08 Jan Simplify Your Divorce
Over 95% of all divorce cases settle before trial, so consider mediation instead of taking an adversarial position. If mediation is not for you, there are other options – such as collaborative divorce or arbitration.
Before you file, think about you what you want the ultimate outcome to be. The best decisions on whether to file, how to choose an attorney, etc. can be made only after you know where you want to be when it is over. Set your intentions by writing a mission statement. Outline your priorities for when your divorce is over. For example, if your #1 priority is your children, make sure your decisions and actions are truly in their best interests.
If you choose to represent yourself, find out what forms you need, costs, etc. Consider paying for an attorney consultation to discuss any special issues, or to review your settlement. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact your local Legal Aid office.
Do your homework. Speak to qualified professionals (accountants, financial planners, therapists) and figure out what is best for you. Don’t rush to any decisions. Remember, it took time to get to this place, so don’t expect everything to be solved in 5 minutes. A reasonable and fair divorce settlement takes time to negotiate, and you have to live with the decisions you make. If the amount of money you are fighting over won’t matter in 3 years, it probably does not matter now. So let it go. Ask yourself this question: will it really change your life.
Be organized. Use your professionals wisely. Legal questions are for your lawyer; emotional and psychological questions are for your therapist or counselor. Write your questions down. Keep a folder so your papers and documents stay organized all in one place.
If your goal is “to tell the judge my story” remember that the court system is overcrowded and judges are pressured to move cases through the system quickly. You may get very little time to testify, if at all, and if you do testify, the judge will be making a decision that affects the rest of your life. Do you really want that?
Take time for yourself, to assess your actions and goals. It is easy to get caught up in the stress of the situation. Your divorce will not go on forever; there is an end. Things will get better and even if it does not seem so now, for every door that closes, a new one opens.