Relationships & Love
7 Steps to A Peaceful Divorce
The only thing worse than a divorce is a nasty divorce full of gossip, unnecessary expenditures that financially drain both spouses and the added emotional turmoil that comes with fighting, name calling and even physical abuse. Is it possible to have a peaceful and even amicable divorce?
Joryn Jenkins, a trial attorney with 35 years of courtroom experience and author of War or Peace: Avoid The Destruction of Divorce, says a peaceful dissolution of marriage can take place only if you do these seven things:
Don’t assume you must litigate. While a judgement of divorce signed by a judge is required, there are many ways to get to that final hearing. You can negotiate with your spouse on your own. You can hire a mediator. You can hire a cooperative lawyer. The newest and best way is to hire a collaborative team to help you negotiate your divorce. The point is, there’s no need for unnecessary litigation which is costly and can get ugly.
Don’t empty joint financial accounts. Some lawyers encourage their clients to empty the bank accounts before “your spouse does it.” This is a declaration of war, equivalent to pushing the red button. The one who empties the joint bank account will lose credibility with the judge. This will also cost you more money in attorney’s fees when your spouse embarks on a search mission to find those assets, and it will also delay the conclusion of your case.
Don’t talk trash. If you must vent issues about your ex, beware of the consequences. The only true confidential exchange you have is with your attorney, and that’s protected only if there are no outsiders present. Never trash your ex to your kids as this will only hurt you in court.
Don’t post on social media. It’s hugely tempting to brag about your new life before you’re even divorced. Don’t post anything that might be used against you. Details about the keg you finished by yourself or the one-night stands you’ve enjoyed, or the pictures with your new girlfriend will not help your divorce case. Think of all the famous folks who are now infamous idiots just because they had to hit “enter.”
Don’t file false claims. Telling the police that your spouse hit you is not the right way to announce that you want a divorce or to get him or her out of the house. It’s a declaration of war and your kids and bank accounts will suffer in the ensuing firestorm.
Always get a second opinion. A lawyer should explain all the options available to getting that final judgement. But lawyers are human. They make mistakes. They have biases. They want to make money. Always get a second opinion before choosing an attorney. But once you do retain counsel, take her advice.
Go the collaborative route. A collaborative divorce will save you time and money, prevent emotional trauma, ensure personalized results with which your family can live, and protect your relationships with the people about whom you care. While most divorce processes address only the legal and financial separation between parties, the collaborative process addresses the emotional element of the dissolution of your marriage, too, and consists of a group of professionals who work as a team to help you resolve your divorce.
Joryn Jenkins, now in private practice, concentrates on the collaborative practice of family law. For more about her work, visit her website, http://openpalmlaw.com/.