You never thought it would happen to you because divorce is what happens to other people, right? You are not alone if you were blind-sided by your spouse declaring out of the blue that they want a divorce. Since the pandemic, abrupt declarations by a spouse that they are unhappy and want a divorce is occurring more frequently than ever. Divorce attorneys across the board are experiencing a surge, not just in divorce cases, but also domestic violence and post-judgment cases. The Court system is overwhelmed, and there simply are not enough judges to handle the load. It is like the entire world is upside down.
If your spouse has told you that they want a divorce, or even if your gut feeling is that it is imminent, I implore you to take action to protect yourself and your children.
Here are my top tips for a call-to-action plan:
Find the Right Divorce Attorney. This does not mean you pick the first divorce attorney you find on the internet. Do your research and talk to others to find out what their experiences were. All divorce attorneys are not created equal. You need a strong legal advocate who is well-known in the industry for being tenacious and a skilled negotiator and litigator. Divorce today is a “dog eat dog kind of world” even for cases that will settle, and mostly all do. Getting the right settlement means getting the right attorney from the start.
You need an attorney who understands your family dynamic, who your spouse is, and the reasons your marriage is ending. This provides important insights into the strategies that need to be employed during the divorce. If you get the feeling that these issues are not that important to your attorney, then trust your instincts and find another.
Secure Yourself Financially. Time and again, people tell me that no sooner did their spouse call it quits, that the joint bank account “ran dry” and their credit card was declined. Let me be frank. If you do not have a bank account and credit card in your individual name, then you should remedy this immediately. No one in today’s world should be wholly dependent on another person for support without a contingency plan in the event of an emergency. If legal intervention is needed, your attorney cannot just file an emergent motion without there being the threat of imminent and irreparable harm to a child. Otherwise, a non-emergent motion will need to be filed and getting the relief you need will take longer.
Do Not Leave the Marital Home Without a Plan. Far too many litigants move out of the marital home during their divorce without planning first or even alerting their attorney. This is a mistake unless you need to leave for safety reasons. If you move out, even temporarily, a Court could grant the other party exclusive occupancy of the marital home. You will the have to find other living accommodations which could create issues, especially child-related ones, before you are prepared to deal with them.
Don’t Be Gullible. It is amazing how many times I hear, “My spouse told me they will get sole custody of our children in the divorce” or “My spouse said they will financially destroy me and leave me with nothing.” In high conflict situations, emotions and imaginations run wild. You are more apt to believe empty threats when you are upset and trying to process what is happening in your life. The person saying these things is no doubt trying to push your buttons and knows just how to do it. Statements like this are indicative of someone who needs to feel in control or is trying to cover up their own insecurities. Surround yourself with positivity and tune out this type of talk.
Let’s start our conversation today so that I can start helping you take those next steps towards the next chapter in your life. Call today for your free consultation and listen to my podcast, The Divorce Project on my website.