When Advice Hurts, Not Helps During a Divorce

by Mel Mackler, MA, LMFT
Coaching and Education for an Emotionally Healthy Divorce

In the face of adversity, we all can use support and, sometimes, advice from friends and family that we trust and are close to us.  These two camps are always ready to come to our aid and defense when we are in stress or in anxiety.  This can be especially true when someone is going through a family break-up due to a divorce.

Divorce anxiety can fuel a sense of being in danger.  We are apt to scurry to an attorney for safety and protection before we understand the kind of divorce process the attorney practices, and before we understand which form of divorce process suits our family best.  There is a second area of vulnerability you need to be alert to: accepting advice and information from friends and family.

While emotional support and a good ear to vent into are two worthwhile supports to anyone going through adversity, it is important to be aware that advice coming from friends and family members who love us is going to be biased.  These people want to give us their best, but often give advice that is not in our family’s best interest.  Loved ones want to back us up, give us strength to fight back and to protect our children and our family’s assets.  Your fear can fuel their anxiety, and that can lead to impulsive and protective advice from your loved ones—advice that isn’t necessarily helpful.

Friends and family often do not clearly understand the method of divorce being used to achieve a cooperative settlement.  Many people have not heard of a collaborative divorce.  To many people, divorce is simply divorce—a confrontive process that puts one party at the advantage of the other. They will not understand that you have made a decision to work cooperatively with your spouse or partner and to minimize dissension.

If your decision has been to work cooperatively with your spouse or partner, then the advice from your supporters might cause you to move in a direction opposite from your goal.  Yet, in a moment of anger or anguish, it isn’t unusual for someone to grasp the advice he or she received and follow through.

It’s at these times that you should caution yourself.  Contact your attorney, your divorce coach or your therapist.  Discuss your fears, and the advice that your support team gave you.  Ask one of your professionals for his or her advice about following through with the suggestions your support team has made.  While this consultation may cost you a few dollars, it may save you a great deal more if the advice from your friends is inappropriate to your goals for your divorce.

It’s always so easy to react; and sometimes you’re going to feel it is imperative to react immediately.  Taking several deep breaths, then using your brain and your professional team before you decide what to do can be far more beneficial for the long haul.  Play it smart, not impulsively.

Collaborative Divorce Discussed in new National Law Review Article

Collaborative divorce enjoyed visibility in this well-written article posted this month on the National Law Review website.

The article, titled “Do I Litigate, Mediate, or Collaborate on my Divorce?” is written by Richard A. Gray, a Virginia-based attorney. It offers a very basic overview explanation of the three approaches to divorce.

Members of the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego can provide you a more detailed, personalized discussion and answer your questions about the advantages of the Collaborative Divorce process. In the face of well-publicized Family Court budget cutbacks, more individuals and couples are exploring this option.

Visit the Contact Us page on our website, or call the Collaborative Family Law Group of San Diego at 858-472-4022.

Read the article here.

Four Tips for Making Divorce Easier on You and Your Family

by Myra Chack Fleischer, CLF-S, Fleischer & Associates

Making the decision to get divorced is never easy. If you have been there, done that, no matter when you file you know it can be consuming and is usually the result of a thought processing lasting weeks, months, even years. If there are children involved, it is even more gut wrenching.

This is why our group so strongly recommends the collaborative divorce process to mitigate the impact to your children and your family as a whole.

But once you have crossed that bridge in your mind, heart and soul, now is the time to be ruthlessly practical. Even if you choose collaborative divorce, you must also prepare yourself and your children. This is not selfish. This is healthy, this is smart and this is in your long-term best interests.

It is natural to feel overwhelmed, and there is a lot to do. As a family law attorney with experience representing hundred and hundreds of divorcing clients, there are some priorities you need to address BEFORE you break the bad news, hire an attorney, file any paperwork, or decide to avoid the court system entirely. This advice applies equally to men and women, straight or gay.

Gavel and Wedding Rings

  •  Make sure you get copies of all your financial records.

This includes bank statements, investment and retirement accounts, credit cards, loans and any other debts. You will also be able to quickly tell and later prove if there are significant changes or movement of assets, and this may help you make the decision about whether collaborative divorce is right for you.

  • Make sure you have a source of funds if you do not work outside the home.

Create a financial strategy with your attorney or a divorce financial planner before any formal filing for divorce.

  • Make sure you disclose anything damaging about you and your situation to your attorney.

The last person you want to be blindsided by any misbehavior or skeletons in your closet is your attorney. He or she cannot help you to mitigate the impact if he or she knows nothing about it. Sure, it can be some embarrassing stuff to admit to extramarital affairs, criminal acts, struggles with your physical or mental health, or tweeting racy photos.

But believe me, divorce attorneys, divorce financial planners and divorce coaches have heard it all and then some. We are not shockable, and we will not think less of you. Professionals involved with divorce proceedings are committed to confidentiality. Most of it can be handled. It’s entirely possible that by getting these issues acknowledged and out of the way, the healing process can begin and a collaborative divorce may be possible. But if not, it’s better to learn this early in the divorce process.

  • Listen to professional advice.

If your attorney, divorce financial planner or divorce coach tells you something or asks you to do something, there is a reason for it. Usually it is to protect your interests and make things easier (and maybe less costly) for you and your family in the long run. We know how to engage the legal system to your best advantage, and we have plenty of experience that tells us what works and what does not work. Don’t ruin the good counsel you are getting by ignoring it.

 

 

A divorce lawyer’s 7 Valentine’s Day tips for a happy marriage

Other than Cupid, there’s no one better qualified to give advice on love and marriage than a divorce attorney. After being involved in hundreds of divorce proceedings, there are certain failings in common that might not seem so obvious. Sure, there is infidelity, and there is abuse. But many marriages end for reasons that are preventable.

How can a couple guard against seeing their marriage become just another unfortunate statistic? Just in time for Valentine’s Day, read CFLGSD member attorney Myra Chack Fleischer’s column for Communities Digital News with her seven tips for a lasting, happy marriage.