Divorce is a life-changing event. The breakup of a marriage has economic, emotional, and psychological consequences. Often, parties start a divorce blindly without considering or understanding the impact divorce will have on their lives. Before consulting with a New York divorce attorney, you should know these seven facts about divorce:
1. There is no winning at divorce.
In most divorces, there are no real winners. No one walks away from a divorce settlement completely happy.
Whether negotiating or litigating the issues present in most divorces (equitably distributing marital assets, determining maintenance and child support payments, establishing child custody, or fixing parenting-time for the children), there has to be some give and take. Generally, each party should prevail on some issues and be compelled to compromise on others.
Winning at divorce is an allusion. Even if you prevail at trial because of the costs of litigation, both economic and emotional, your win may only be a pyrrhic victory. Even if you prevail at trial, the only the real winner will be your divorce attorney by virtue of your large legal bill.
2. Real-life divorce is not like a television courtroom drama.
On TV, most legal disputes and courtroom battles are completely resolved within an hour episode. While we can negotiate divorce settlement relatively quickly, a contested divorce commonly takes upwards of a year to be heard and decided. In fact, at present, some New York courts are taking almost a year just to process fully resolved and settled divorce cases. In short, there is no immediate gratification from filing for divorce.
3. Rely on your divorce attorney and other trusted advisors; discount the advice of everyone else.
While going through your divorce, you will come into contact with other people who have been divorced or are going through one. Invariably, they will all freely offer their opinion about what you should do in your divorce case. But, to quote the adage, “free advice is usually worth what you paid for it.”
Every divorce is controlled by its own set of unique facts. Having practiced divorce and family law for over 35 years, I have yet to handle two cases where all the facts are the same. Because your friend did something in their case does not mean it would be appropriate for you to do it in your case.
Instead of relying on the free advice of your friends and family, rely on your experienced divorce attorney and your other trusted advisor for guidance through the divorce process.
4. Don’t litigate through your children.
Your children will likely feel a mix of emotions, including sadness, rejection, guilt, and even anger. Under no circumstances should you enmesh the children in your divorce litigation or, worse yet, try to sway them to your side.
Remember, you are getting divorced; your children are not. In most cases, except those involving domestic violence, children should be able to continue their relationships with both of their parents. You should not do anything to prevent them from maintaining their relationship with their other parent. If the other parent is flawed, let your children discover the flaws themselves.
5. Decisions should be fact-based, not on made emotion.
It Is common, for instance, that a financially dependant spouse will, solely on the basis of emotion, fight to remain in the former marital home even if remaining in the home is unaffordable or impractical. Emotion must give way to reason.
If the home is genuinely unaffordable, the home will inevitably need to be sold. Exacerbating the poor decision, that spouse probably had to waive or horse-trade their rights to other valuable assets.
A more reasoned approach would be to analyze and assess the true costs of home ownership and consider other viable settlement options
6. Don’t use the divorce to punish your spouse.
Whatever the reason for your divorce, whether it be adultery, abuse, or just incompatibility, don’t use the process to exact retribution. As previously discussed, there are no winners in divorce. If you are motivated solely to exact revenge in your divorce, not only will the case be needlessly acrimonious, it will be far more expensive than it needs to be.
Address your anger and bitterness to your spouse in a therapeutic setting. It will be far more productive.
7. Have reasonable expectations.
Your lawyer should be able to provide you with a range of possible and likely outcomes of your case. In most cases, child support and spousal maintenance payments are predictable and calculable numbers within a narrow range. Don’t expect that your divorce will be akin to having the winning lottery ticket. Depending on a litany of you factors, you can do a little better or a little worse if you litigate the divorce.
If you are going through a divorce or even considering a divorce, contact the Law Offices of Daniel Clement to discuss your case.