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Insiders' Divorce Advice

Reprinted with permission by author Diana Mercer,
co-Author of Making Divorce Work.

So here's the inside scoop. I've been a divorce attorney for 23 years and as a result, every single one of my friends (both actual friends, and Facebook friends) ask me for my advice when they're facing a divorce.

When I have friends who are getting divorced, and they ask me for advice, here's what I tell them. The real deal, the confidential, back-channel skinny. Beyond legal advice, which they can get anywhere.

These are my top tips for staying out of trouble:

Ignore Legal Smack Talk from Your Spouse: I love that spouses try and give each other legal advice. Really? Since when did your spouse go to law school and become a divorce lawyer? And you're listening? Heck, even if they're dishing out good advice, it pays to double check.

Question "My Friend Said": If your spouse talks about friends' divorces or what the lawyer plans on doing to you legally, ask:

• How many years did that friend's divorce take?
• How much did it cost?
• How much did your lawyer say that taking me to the cleaners would
cost in legal fees?
• Is your lawyer willing to put it in writing that they guaranteed that their result will be better than what I'm prepared to offer voluntarily?

You're safe with that last one---no lawyer would guarantee anything or put fees in writing so this will force your spouse to have an honest discussion with the lawyer about the pros and cons of pursuing any given action.

Watch Out For Non-Monetary Games: Keep an eye out for your spouse manipulating the kids. Make sure your bond with them remains strong. Don't bad-mouth your spouse---your kids will figure that out later and hate you, so keep the long term in mind.

Your spouse may think he or she is plotting and being strategic like some sort of Divorce 007. But at the end of the day, it's a business deal and a parenting plan. It is what it is. So don't let your imagination run away with you.

You can keep costs (and suspicion, and plotting) down by:

1. Being organized. Make a notebook with labeled dividers with all of the financial records (recent ones, at least) and tax returns (as many as you have copies of), a comparative market analysis (free from any realtor) of the value of your house, your most recent pay stub...and ideally you'll make your spouse a notebook, too.

I know that might sound crazy (making your adversary a notebook) but your spouse's attorney will charge for making a notebook and getting the records together (which could run up the bill by several thousand dollars) so if you can take the wind out of those sails from the get go (your spouse is entitled to all that info pursuant to law anyway) and all of the mystery out of your financial situation, you're ahead of the game.

Don't get paralyzed by your emotions. It's easy to sit down with a hole punch and a notebook and put stuff in by date. You don't need all your faculties to do that, so it's a good activity for when you're feeling lost.

2. Staying Sane. Make appointments with your therapist, make time for your kids (and don't talk about your spouse), play golf or ride bikes (ideally with your kids), make time with friends. Take care of yourself. Eat right and work out.

3. Don't taking the bait: Your spouse will say stuff to you just to get you riled up. Ignore it. "Obviously, this is a hot topic for both of us, so I'm not going to respond at this point. I do hope we can work all of this out, though, at some point." Then change the subject. Say that as many times as you have to.

Eventually, your spouse will get bored when it's clear you aren't going to fight back. This will freak your spouse out a little, particularly at first, so feel free to chuckle. When you start to behave differently than you have over the last eleventy-million years they're going to wonder what's up and watching that might be a little amusing as the old tricks don't work on you anymore.

4. Find that Special Someone--Quietly: If you decide you want to date, don't let anyone find out about it. Not under any circumstances. Your spouse will go bananas if you're with someone else, so avoid that at all costs. It doesn't matter if it's your spouse who suggested the divorce or found a new lover first. They still go nuts when they see you've moved on, too. I'm not saying don't do it. I'm saying don't let anyone find out.

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana's divorce blog on the Huffington Post

 

 

 

 

 

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KAGilbertLaw is a Bergen County, New Jersey Divorce Attorney. Our main offerings include: Collaborative Divorce Attorney Services and Divorce Mediation Services by an experienced Divorce Mediator in Bergen County, New Jersey or anywhere else in the state.

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We serve the following States, Cities, Zip Codes and Counties:
New Jersey (NJ), Bergen County, Hudson County, Passaic County, Hackensack 07601, Bergenfield 07621, Cliffside Park 07019, Dumont 07628, Edgewater 07020, Elmwood Park 07407, Emerson 07630, Englewood 07631, Englewood Cliffs 07632, Fair Lawn 07410, Fairview 07022, Fort Lee 07024, Franklin Lakes 07417, Garfield 07026, Glen Rock 07452, Harrington Park 07640, Hasbrouck Heights 07604, Ho-Ho-Kus 07423, Leonia 07605, Little Ferry 07643, Lodi 07644, Lyndhurst 07071, Mahwah 07495, Midland Park 07432, Moonachie 07074, New Milford 07646, North Arlington 07031, Northvale 07647, Norwood 07648, Oakland 07436, Old Tappan 07675,Oradell 07649, Palisades Park 07650, Paramus 07652, Park Ridge 07656, Ramsey 07446, Ridgefield 07657, Ridgefield Park 07660, Ridgewood 07451, River Edge 07661, River Vale 07675, Rochelle Park 07662, Rockleigh 07647, Rutherford 07070, Saddle Brook 07663, Saddle River 07458, South Hackensack 07606, Teaneck 07666, Tenafly 07670, Upper Saddle River 07458, Waldwick 07463, Wallington 07057, Twp of Washington 07676, Westwood 07675, Woodcliff Lake 07677, Wood Ridge 07075, Wyckoff 07481, Bogota 07603, Carlstadt 07072, Allendale 07401, Closter 07624, Cresskill 07626, Demarest 07627, Haworth 07641, Hillsdale 07642, East Rutherford 07073, Montvale 07645

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©2012 Kathryn A. Gilbert, Esq. All rights reserved. The information you obtain on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.
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