An update of one of my more popular posts, enjoy!
5 BIG DIVORCE MISTAKES
As a divorce lawyer I get to see good people at their worst, and I get to see a lot of the mistakes that they make during this very difficult time in the life. While divorce lawyers will talk to them about these mistakes and try tell them that they can cost people thousands of dollars, custody of their kids, sometimes their sanity, often times the clients just won’t listen. The biggest mistakes I see as a divorce lawyer are also some of the easiest to avoid. I often tell people that Divorce law isn’t rocket science, it really isn’t but sometimes in the heat of the case the client just won’t listen. In order not to be that client I’ve listed some of the biggest mistakes below, they are in no particular order of importance.
1) Hating Your Spouse.
This gets you nowhere. Well, actually I take that back it will help your lawyer either pay off her student loans or buy that new car he’s had his eye on. I understand that I am on this side of the table when I say this, it can be hard, very hard to suppress these feelings. I’m not saying don’t be mad at them, you might well be hurt or angry or betrayed, but when I see a client who calls her Ex “Judas” and only “Judas” after nearly three years of legal battling, I see a client who is not going to recover from the divorce well.
As they say the best revenge is good living and it is even more true in divorce court. So, bury your feelings, go to individual counseling, do whatever it takes, but don’t openly hate your spouse, having that attitude will permeate during the course of the case and the Judge will see this hostility which can (and often will) end in the Judge thinking you are the unreasonable one.
2) Keep Talking About “Fairness”.
If you want fair go to Roseville for the Great Minnesota Get Together, (aka the State Fair) don’t whine about fairness to your lawyer, your ex, or the judge. I can promise you, not a single one of them cares what you think is fair. Wait, what? Are you saying that my own lawyer doesn’t care what is fair? That is exactly what I’m saying. The reason is the law is not built on fairness but is built on laws and your lawyer should be looking at what you want and what he or she thinks the law will give you.
What really matters, is can you get what you want? Can your lawyer negotiate something that you can live with? Can your lawyer win at trial? Fairness, justice, equality, are all subjective items that no two people can agree on and I can promise you that what you think is fair is not what your soon to be ex thinks is fair.
3) Talk To Your Young Children Like They Are 25 Years Old.
For God’s sake, this is so obvious and so often ignored. While I’m not a psychologist and aside from my Freshman Psych class at Moorhead State I took back in the 90’s, I can tell you that talking to your 7-year-old about the divorce and explaining what a lying, cheating SOB his father is, isn’t good for him. Most Judges will issue an order barring both parties from talking about the case with the children.
I can’t tell you how many times I hear stories of young kids, say 9, 8 or even 5 years old who get sat down on the couch and told about the family finances, infidelities of other parents and generally just get the crap scared out of them. If you want to do this, I suggest you ask yourself “Are you doing this for yourself or for the kids?” usually it’s the former.
4) Ignore Your Divorce Lawyers Telephone Calls.
My favorite, truly my favorite. While we divorce lawyers understand that you are paying when we call you, divorce lawyers don’t usually call for no reason. We need an answer, authority, approval of a document, something that we cannot do ourselves and we need to talk to you.
Nothing says I don’t give a crap about my case, my life, my kids, my money than not returning calls, missing appointments, ignoring advice etc. Understand that your lawyer is not your babysitter and the usual feeling is that if you don’t care about your case…Your divorce lawyer is not going to either and you’ll soon be without a lawyer or at the very least have a lawyer who doesn’t care about these incredibly important things.
5) Don’t Have A Plan.
I know, I know I say this all the time! But it’s that important. You need to have a plan, for life, for the kids, for your job because if you don’t you are simply a rudderless ship that will go wherever the wind and the whims of the day take you.
Let me explain a little more why not having a plan is a problem. Say you are several months into the divorce and are sitting at the mediation table. You’ve spent 7 hours in mediation and it is getting late. The mediator says “Your ex’s last and final offer is $750 per month in spousal maintenance can you live with that?” If you don’t have a plan (and a budget, a part of the plan) your answer must be “I don’t know”. The time to decide if you can live with that amount is not 5:30 at them mediation, it is weeks before based upon what you plan to do with the rest of your life.
Well that’s it, I hope you got a few helpful tips from this blog, keep posted for next weeks update and until then if you have any questions please post them below in the comment section and I’ll try and answer them. If you are looking to hire an attorney please email me (using the contact form on the right).
Rosengren, Kohlmeyer & Hagen, Law Office