10 Ways to Help Your Divorce Case

You may be just beginning your divorce case or you may be in the middle.  Regardless of your current position, there are certain tips that will make this painful process much smoother in the grand scheme of things.  In fact, if you would follow these ten easy tips, you would be worlds ahead of other people going through divorces.

  1. Stress management.  There are a couple of ways our clients are able to work through the stress that occurs with a divorce; here are a couple of my recommendations: Research and find a counselor with whom you are comfortable.  I know, I know—most people hate the word “counseling” and feel as though it would not help them. But, so many of our clients attend counseling and I am amazed at the way they are able to process as we go through the divorce.  It does not matter if it is a pastor, licensed counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or a free clinic; you just need to talk to someone.  The emotional toll of the divorce can be so taxing and many people need help with coping; this includes you.  OR if you are not ready to take the counseling step, get out and exercise.  Or even better, you can do both.  Go for a walk with a friend, join a gym, or attend a fitness class that interests you.  Start a fitness routine and it will give you something to look forward to.  And remember what Elle Woods says, “Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy.  Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”
  2. Keep off of social media.  I cannot stress enough—do not post anything on any social media account about your soon to be ex, their paramour, the children, the case, etc.   While it may feel good at the time, it will only hurt you in the long run.  All judges frown upon it and it will make the case harder than it already is.
  3. Maintain your children as what they are, just children.  So many parents fall into the trap of venting to their children about the other parent.  Do not be one of those parents! Remember that your children are children, no matter their age.   They do not want to hear about how their dad is behind on child support.  They do not want to hear about mom asking for too much money and not holding up her end of the deal.  They should not have to hear such adult things.  They just want to know that both parents love them, regardless of what is going on in the grown up world.  I suggest, even if your court does not require it, attending the For Kids’ Sake class taught by Dr. Nancy Ferrell.  This class helps parents going through divorces understand how their actions, arguments, words, etc. affect their children.  It is truly eye-opening and will make you think twice about using your child as a sounding board.
  4. Remain cordial with your spouse.  Even if your spouse is sending you nasty text messages and trying to get you riled up, just simply send those texts to your attorney to keep them in the file and do not, I REPEAT DO NOT, respond.  That will make them angrier than if you did retort back and play into their childish behaviors.  The best advice I have ever heard on this topic is do not text your spouse anything that you would not want the judge to see.   Because you can guarantee that if any inappropriate words, videos, or pictures are exchanged they will be on the exhibit list for hearings.
  5. Organizing your case for your attorney.  Stress is also relieved when you are able to organize all of your documents, thoughts, and goals for your attorney.  If your attorney gives you a packet to complete within a certain amount of time, do it early and complete it to your utmost ability.  If you have certain text messages, pictures, or documents that you want the attorney to review have them organized (it will keep your bill down and make life easier for the both of you).  For instance, label the documents, put them in chronological order, etc.  Also, be sure you are clear to your attorney what your overall goal is in the case; they cannot advise you and keep you on track if they do not know what you ultimately want out of the case.
  6. Have your assets/debts organized.  In line with the previous suggestion, you will want to organize your assets and debts into spreadsheets for your attorney.  List everything that you can think of, including jewelry, lawn equipment, homes, bank accounts, retirement accounts, vehicles, boats, exercise equipment, home appliances, etc. along with the approximate market values and where you retrieved the information on that value.  For the debts, think about who is the creditor, the total amount of the debt, the monthly payments, when the monthly payments are due, etc.  Think of this as an inventory for things that will ultimately be divided among you and your spouse.  It will keep you and your attorney organized for mediation and hearings.
  7. Relay children’s medical records for expenses.  In most cases, one party will be ordered to maintain the health insurance and then the parties will be ordered to 50/50 the unreimbursed medical expenses.  If you are the party who mainly takes the children to the doctor, then you will be the party receiving the bill and the party who incurs most of the expenses.  Be sure that you understand how it works—in order to be reimbursed 50% by the other party, you must send them the bills.  And, to be safe, have proof of sending those bills (ex. certified mail, fax confirmations, etc.) Most orders have certain deadlines, so be mindful of those.
  8. Read your orders!  Notice the exclamation point at the end of that.  Read them several times, know them in your sleep.  This is so important and you will not believe how many people are asked questions about their visitation, requirements, or deadlines and they will tell me that they do not know.  However, their orders clearly have exactly what they needed to know within them.  It is important that you read and understand exactly what you are signing and agreeing to; if you have questions, no matter the questions, you need to go over that with your attorney.  You need to know what you are ordered to do because if you do not and you end up not following the orders, ignorance will not get out of the contempt that you might face with the court.
  9. Communicate with your attorney.  Be sure to call and/or email your attorney back promptly.  Your attorney relies on you to approve of pleadings, let them know your responses to certain questions, etc. and they cannot proceed forward without your response.  Understand that your attorney is doing what you hired them to do—represent you.  If you have a deadline coming up that your attorney or their assistant has emailed or called you about, do not make your attorney hunt you down.  Send your attorney an email or call their assistant and let them know that you are going to meet the deadline or if you need some help meeting that deadline.   Remember, communication is key in any relationship.
  10. Be financially prepared.  Your attorney will ask for a retainer upfront to start work on the case; however, if your case is contested you will need to expect to go above that retainer.  You will most likely have multiple hearings, mediation, a social study (if there are children), and if necessary a final trial.  Divorces can be very expensive and it is important to not be blindsided by that amount.  After all, you do not want representation only halfway through your case; you want representation until the very end.