Top 5 Tips on How to Survive a Divorce, American-Style
By Matt Thompson
The legal divorce process in the State of Florida yields many different outcomes; some fair, some not. It all comes down to getting both parties to end their former relationship amicably and formally so that they can both move on. Divorce is never easy for any of the parties involved—from the former couple, to children and any other family members—and maneuvering through the divorce process is daunting, both from a personal, emotional and–perhaps more to the point–legal perspective. Here are the top five tips on how to survive a divorce, American-style.
- Get a Good Lawyer
Of course every lawyer’s first piece of advice is to “hire a good lawyer”. This is because the more experienced your lawyer is in divorce law, the less of a headache the process will be. A good divorce lawyer will be able to walk you through the entire divorce and be by your side for mediations and hearings. Always do your research before settling with the first divorce lawyer whose ad you see on a bench. Also, it is important to pay close attention the consumer reviews and industry ratings, as they often reveal much of what you can expect to get from your choice of attorney. For example, the site AVVO is a good place to start.
- We’re all Adults Here, so Let’s Act Like It
More often than not, divorces get messy. It’s high emotions—sadness, anger, vengeance, regret—a volatile mix that causes some exes to explode. Petty and hurtful words are exchanged in a flurry of outward projections aimed at each other, many times devolving into a screaming match or lengthy hurling of profane epithets. If this sounds familiar to you and your partner, your next tip is simple and blunt: Grow up. Yes, getting a divorce is unpleasant (generally at least for one of the parties), but there comes a point where you must choose to act like an adult and get on with it. It is recommended that if you and your partner are this scenario, speak only through your lawyers. It’s the adult thing to do.
- Don’t be Greedy
Contrary to Gordon Gecko, greed is not good. The unpleasantness of a divorce is compounded ten-fold when there is any kind of money involved. For the parties going through a divorce, it is understandable that you were hurt by the result of your failed marriage and want to take it out on your ex-partner in the divorce. The way that Florida’s divorce law works, many times there are strong inequalities in terms of judgments and settlements and the alimony and child support that has been determined. Sometimes out of hurt, anger or vindictiveness, someone inevitably gets greedy. The other party feels like they’re getting exploited in the deal and disagrees to the terms, which makes it difficult to come to a resolution.
- Children are not Pawns in the Divorce Game
Your divorce attorney should also be a child custody expert. Child custody law in Florida is quite explicit and if both parties can amicably agree on the terms of custody, it will make the process easier as well as easier on the children, who are typically the ones most affected by divorce. This next tip is to avoid using children as pawns in the divorce. Pitting children against one parent or the other is dangerous for children, particularly young ones that may not yet have the mental capacity to fully understand the gravity of the situation.
It’s difficult for a family to break apart, but it is important to put the needs of the children at the forefront, meaning any leverage you may have hoped for needs to take a backseat. The same goes for anyone thinking of pulling any dirty divorce tricks.
- Keep Your Wits About You
Sometimes the person you once fell in love with, is no longer the “one” and no matter whose heart is broken during the divorce process, your former partner can be revealed as spiteful or vindictive, again, particularly when there is money to be had. The final important tip here is to watch out for any shady tricks that your ex and their legal team may try to pull. From your finances and child custody to an array of other things that exes do to each other, their children and themselves during the divorce process.
In the end, a divorce is undeniably a huge, life-altering event that leaves families broken, but it is a necessary reality. The best ways to survive a divorce are to have a great lawyer that knows how to work for the fairest deal in terms of alimony and/or child support and custody, act like adults and don’t be greedy, never use children to gain leverage over the other party, don’t pull any dirty tricks and learn how to spot any legal sleight-of-hand that could hurt your case.