1. The judicial system is ill-equipped to assign blame.
People get divorces for a variety of reasons, you may feel your spouse is to blame, however, it is extremely rare for a court to assign fault to one of the spouses. If you want your spouse to take responsibility for his actions or to be labeled the “bad guy,” you will be disappointed. Try not to waste you emotional energy pursuing an outcome that’s not going to happen.
2. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.
When you hear the term ‘professional help’ usually you think of a psychologist or counselor. A divorce can be an extremely trying and emotional event that may last a year or more and a counselor can be extremely helpful in sorting out your feelings and developing coping strategies. But consider other professionals as well. A CPA can help you better understand the tax ramifications of your case and a financial advisor can help understand the options for dividing property in the most advantageous way. There are many other professionals who may be helpful depending on your needs. Talk to your attorney about your concerns and he can point you in the right direction.
3. A bad settlement may be better than a good fight.
Most cases settle out of court by negotiation or mediation. By settling out of court, you have control over the outcome of your case. You can consider your long-term plans, be creative, and do a lot of things that the judge does not have the power to do. When you put your case and your life in the judge’s hands you lose all control. The judge will have mere hours to get to know you, your spouse, your kids, your needs, your hopes, and your goals. Yours is one of more than ten thousand cases assigned to that court, it’s unrealistic to expect a thoughtful and creative decision.
4. Don’t get caught up in the winner’s mentality.
There are no winners or losers in a divorce. There are so many issues that need to be resolved, you shouldn’t worry about how your soon-to-be-ex feels about a particular outcome. It’s easy to think, “Well if I give him what he wants then he’s going to feel like he won.” It’s not about who wins or loses, it’s about whether you can live with the results.
5. There will be emotional highs and lows.
It is key that you learn how to cope with your emotions. Your emotions can cloud your ability to make rational decisions and you need to be able to make sound, informed decisions. Trust your lawyer to give you guidance and help you through the process.
6. Your divorce will be the biggest financial transaction of your life.
No matter the size of your estate, there will likely be no bigger financial transaction in your life than your divorce.
7. The kids may not tell you how they feel, but their behavior will.
Divorce doesn’t screw up kids, their parents do. That’s not to say that divorce isn’t hard on kids. It is. But the impact can be lessened greatly if you are aware that your actions and reactions affect them. Consider the children first in everything you do.
8. Don’t forget that you need each other’s cooperation.
When the divorce is over and the dust settles, you and your ex will be left to rear your kids on your own. There will be no judge and no attorneys so it is imperative that you are able to cooperate and co-parent the kids. Work to build back the trust before, during, and after the divorce.
9. It is always foolish to represent yourself.
If you’re not a lawyer, you don’t know what you’re doing and you are going to screw up your divorce. Then you’ll have to hire me or one of my fellow attorneys to clean up your mess. If you come to us after the divorce is final, there may be nothing that we can to for you. Sure, you can go online and download the “court approved” divorce forms, I’ve seen the forms, they’re terrible. Don’t risk it.
10. Hiring a family law specialist is money well spent.
Hire a lawyer who’s board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Being board certified means the attorney has: a) demonstrated substantial experience in family law; b) has been tested by the TBLS; c) has demonstrated excellence in the area of family law; d) must maintain ongoing continuing education in family law; and e) has undergone an extensive peer review. There are over 90,000 lawyers in the State of Texas, but less than 1% of them are board certified in family law.