In order to obtain the best possible terms in your divorce settlement, you will need sound legal advice from someone with experience, as well as an understanding that everything is a compromise. There are many horror stories you may have read or heard about one spouse getting the short end of the stick when it comes to fairly and equitably dividing assets and debts, as well as parenting time, child support, and alimony.
Before the media’s stories or tall tales from friends and family discourages you, there are various things to consider when entering the divorce process to help build your case and ensure the best outcome once your divorce is completed.
WHAT NOT TO DO
MAKE EMOTIONAL DECISIONS
Divorce is an emotional and mentally consuming experience, but when it comes to important financial options, thinking with your emotions is not a healthy idea. Many couples will aggressively battle over assets that only have sentimental value, but low return on investment. Also, it is common for parties to just want to ‘give in’ in order to be done with the divorce. By doing so, parties permanently waive their right to something they were entitled to. Avoid making decisions subjectively. Talk to your lawyer about the assets you want to claim for added guidance and support.
IGNORE COST OF LIVING EXPENSES
In cases where children are involved, if you are the custodial parent, take into serious account the expenses of meeting the needs of your children. Daycare, extracurricular, sports, school related expenses and other activities quickly become burdensome. Think mindfully about the needs of your children to avoid making a settlement decision that won’t fit into your lifestyle.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO
EMPOWER YOURSELF FINANCIALLY
Don’t become a financial victim. Take control of your personal or mutual finances and begin keeping record of balances and assets. Get involved and know what accounts you and your spouse have – and how much is in each account. Don’t forget about retirement & investment accounts, stocks and bonds, and life insurance policies. Get copies of vital records that will speak for your marital lifestyle including checking accounts, credit card statements and tax returns. Watch your joint accounts and value of any insurance policies. Any changes without your knowledge should be noted and mentioned to your lawyer as soon as possible.
CONSIDER ALL OPTIONS
Litigation is not the only method in which you can dissolve your marriage. Mediation is an option that couples who can still work together should utilize in order to make a fair settlement on major, or all divorce issues. The process includes a neutral mediator that meets with the couple and their attorneys to help them reach an agreement on their important issues. Mediation provides more collaboration and flexibility in decision-making and can be less stressful than litigation, which often puts both spouses against each other in a lengthy and expensive court process.
Another benefit of mediation is that you are free to explore unique options that a Court most likely would not impose. Further, if you do not accept the offers exchanged at mediation, you can simply walk away; but most parties find that they are able to reach a full or partial agreement that is acceptable to everyone.