There are multiple things to consider when planning a divorce. How should you approach the divorce? Should you keep the house? Does your friend really know what they are talking about when giving divorce advice? Below are some thoughts for your consideration.
Things to Consider: Approaches to Divorce
You and your spouse get to decide how you want the divorce to proceed. If you choose, you can fight over every stick of furniture and every dollar in the retirement accounts. However, this approach costs the most money and generally takes the largest financial toll on the parties. Other approaches to consider include:
- Collaborative divorce
- Attorney negotiated divorce
All of these options require a certain amount of cooperation. In a collaborative divorce, the parties meet and share information. They involve experts who can evaluate parenting plans and financial decisions. Together, the parties, along with their specially trained attorneys, they come to a resolution. In mediation, an impartial third party helps facilitate discussions. When attorneys negotiate a divorce, the attorneys communicate with each other, guided by their clients’ wishes and needs. By deciding to work together to resolve the issues, divorcing takes less time and costs less money. Of course, with any of these three approaches, if the negotiation doesn’t lead to resolution, the parties are still free to go back to litigation.
Things to Consider: Keeping the House
Often times, at least one party to a divorce wants to keep the house. There are both financial and emotional considerations to keeping a home. Many people with children choose to stay in the house to provide the children with a certain amount of comfort and certainty during an otherwise difficult time. This is, of course, an important consideration. It is not, however, the only consideration when deciding whether or not to keep the house.
It is important to carefully and honestly evaluate whether one is financially prepared to keep the house. In addition to the mortgage, there are other considerations including:
- Will there be any significant exterior repairs needed in the next few years, including the roof, the driveway, the windows, and the siding
- Will there be any significant interior repair needed in the next few years, including the furnace, water heater, or air conditioner
- How old are the appliances such as the refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, and dishwashing machine
- How much will upkeep cost, including yard maintenance and snow removal
It is not enough to know you can pay the mortgage. Instead, you have to be prepared to fix anything else that goes wrong.
Things to Consider: Be Wary of Opinions
When people divorce, friends and family often want to help. Frequently, well-meaning friends and family offer advice on everything from property division to caring for the children to divorce strategy. Sifting and sorting through the flood of opinions can be exhausting. Generally speaking, the decision about what advice to listen to and follow and what advice to cast aside depends on what the advice is about.
Things to Consider: When a Friend Offers Advice about Divorce Decisions
Advice along the lines of “You should take everything he’s got,” and “There’s no way you should let her have the house” address the division of marital property. Comments such as, “They can see the kids every other weekend and Tuesday nights and that’s it!” go to child custody issues. If your friend is just venting, or commiserating in frustration, a smile and a nod is fine. If your friend is advocating a position, however, put this opinion to the side.
Your lawyer approaches your divorce with your particular goals in mind. Most divorce negotiations are the result of give and take. If you decide, based on a friend’s advice, that you now have a non-negotiable stance on something you and your lawyer previously agreed was negotiable, at best, you set back the timing of your divorce. This is because your lawyer may now have to renegotiate the entire package. It unnecessarily injects difficulty into the process. Unless your friend is also your divorce lawyer, listening to your friend’s divorce advice probably isn’t the best course.
Things to Consider: When a Friend Offers Advice about Handling Stress
As long as your friend’s advice about handling stress doesn’t include damaging marital property or changing your lawyer’s approach to handling the issues related to your divorce, you should consider your friend’s advice about handling stress. Often, during a divorce, one can get so mired down in the process they forget to take care of themselves. Consider going for a run or a yoga class with a friend. If they offer to take the kids for a few hours, or suggest going to the park, by all means, take them up on it. While your friend probably doesn’t know family law, they do know you. If they offer advice about handling stress, consider it carefully.
Things to Consider: Don’t Assume
Even if you have been married for a very long time, and even if you discussed certain property settlements or child custody issues before, don’t assume that you know your spouse’s position now. Often times, things change over the time it takes to get a divorce. You can’t expect to get what you don’t ask for. If you want something, let your attorney know.
Things to Consider: Be Flexible
Even if you are very hurt or very angry, being flexible can go a long way towards resolving issues. Coming up with a new or creative way to address an issue can go a long way towards fostering good will. This is particularly important if you have children in common, as you will continue to see your ex over the years.
If you are considering divorce, you need a qualified family law attorney. At Fait & DiLima, our attorneys have experience in mediation, attorney negotiated divorce, and collaborative law, as well as litigation. We can help you with your divorce, regardless of how you want to approach it. We also have a staff of family law professionals to provide full service to our clients. Contact us for a consultation.