Divorce is traumatic, but it does not have to be tragic. With the New Year comes a new beginning for many who are going through a divorce. Lanae Harden, who chairs the Family Law Practice Group at HARDEN JACKSON, offers the following suggestions to help you through the process. With more than 18 years as a family law attorney handling complex and high-conflict divorce and custody cases in Indiana, she has heard almost everything.
- Don’t refuse to communicate with your ex (unless the relationship is abusive). Refusing to communicate will only result in increased animosity and ultimately, more time and expense. If you set an adversarial tone because of your anger and emotions, your case will take longer. You also won’t recover as quickly (emotionally or financially), and you’ll likely be re-litigating issues for months or years after your divorce. For your children’s sake, be willing to communicate in a civil and respectful manner.
- Always put your children’s interests first. Not only is this in the best interests of your children, but from a strategic standpoint, your willingness to act in good faith will have a favorable impact on your case at court. Every action you take should be measured by how it will be viewed by the judge. When it comes to custody, judges are evaluating which parent places the children as priorities. Remember, questionable actions or behavior by you could be used by your spouse’s attorney to negatively affect you. Attorneys are trained to spin circumstances to favor their clients. Don’t leave anything up to interpretation.
- Be reasonable about expectations. Your lifestyle will change. Ultimately there will be two households and two sets of expenses. And the more adversarial your divorce, the more you and your spouse will be spending of your income and assets in order to divide them. Set goals and keep the big picture in mind. This will help you be effective in your communication with your attorney. While she does care about your emotional well-being, don’t use your attorney as a substitute for a therapist or divorce coach. Counseling with a trained expert will be less expensive and your attorney will be able to focus on what she is best trained to do: managing and protecting your legal rights.