Divorce can be a deeply painful and difficult experience. You may be a couple who have mutually decided marriage isn’t working, an individual who feels ready to leave a bad relationship, or a person who has just received the shock of their life by having their spouse announce they want a divorce. No matter what position you are in, you are probably thinking you need a lawyer (and you should have good counsel), but many people are surprised to learn there is a great deal they can do personally to set the tone for a civil divorce.
3 Tips for A Better Divorce With Fewer Disputes
1. Learn About Alternatives to Court
People divorcing often imagine they will end up in a courtroom combat. However, many cases resolve without court and there are many forms of alternative dispute resolution that a couple can use to resolve their issues.
Among the options are mediation, a series of meetings in which parties work with a neutral third party (mediator) to help them reach an agreement, and collaborative divorce, in which the parties and their lawyers work as a team using interest-based bargaining to reach the best possible outcome for all.
In collaborative divorce, other professionals (such as a financial advisor, accountant, or mental health professional) may be brought onto the team to help resolve specific issues within their expertise.
Avoiding court can reduce the stress and expense of divorce dramatically and provide the opportunity for mutually acceptable settlement without engaging in battle. A lawyer who is knowledgeable about dispute resolution alternatives can advise you on the options and help you make this decision.
2. Understand Your Finances
The financial aspects of divorce are numerous and complex. Gathering the critical financial information and documents will help you be prepared.
You will need information about your income and your spouse’s, assets and debt, cash flow and budget, employee benefits (for both you and your spouse), insurance policies, and possibly more. It can be a daunting task to gather, but it is important and empowering to understand your finances.
If possible, exchange the relevant financial information with your spouse. When both parties understand the finances, it is easier to put aside fear and create reasonable alternatives for settlement. A family lawyer or financial advisor can help you determine what you need and help you understand it.
3. Balance Your Emotions
The emotional aspects of separation and divorce can cloud your better judgment just at the time when you most need to be level-headed. This is why many divorce cases end up in court. People who are acting on emotions are at a disadvantage and when the parties seek revenge on one another, litigation and high expenses result. If you can keep your composure, you think more clearly and make better decisions.
It is worthwhile to seek counsel from a mental health professional if you feel you cannot manage your emotions – don’t feel badly about this. Taking care of yourself is important, especially when you are under a lot of stress. It also helps to have a lawyer who is able to approach your case calmly and guide you through the challenges that will arise as you navigate this process.
About Cynthia Weiss Stein
Cynthia Weiss Stein, Esquire is a partner at Shemtob Draganosky Taylor, PC., a law firm practicing exclusively in the area of family law. With over thirty years of experience, Cynthia has handled a broad range of family law matters, including divorce, custody, support and equitable distribution in Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Philadelphia counties. Learn more about Cynthia Weiss Stein. You may reach her at 215-542-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org.