Divorce is a messy business, particularly in a contested divorce with litigating attorneys.
Both sides are hurt and angry. They feel wronged and can’t believe how the other side is behaving. Sometimes the children become collateral damage which makes it even more heartbreaking. In the midst of all these emotions, you are facing really tough decisions about your finances and your family.
As upstanding citizens, we believe the system will find a way to makes things right for us. Unfortunately, it’s not always the case.
Assumption #1: I will get what I deserve!
What does that mean? What do you deserve? Should you get all the assets because your spouse cheated? Should you get full custody of the children because you are a stay-at-home parent? Should you keep the house because your kids live in it? What you believe you deserve and what your spouse believes are going to be different. Getting stuck on what you deserve causes you to lose sight of things. You’ll end up digging your heels in and forcing the process to take longer and cost more than it should. I’m not saying let your spouse take it all but I do think you need to really figure out what exactly you need, not what you deserve.
Assumption #2: The judge will understand and give me justice!
Let’s be realistic here for a moment. Judges dockets are backlogged. They are constantly being bombarded with demands and motions and attorneys and making a government salary. They are tasked with interpreting the laws and applying it to your life. That’s it! They are making decisions based on what they see in front of them, not on how your spouse behaved for the last 20 years. Judges don’t really like deciding how your kids should live or what you should be allowed to spend. They are trying to get you through the system as expeditiously as possible. They’ve heard it all, the cheating spouse, the absent parent, the spend drift spouse. They are not going to take your side. The less time you spend having a judge decide your issues, the better your outcome will be.
Assumption #3: The process will be short.
In the best of cases, a mediated, uncontested divorce with no kids, this is a possibility. In all others, it’s not (unless 2 years is short for you). Between negotiating the Parenting Agreement and figuring out the financials and then agreeing on the math, the likelihood of a quick divorce process is low. You can help it along by being reasonable and trying to negotiate fairly. Beyond that, divorce goes as slow as the slowest person.
As hard as it may be, leave your anger outside the negotiations. Get a therapist or coach to help you process your emotions. Ask your attorney about how litigation actually works. You’ll be very enlightened. Don’t get caught in the traps that will cause your divorce to drag on for a very long time, cost thousands of dollars and prolong the agony of the divorce process.
Join me June 5th at 6pm in NYC for The Divorce Process: What you need to know to get through it