As divorce attorneys, we have witnessed divorce play out thousands of times. Over the years, certain trends have popped up, and these are the 7 things our clients say they wish they’d known before starting divorce.
1. What you want when you start your process won’t be what you want when you finally end up divorced.
You will start the process with some assumptions in mind. There is usually a catalyst event that has led up to this moment and much fantasizing has been done about what you will say, what you will do, what the judge will decide, or how your children will be involved.
The process is long and what you want today will change. Usually time tempers the emotions and reality sets in. Your lifestyle will change. You may lose your housekeeper, or your weekly manicures. You may lose your golf and car wash membership. You may start out wanting to keep the marital home, but decide that you can’t afford it and a fresh start with lower monthly expenses may be the best thing for you. Be open to new possibilities.
2. With children, you will never truly be divorced.
Ever. Even when your children are grown and have children of their own, you will share grandchildren with your ex. Try and see the good in your ex. Acknowledge that they have strengths and weaknesses like everyone else. Understand that you chose your ex to be the parent of your children, they did not. Try to NEVER speak poorly about your ex in front of the children. They will appreciate it for many years to come.
3. Letting a judge decide is like playing Russian roulette.
You would never play Russian roulette. You would never take $100k to Vegas and hit the tables. Please, please, please, do not take the future of you and your children in front of a judge if it can be avoided. The judge does not know you, is not really acting in your best interest, and is not in a good position to make decisions that will affect you for the rest of your life. If there is any way you can avoid litigating divorce issues, do it. If you have to litigate your case, take the gloves off. Judges are unpredictable, like Vegas or Russian roulette. You are almost always better off negotiating something crafted by you that you and your ex can live with.
4. You will lose weight.
The divorce diet is real and affects both men and women. Set aside some money for a new wardrobe.
5. You will find your worst and best self.
When under extreme stress, your true, authentic and unrefined self will emerge. This is hard. Most of us prefer our poised, in-control adult self to our emotional volatile toddler self. When you’re under the stress of reorganizing your whole life, things get a little emotional. Cut yourself some slack and be good to yourself during this difficult time
You will also dig deep to find strength you didn’t know you had. You will find compassion and become more flexible with yourself and your children. You will set aside pride, hurt and resentment in order to build a better future.
6. You will lose friends.
And they won’t be the ones you thought you might lose. You will be surprised by how friends and family respond. Some of the biggest surprises come from your ex’s family, which may become surprisingly supportive or disappointingly nasty. The only real assurance is that your family and friend support group will look different in a year from how it looks today.
7. You need to like your attorney.
Your attorney will see you at your best and your worst. They will become your friend and your confidant. They are more than someone who gives you information and navigates the process. Your attorney is someone you will trust to give you advice on the most important things in life. Your attorney will take your problems and make them their own. They will shoulder the burdens you don’t want to touch. They will act as your shield and advocate. Your attorney needs to know you and what truly matters in order to accomplish your goals and objectives.