Things to consider before divorcing your spouse forever.
DIVORCE: A single word shattering the strongest of hearts. Are you headed that way?
Before embarking on one of the most stressful events of your life (According to the Holmes and Rahe stress scale, divorce ranks ABOVE death of family member in terms of stress), SEEK COUNSELING. Both couples and individual. Several problems leading to divorce are caused by personal issues deep rooted in your childhood. You owe your marriage, your spouse, and your children your wholehearted attempt at resolving any issues prior to filing for divorce.
If after counseling and working hard on your marriage, your differences are still irreconcilable, here are some tips from a longtime divorce attorney – me.
- Seek good help. If I had ovarian cancer, I would research not just an oncologist, but a gynecological oncologist in my town. I would avoid general family doctors. Same with your divorce. Do not hire a general purpose lawyer who defends criminals, processes immigration papers, or prosecutes sexual harassment lawsuits. Find a Certified Family Law Specialist. Yes, they will charge more – they have earned it and you get what you pay for.
- Delete all social media accounts. Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and all that jazz. (You can keep Linked In if you promise you won’t post anything personal). You are about to embark on DIVORCE, a process worse than death. Posting your feelings and emotions, hatred or crazy escapades can expose you to extremely negative consequences, especially if you are caught in a custody battle. In addition, spying former spouses have been known to use social media to stalk and harass. Deactivate all accounts temporarily.
- Open a new bank account. That’s right, you are allowed. Once you are officially “separated” (read my article here about what defines separation in California), you can and should keep all financial ins and outs separate and easy. Unless you are the “out-spouse” – in which case, if may pay to draw out the process and not clearly define a date of separation.
- Create a new email address, private and un-hack-able. Do not use your old email. If you are living with your spouse, do not leave your browser open while on your computer. These days, the preferred mode of communication is emails, especially with your lawyer, so it would behoove you to keep them privileged and private.
- Take out your prenup. Remember when you came to my office to sign your prenup on that happy day? I had advised you to keep it in separate locations. Yes, and this is why! We don’t want that important document going “missing” when we most need it, especially if you are the supporting spouse!!
- Learn money. I know. Going through a divorce is probably not the best time to pick up money knowledge. I always recommend that you have a clue about money before, during and after marriage. But if know nothing about your money situation, get a clue now! Keep those bank statements, pay stubs, credit card statements. Figure out how much everything is costing you. Set a budget. Go to the library or hire a financial advisor. I know some very good ones.
- Have children? Sit down and discuss how you will tell them TOGETHER. Divorce is the single worst thing that can happen to a child, especially an unprepared child. There are several VERY good books out there which help you go through this together. I highly recommend reading The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, by Judy Wallerstein. Children are often ignored and neglected during a divorce. If you have children and you are going through a divorce, PUT THEM first. High conflict divorces absolutely destroys children. Please, please – educate yourself and devour every single book out there on parenting and divorce. Children are not property. Seek help creating a parenting plan that will enable you to co-parent peacefully as soon as possible.
- Plan your future. If you are the spouse being left behind, divorce sucks to infinity. However, holding onto an angry past and trying to “make him/her pay”, is like drinking poison expecting him/her to die. It is completely understandable that you want revenge. I don’t blame you, some people are serious assholes who karma needs to visit! But read my post here – divorce courts are not in the punishment business. You will not get what you are seeking in divorce court. You will not fare better if you drag out this process. Start looking to move on – find a new place to live, get a new haircut, join a support group. Your book of life has started a new chapter.
- Budget, budget, budget. Divorce teaches you a lot of things – like fractions. You will not be richer after your divorce, contrary to all the divorce Barbie jokes. No. You will get HALF of all former community property. HALF. 50%. 1/2. In the board game Life, if you get a divorce, you go bankrupt. It will be hard to set a new budget – adjusting is tough. But you will get by if you have a plan and a budget.
- Think good thoughts. Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think about such things. “Thoughts have wings” – Jewish proverb. Divorce is bad enough. Empty your mind of nasty and evil thoughts.
I wish you the best out there. Remember, like all things, this too shall pass.