These are not legal mistakes that your divorce attorney might make, but mistakes you could make if you go into the divorce process without first educating yourself. A good divorce lawyer will talk you through some of these issues, but the more you know before you even talk to a divorce attorney, the better prepared you will be.
Don’t overestimate what you will get from the divorce.
It rarely works out as easily as, “I get half and he gets half, and we share the kids.” If you think you and your ex can easily negotiate a simple divorce agreement—more power to you. However, conflicts arise during a divorce that are almost impossible to predict, and you will discover that your priorities change when you think about your future life as an unmarried person. Define and limit your non-negotiable issues, choose your battles, and approach everything with an attitude of compromise and realistic expectations.
Don’t predict your spouse will be easy to work with.
Even if your spouse is the one who wanted the divorce in the first place, don’t be surprised if he or she gets uncooperative—or even downright nasty—at some point in the process. Divorce is rough, and you will both feel vulnerable, sad, angry and jilted at some point. Even if your marriage was full of kindness and reciprocal respect, and if the divorce is the result of “growing apart,” do not be surprised if your spouse gets mean once you’re on opposite sides of the word “versus” in divorce documents. Expect the worst behavior, behave as well as you possibly can, and be pleasantly surprised if your spouse treats you well throughout the divorce.
Don’t expect fairness from the legal system.
“The judge will see what I mean.” Try to remove this sentence from your vocabulary during the divorce process. No matter how obviously right and fair you think your position is, a judge can always see the same issue from another perspective. In a way, that’s part of their job. You may not even be allowed to give the judge all the information you think he or she should consider when making a decision (about kids or property or spousal support) because the judge and the attorneys must follow procedural rules about the types of evidence that can and cannot be used.
Don’t use your heart to make divorce decisions. Use your head.
This is a common mistake that an experienced and empathetic attorney can help you avoid. Your emotions will run wild during the entire divorce process. Use every psychological tool—and trusted friend—at your disposal to make decisions based on what your brain tells you is logical and in the best long-term interests of you and your children. It may feel satisfying to get revenge against your ex now, but don’t do it at the expense of your own post-divorce future.
Use your Lawyer’s time efficiently.
Ask your lawyer how you can help, and do your best to limit your phone calls and emails asking for updates unless absolutely necessary. Remember, the more time your attorney spends talking to you on the phone, or listening to you vent about your ex, the less time he or she may spend actually managing the important details of your case. Channel your worry and anxiety into other activities during this difficult time. If you feel your lawyer is not adequately handling your matter, then by all means communication is critical. But it is equally important to understand that in the law, just as with everywhere else, that time is money. So, use your time and money wisely when it comes to your lawyer.
Contact Lyons & Associates to Talk With Experienced New Jersey Divorce Lawyers
At the Somerville, New Jersey, family law firm of Lyons & Associates, we use our legal experience to make the divorce process as pain-free as possible. We bring a high level of personal attention to every case we handle. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or call our office at 908-575-9777.