and what to look out for in your particular situation. Often people consult an attorney at the end or after the divorce is finalized and realize it's too late. Many couples think they have an easy uncontested divorce, but words like spousal support and pension never come up, and someone loses out in the end. Make sure you know your rights and what you might be entitled to.
If you have children, put their needs first.
Of course divorces are emotional, and can yield a lot of contempt on either side. However, when there are children involved, it's hard enough for them to deal with the divorce without being used as pawns and being placed in the middle, or even being forced to choose sides. Be very conscious of how this process effects your children. Don't use parenting time to gain leverage on child support. Try to remember that unless there is some significant harm that the other parent is going to cause the children, the children will want and need to be around both parents. Don't drag them into your battle.
Don't involve too many people in your divorce.
It may seem comforting to have your new significant other by your side during divorce proceedings, but that may also infuriate your soon-to-be ex. So much so, that he or she may be significantly less willing to negotiate. This can hurt you in the end. The same goes for siblings, parents, and friends, who often only add to the tension with their presence. If your support system is antagonizing your spouse, and they have a lot of heated exchanges in court, it will only make the situation worse. It's great to have a support system, and you definitely don't want to be by yourself in court. Just be mindful of what your friend or family member is bringing to the process - they can often do more harm than good.
Remember that trial isn't for everyone.
There are definitely situations where a trial is warranted, but it's not for everyone. Remember that once you go to trial you put your fate in a strangers hands and take it out of your own. It may feel good to let the judge feel how hurt you were, but that likely won't be a major factor in the judge's decisions. No one knows your family better than you do, and it would be impossible to paint a complete picture of your family dynamic in the course of a few days. While you may get what you WANT from a trial, an angry and bitter ex is no prize. Add to that the fact that trial can take several days, and thousands of dollars in attorney fees, and you may realize it's good idea to roll up your sleeves, sit down, and try to come up with a resolution you and your ex can both live with.
Be mindful of what is most important to you.
After hours of mediating, counseling, arguing, debating, discussing, or whatever you want to call it, you may be frustrated and at your wits end. Suddenly, that microwave you two bought last year seems a lot more important, and you won't want to give it up. Going through a divorce can be emotionally draining, and you don't want to drag it out longer than you need to over trivial things. If your goal is to get joint custody and the vacation home, don't start nitpicking over every minor thing so that you can feel like you "won" something. All too often couples get caught up in the small things because they don't want the other person to get it. If it's something that can easily be replaced, it might be a good idea to let it go so that you can move forward in the right direction, especially if you've gotten your ex to agree to let you have more important things.
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