By: Nick Stevens
1. Be certain that divorce is what you want
Ask yourself if your marriage is truly broken with no chance of saving it; or whether you can salvage the relationship and make your marriage work. Look down the road and consider how it would affect your family unit and kids in the long run. The process of divorce and all the ramifications are emotional and trying on everyone involved. But don’t make an overly emotional decision without giving it thoughtful consideration.
2. Seek Advice
Talk with a competent divorce attorney. It may be necessary to speak with more than one attorney who practices in the family law field. Find an attorney that you have a good rapport with. Make sure you and your attorney are on the same page with regard to your plans, goals, and strategy going forward.
3. Surround yourself with those who can support you
In addition to talking with a divorce attorney, surround yourself with people that can support you through this emotional time. Talk with close friends and those you can confide in who have been down this path. You may be able to learn from their experiences. You also may consider seeking the benefit of professional counseling and therapy.
4. Be reasonable
Act and behave in a reasonable manner and be willing to compromise on issues that you are flexible on. Do not fight and be trivial over every little thing that is not of great importance. Show the judge and the other side that you are willing to compromise and be reasonable in certain situations that allow it.
If divorce is inevitable and if you can be cordial with your spouse, dissolving the marriage will be easier, less stressful, and more cost-effective if both sides can work together and reach an amicable agreement. This can be achieved if both sides are reasonable.
5. Know where you stand financially
Identify all of your marital assets and debts and consider how you would propose to divide those. Know what it takes to live each month and to provide for yourself and your family, and consider how you would do this on one income if you had to. Be cognizant of child support and a potential request or need for alimony, and how this would impact you financially.
6. Let go of the anger and resentment
Once you have given yourself time to heal, don’t hold on to all of the anger and pain of what happened in the past. This is especially true if you have kids. Make them your primary focus. Develop ways to get along and be cordial with your ex, at least for the sake of your children. This will create a healthier environment for everyone involved.
7. Make your kids the number one priority
Most importantly, develop a co-parenting schedule that is truly in your child’s best interest. Consider the bond and relationship your son or daughter shares with the other parent, despite how you may feel about him or her. Children are better served by having both parents actively involved in their life. So create a parenting plan that allows your child to enjoy meaningful time with mom and dad if such a schedule is appropriate in your situation.
1. Do not make a decision to file for divorce out of anger or frustration
Remember to weigh your options and give this decision the thoughtful consideration it needs. Do not file for divorce on a whim.
2. Do not blow through or dissipate marital assets
You will be required to make an accounting of all marital funds and assets. So do not hide money or unnecessarily spend it on things out of the ordinary, and do not transfer or gift marital property while the divorce is pending.
3. Do not remove your spouse from joint accounts or block access to funds
Do not remove your spouse’s name from a joint checking or savings account where he or she is unable to access marital funds. Also, if your spouse uses a credit card for everyday expenses for the family, do not cancel or freeze this card. Do not change the beneficiary status on an insurance policy and do not cancel any existing auto, health, or life insurance policy that may be in effect.
4. Do not live like you are single
Although you may be separated and perhaps a divorce has been filed, remember that you are still legally married. Do not date while the divorce is pending. This would still be adultery and would give your spouse grounds for divorce. If you have kids and want to be the primary custodian or get maximum co-parenting time, be cognizant of who you associate with. Do not go out partying every weekend and do not choose hanging out with your friends over spending time with your kids. You must show that you are serious about being a parent and that you will put your kids first.
5. Don’t jump into new relationships
In addition to the no dating during divorce rule, give yourself time to adjust to life after divorce. If you have children, do not introduce your boyfriend or girlfriend to the kids right away and do not have them stay overnight while the kids are at home. Children also need time to adjust during this phase in their life. Introducing a new fling right away could be troubling for younger children and will likely infuriate your ex, thus possibly leading to more litigation when it could be avoided.
6. Do not post negative remarks about your spouse on social media
Be cautious of your Facebook and Twitter activity. Do not post disparaging remarks about your spouse. Do not flaunt expensive new things you have just bought for yourself when you claim you cannot pay child support or alimony. Also, do not badmouth your ex or speak badly of him or her while the kids are around. Once divorced, parents are expected to foster and encourage a loving relationship between the child and the other parent. This would be impossible to do if you are constantly degrading your ex and badmouthing them.
These topics are just some things to keep in mind if you are considering divorce or if you happen to be in the middle of one. Of course, other issues and concerns may come up or need to be addressed in your particular situation. Nick Stevens, of the Chattanooga office, has counseled and represented many individuals who were contemplating divorce as an option and others who have found themselves forced into this difficult time in their life. A competent divorce attorney can answer questions that you may have and guide you through this emotional process.
For consultation or questions, [email protected] or 423-756-0262
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This blog contains general information about legal matters. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such. Communication of information by, in, to, or through this blog and your receipt or use of it: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship; (2) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice; and (3) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.