Divorce – New Reality, New Rules
You always remember your wedding; it was your special day. All of your buddies and/or girlfriends were there, and you partied the weekend before to say goodbye to your single life and hello to the future. Your friend gave that great speech about how “you were an amazing person and always there for her,” and you all cried but looked triumphantly toward the new exciting life that awaited you.
You truly worked at your marriage, gave it many chances to succeed, sought help to save it, but after a while, you got that unmistakable feeling that it just wasn’t going to work. Now you need to put your emotions aside and consider the following new rules of divorce.
Control Your Emotions
While amicable divorce sounds like a contradiction in terms, it doesn’t have to be. You were touchy-feely at your wedding. A divorce, however, has no room for emotion. The sooner you and your spouse can look at the process as a business deal, the greater the chance that you will find an amicable solution.
Don’t Make Rash Decisions
OK, so your wife left her cell phone in the bedroom and went to the grocery store, an unmistakable text appeared from some guy, and the language that you saw was more than worrisome—it was obvious that she was hooking up with someone else.
Sure, your first inclination might be, “I need to see a divorce lawyer near me right now,” but sometimes you have to wait and analyze the situation. A good spousal support attorney will tell you to carefully think about the consequences of divorce for you, your spouse, your kids, your parents, your co-workers and your job or business.
Be very careful here and take some time to weigh your options. Don’t jump into the divorce process. It may not be a bad idea, however, to find a divorce lawyer so that you can talk to counsel when you need to.
One preliminary step you can take is mediation. If you and your spouse agree that you have a problem and you want to fix it, sometimes an impartial third party can actually help. If you’re dragging your partner to the mediator’s office, maybe you won’t obtain a great result, but it can certainly be cheaper to go through mediation first instead of filing for divorce.
If You’re There
If you’ve thought the situation through, mediation hasn’t helped, and you’re ready to end this stressful life chapter and move on, then maybe it’s time to take action. Google “family divorce lawyer near me” and make an appointment. Among many other considerations, you will have to think about and/or act on these:
- Understand who owes what. Are you in a family property state? Are you responsible for your spouse’s obligations? Which bills are out there and who should pay what?
- If there is a small business involved, there may be money hiding in a number of places. Sometimes you may need to hire a forensic accountant to find out where these funds are.
- Dividing property is complicated, and sometimes the date of separation determines the value. For example, you file for divorce on March first and your wife gets lucky and unexpectedly sells her company for $10 million on March 15th. If her company was worth a lot less on that date of separation, you could get a lot less.
- Remember to consider health insurance. Getting stuck with a COBRA plan can be a nightmare.
- Understand standard visitation. In some states, standard visitation rules apply until a child reaches a certain age. Don’t think you can just make any deal, as a judge must sign-off first, and the duty of the judge is to first protect the minor children.
What Your Divorce Decree Does and Doesn’t Do
Sometimes parties to a divorce think that the divorce decree they have—which is a court order—is somehow automatically enforced, and this isn’t exactly true. A comparison to another type of law, like trademark law, may help you understand your divorce decree.
If a person or company registers a trademark, they are then allowed to sue in federal court if they feel someone has infringed upon it. The injured party can’t walk over to the infringer’s place of business and legally order them to quit using their trademark; there is a legal process they must initiate first.
If you have a well-written divorce decree with well-defined visitation parameters included, your remedy if your spouse breaches the agreement may not be exactly what you think it is. A client called her Napa divorce lawyer and was upset because her spouse refused to return her child after visitation time was over. She called the police and told them she had a court order, but the police refused to do anything because they said it was a civil matter.
The client’s original divorce attorney had spoken in general terms and when the client had asked, “What happens if my ex doesn’t return my kid?” The response was, “He can’t do that.” Well, he shouldn’t do that but if the police won’t help, the remedy may be to return to court. That isn’t something that happens instantly. The moral to this story is: make sure you understand your legal rights and how they can be enforced.
Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
Remember, divorce is an emotionally charged process, and you need to mentally and physically prepare. Start documenting key items early, and get qualified legal help when the time is right.