Just about every one of my clients has begun our first meeting with some version of “I want this to be done as quickly as possible.” Naturally, we want the pain to stop and clients believe that by completing the divorce process quickly, they can put it behind them. Unfortunately, beginning the process with an expectation of it ending swiftly is an illusion.
The divorce process goes as slow as the slowest person. If your spouse doesn’t want to disclose his or her financials, or really doesn’t want the divorce to begin with, they will do everything in their power to slow things down. The court system doesn’t help much either. With overloaded dockets and unreasonable litigants, once you involve the courts, the delays are inevitable.
With regards to emotions, pain, anger, fear, hastily signing an agreement isn’t going to make those emotions go away either. I’m sorry to paint such a grim picture, however, there are ways to face your divorce that will reduce the pain and allow the process to flow a little bit better.
1. Manage your expectations. Begin with the knowledge that this will likely take longer, and cost more than you imagined. You can only control your end of the process. Your spouse has his or her own ideas of how it should go-or not go as the case may be.
2. Be as prepared as you can be. Organize whatever you can before you provide it to your attorney. Why pay an attorney $500 an hour to make sense of your documents? This will also help you get clear on the information for any potential depositions.
3. Provide what is asked in a timely fashion. If your attorney is asking for a Statement of Net Worth and documents for discovery, do your best to get then to him/her as soon as you can.
4. Appear reasonable and as clear headed as you can, particularly in court. Judges frown upon hysterical, angry people out to get their spouse. Work with a mental health professional or a divorce coach to help you process your feelings, particularly right before you have an important meeting either with your attorney or in court.
This will be a very uncertain time with many moving parts, a little planning can go a long way.