What should I do right now?

Many spouses have asked, "what are the top things that I should be doing right now?"  Here are the answers:


1.  The absolute first thing  you want to do, is get informed about the process and how the whole thing works.  This website was designed to get you there and knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions.  So much of what you do in a divorce and how you handle a divorce depends on having information that is both current and relevant.  For example, if you know how an issue is typically treated in court, you'll know not to take an opposite approach on that issue.  If you did try to swim up-stream, you'll tire out, waste a lot of time, and it will cost you a lot of money to lose.  So, the first step is know the outcome, before it happens.  A divorce lawyer that knows his or her stuff can give you a good assessment of your likely outcome, which is what you need.  The problem is whether or not you find yourself dealing with a lawyer that's being accurate, or telling you what you want to hear.  If a lawyer is just telling you what he or she knows you want to hear (to get you as a client), you're screwed because you're not getting the right information that you need upfront and in the beginning of your case.  


2.  Once you have the information to make informed decisions, you suddenly realize that the outcome of the finances is largely predetermined (with some wiggle room), and the real issue that may or may not be litigated comes down to custody and or rights to the children.  If you're a parent, you need to decide whether or not this is going to be a custody case.  Many men seek out custody, but only later in the case, which is disastrous.  This decision to get custody must be made up front.  The strategy that is employed on each case is planned very early in the case.  Changing directions later in the case will prove to be costly.  If you're a mom, and are uncertain or feel somewhat confident that your husband will not want custody - guess again.  The law is different now and custody can go either way.  I have won custody for many men in my career, and in nearly all those cases, the mom was stunned at the outcome. The point of this paragraph is commit to an approach to the case and stick with it.  


3.  The next thing you need to do, is get a lawyer.  Not just any lawyer, you'll need someone that knows their stuff.  Avoid lawyers that are friends or friends of the family; especially if that lawyer typically doesn't do divorce or they are rarely in the courthouse where your case will be filed.  If custody is an issue, avoid at all costs lawyers that are typically known to be father's rights lawyers or mom's rights lawyers.  These lawyers and their marketing are slick and attract many clients; however, you already lost custody the minute you hired them. Custody is always decided on what's called a "child's best interest standard."  To best explain this standard, you'll have to see the case from the Judge's viewpoint (which is from the child's eyes).  For example, the Judge may be thinking, "I don't care what the parent wants - what would the child want?"  When you hire an all women "pro-mom" office, the perspective is about mom, not the child - and guess what, you just lost.  Same thing with "dad's rights" lawyers. That lawyer is well known to prosecute dad's wants - not the kid's wants; you lose.  A good custody lawyer knows how to get you want you want, and make it look like it satisfies the "child's best interest standard" or what the child wants. Pro-mom or dad's rights lawyers don't care about the outcome, they care more about getting you as a client.  If they cared about getting you custody, they wouldn't market themselves that way.  So, find the right lawyer for the job.


4.  If you been served, get comfortable that the divorce will happen.  So, if your spouse filed a divorce case (and you don't want the divorce), it will happen anyway.  Be mindful that your spouse may be willing to settle on terms that more favorable to you, if you go along with the process.  Some spouses will give you more because they feel bad for cheating.  In these circumstances, cut your best deal quickly and end the case.  Many spouses tend to delay the inevitable, only to find out that their generous spouse, isn't so generous anymore.  Take advantage of the spouse that wants the divorce.  Waiting will likely only cost you.  


5.  If you're the one that filed the case (or are planning to file), then try to put the  best settlement terms upfront.  No one wants a Judge to decide family matters, and no one wants to pay costly legal bills, and therefore, talk settlement early and get serious.  Being cute with an unfair settlement offer will not end your case quickly.


6.  Instruct your lawyer to put your settlement proposal in writing.  It is no secret with divorce attorneys that a settlement offer in writing is a wonderful settlement tool.  Oral offers are not usually taken seriously, and are usually misunderstood.  By having clear and certain terms in writing gives everyone the opportunity to review (and re review) the document, comment, and provide alternate provisions.  Nearly every case will end with settlement documents, so why not start your case with a working draft that can be revised in the process.  It never appears to be a waste of money to put these agreements together.  In fact, if custody is at issue, the mediator will likely want to review the draft (that you put together), and work off of that document for purposes of mediation.  How great is that!  You are giving the mediator the map, by which to guide your mediation process.


7.  Know the secrets that lawyers know.  Most people do not understand the legal process and its implications; you should consult with an attorney regarding the entire process.  Not all attorneys are exactly alike.  Attorneys have different styles and skill sets.  Your job is to ensure that your attorney is essentially the best at what he or she does.  Second place in divorce is first place loser.  Get an attorney that knows what they are doing.  Lawyers that dabble in divorce likely are unable to provide guidance and advice on all the various unique aspects of divorce law, and the process.  Anyone can look up a law, only a seasoned divorce lawyer knows how those laws interact with each other and how to use that interaction to your advantage.


8.  Know everything about your finances (or as much as you can right now).  If you have not been the one to keep track of money in your marriage, now is the time to learn all about your finances.  The more you know, the better off you are in negotiating a fair settlement.  Many spouses are stuck doing what is called "discovery" in their case, because they don't know anything about their finances.  Discovery takes time and money to complete, and much of it could be avoided with a well educated spouse. Knowledge is essential to completing any divorce case.


9.  If custody is going to be at issue, be prepared and know the custody process.  Having knowledge about the process is one of the most calming things that you can do.  A custody battle encompasses litigation and strategy, but more so, it involves a streamlined process.  This process has been developed by the Court system over the course of many years.  It's fairly automated and you can nearly set your watch by it.  Knowing how the process unfolds in a custody battle, will put many spouses at ease on how this all works.  The mystery of custody battles is what scares most parents.  Fear of the unknown.  However, if you take the time to educate yourself, you'll see why a custody battle isn't the terrible thing it once was (in the 1970s), and you'll better understand why many parents (moms and dads) have no issue with a custody battle, when seeking a determination of their rights.


If you have any questions about these topics,
please email Mr. Nordini at:  paul.nordini@divorceinfosite.com 
or call Mr. Nordini at (480) 527-9000