How can I increase my chances of a successful divorce?
How can I increase my chances of a successful divorce?
Just like in any profession, experts have seen all varieties of cases and outcomes. Seasoned divorce specialists are able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a case and form an impression of the likely outcome in court.
It is, therefore, critical for separating spouses to retain a divorce specialist to help them navigate this stage of their life and achieve a favourable divorce settlement.
As a certified specialist in family law, and having worked in this field for over two decades, I have seen many different cases and approaches to resolving divorce.
I have seen low conflict divorces. I have seen high conflict divorces. I have seen a large volume of spouses separating peacefully and cooperatively. The spouses in the latter category are committed to keeping the temperature low and not permitting the level of conflict to rise. They are the ones that give their children the very best possible emotional outcome, despite the separation of their family unit.
6 tips for a successful divorce case
Here are 6 observations that I have made about how spouses have achieved success in divorce.
1. Be a good human being
Be modest. Be humble. Look inwards. Do not attempt to lay blame on anyone else other than on the situation. By giving up any effort to find fault, all of that energy is now devoted to productively planning the next stage of your life and the life of your children.
There is only so much energy that we all have. For those people that invest all that energy into conflict, they are using their available energy for the wrong purposes. When both spouses are each focused on personal growth and overall future family health, then everyone does better.
2. Consider family counselling and therapy
If professional help is needed, and sometimes it is, the money should be spent on therapy and counselling. Yes, we lawyers make our living by providing legal advice and representation. However, in my observation, the money is better spent on individual, family and group counselling.
I have seen families become more functional, stable and happy after divorce because of the use of therapy. On the other hand, I have seen families who started their divorce with very little conflict but ended up hating each other, causing the children tremendous stress and having the entire family consumed in everlasting acrimony.
Regrettably, part of the blame falls on lawyers who prolong the acrimony with hostile communications, unreasonable positions and an appetite for greater billings. Although many lawyers are very ethical and responsible, regrettably there are lawyers who feed off of their clients’ hunger for revenge.
So if there is a finite amount of financial resources, in my opinion, the family is better off spending it on mental health professionals such as therapists, parenting coaches, and parenting coordinators.
3. Be honest
Nothing will drive the conflict in a divorce case more than dishonesty. This is where things can go wrong. When you couple dishonesty with cheerleaders or litigious lawyers, the client can easily be persuaded to engage in a high conflict divorce.
Under no circumstances should you give the other side an opportunity to use your dishonesty to engage in a conflictual process. Whether it be your weakness as a parent, your fear of losing your assets or being required to pay a higher amount of support, it is far better to follow the advice of your lawyer regarding disclosure and for the payment of money.
Dishonesty will only cost you more in the long run in terms of legal fees and the possibility that a judge will make an adverse finding against you and order you to pay more than you would have otherwise been required to had you been forthright.
4. Do not neglect your children
Parent your children with unconditional love. Divorce is not a time to be a strong disciplinarian. Although it is the parents’ obligation to guide their children towards making the right choices and conducting themselves responsibly, there will be plenty of opportunities to provide such discipline.
However, divorce is a moment of trauma for the children. The ground that they have been comfortable standing on begins to crumble. Their sense of security and stability is compromised. It is at this time that the children desperately require expressions of love, approval, and acceptance.
5. Don’t be too generous too early
Don’t be too quick to attempt to settle. Do not make the most generous proposal for settlement early. On its face, doing so makes sense. It’s honest, forthright and ethical. However, the legal system has been trained to be skeptical of any proposal for settlement.
Lawyers, judges and mediators will consider the first offer of settlement to be the beginning of the negotiation. Right or wrong, this is how it is perceived.
So for those spouses who begin the process of negotiating a settlement by making the most generous proposal possible at the outset will often times be disappointed by the response. No different than negotiating with a street vendor, the first offer should never be your final position for settlement.
6. Carefully consider your choice of divorce lawyer
Choose your lawyer wisely. In the era of the internet and online reviews, there is ample opportunity for you to know, really know, the lawyer that you are considering. Their reputation will affect the advice that you get when you first decide to file for a divorce, as well as the reception that you get in negotiations, mediation or in court.
Although some spouses deliberately seek strong, tough, forceful, aggressive legal representation, I have seen too many times that this approach results in that client suffering far greater financial losses and, worse than that, tremendous family conflict that lasts for longer than the divorce. Choose your lawyer wisely and control the process.
There are many more observations that I can provide. But for now, start with these 6 observations and set a path for a fast, fair and inexpensive divorce, also known as a successful divorce. Just because your marriage was not successful, does not mean that your divorce can’t be. It’s all about the choices that you make.
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