by Nancy A. Taylor, Esq. Hargreaves & Taylor, LLP
California State Bar Certified Family Law Specialist
Member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
As soon as your friends and family find out you have filed for divorce, the first thing they will want to do is tell you their horror stories and/or how you and your attorney should be handling your case. They mean well, but the problem with their divorce stories is this: every case is different. You can’t expect to have the same outcome they experienced.
Based on years of working with divorcing couples with no two of them alike, there are a few things divorces have in common.
- Trust that what your attorney is telling you is more than likely closer to the reality you will experience.
- As much as you might want to discuss your case in detail with those who love you, these conversations may result in your second guessing yourself and the advice of your counsel.
- Going through a divorce is not something you want to handle on your own. It can become one of the most difficult journeys of your life. Instead of seeking advice from friends or using your attorney as a therapist, seek the advice of a mental health professional who is trained to assist you in this situation. It will cost you a lot less in the long run.
- There are NO stupid questions! Experiencing anxiety is not uncommon and can easily be caused by the unknown. Always ask questions of your attorney so that you know what to expect. The more you know, the less anxious you will become.
- If you have children it can be best for them to learn about your divorce together as a family. Go to a family therapist with your spouse to discuss the best way to address the divorce process with your children.
- Recognize the process will not be resolved overnight. It takes a minimum of six months at the earliest to become divorced. The six month time clock starts ticking once your spouse has been served with the Summons and Petition for Dissolution.
- Getting divorced takes work and just doesn’t magically happen. In order to be divorced at the end of the six month period, you and your spouse must have either entered into a full written agreement or have gone to trial, with your Judgment of Dissolution having been filed.
- The best way to work with your attorney is to be as organized as possible. The more thorough you can be in providing them with the information they request, the more time and cost effective for you. Handing over a pile of papers, expecting your attorney to go through and organize it can be costly and a waste of your hard-earned money.
One well-tested way to avoid many of these conflicts and pitfalls is to proceed with a Collaborative Divorce. In the Collaborative Divorce process, each spouse will have an attorney guide him or her through the legal process; a coach/child specialist to help guide them emotionally; and a neutral financial specialist to gather, organize and prepare a report outlining the marital estate. It is an enlightened process that will allow for every one’s Happily Ever After, even if that means not living together under the same roof.