So, your loved one (or you) has been Ashley Madisonized. And now you are
splitting up. What should you do next for divorce or custody? A brief
guide for the perplexed.
Get calm: Do not make any decisions out of anger or guilt. Your best bet is to get
into a state of mind where you can make considered and smart decisions.
Act in haste -> repent at leisure.
Contact a local attorney: Find someone who
- Practices in your local county
- Solely or largely does family law
- Is experienced. Family law differs from state to state and even county to county
Get somebody local who knows the lay of the land. And get somebody who
does divorce, custody and support all day long. Nobody can be an expert
on multiple ares of the law. Becoming a good attorney takes experience.
Law school teaches an attorney next to nothing about how to actually handle
Even if you are not sure about getting divorced, meeting with an attorney
can let you know your options, obstacles and opportunities.
If you have kids: Put your kids first but never in the middle. Do NOT put them in the middle.
Do not disparage their other parent to them. This is likely to permanently
damage your children - even if everything you say is true. Also, you will
be a part of each other's lives for the rest of your lives. 15 years
from now, you don't want to poison your child's wedding with bitterness
between parents. Separate the spouse from the co-parent. Feel free to
hate the first, but respect the second.
Stay liquid. You might be tempted to splurge out of sadness. Don't. Staying liquid
is about the best thing you can do for your case. Getting divorced is
like moving. Everybody knows it costs a lot but it is still more expensive
then you expect. Being liquid increases your range of options, insulates
you from leverage and allows you to benefit fully from legal counsel.
Feel free to splurge if you maintain significant liquid funds after the
divorce. And you should not have splurged in the first place if you don't
have funds afterwards.
Keep your head up. Millions of people have gone through what you are experiencing now and
made it to the other side. Consider working out regularly to help with
the stress and anxiety. Don't hesitate to get counseling. The court
will not hold that against you. And keep connected to family and friends.
They can give you perspective, strength and resources.
Don't be stupid. The Internet is full of ha-ha slide shows showing creative and destructive
ways of getting "revenge" on a cheating ex. Or who boast of
"getting one over" their spouse. Those people are not clever.
They are stupid.
By engaging in such behavior, you will anger the judge. And you will lose
the higher ground. And
you will likely pay for every scratch you put in your ex's car. Revenge
is a dish best served cold.
Collect documentation. Pay stubs, tax returns, 401(k) statements, appraisals etc. can all help
your attorney help you, and without the cost of discovery. Your attorney,
or the other side, will probably ask you to provide certain documentation.
You can help yourself by doing so promptly and thoroughly.
Fairness. In family court, formula for a fair resolution is based on what you are
likely to get if you go to trial. A resolution is generally "fair"
if it is as good, or better, as the expected outcome. Most cases do not
go to trial, but any case
could go to trial and so this remains the standard. The family court will not
give you "justice" in the religious, moral or philosophical
sense. It is not even a "justice system", though justice always
remains a goal. It is a means of reaching either the best interests of
the child or the statutory divorce goals. My local court sees thousands
of cases a year and literally lacks the resources to care about every
case. This is why it is so important that your attorney care about your case.
Your Attorney. This blog is general advice. Good advice depends on the facts of a case,
personalities of the litigants, local rules and local judges. So, in case
of conflict, listen to your attorney. If you have chosen well, your counsel
will know your particular case, rules and judge.