- Don’t Put Children in the Middle of your Divorce. If you have children, this is the most important resolution. Separation and divorce is a difficult time for parents and children alike. Children are learning how to transition from a single, two-parent household, to a two-household family. There may be different rules, different privileges, and generally different environments from one household to another. The children need to feel free to love both parents equally without the weight of adult issues weighing on their minds and hearts. In this period of transition, the children need to be worried about the things all children worry about like “what’s for dinner”, “can I get that new video game that I really want”, “will my little league team win this weekend?” All too often, we find that parents begin treating their children like their friends and peers. The long-time psychological effects on the children of confiding in them and discussing adult issues regarding separation and divorce can be devastating and sometimes it backfires on the parent putting the child in the middle of the divorce. It is best to show your children, even if it isn’t exactly the case, that divorce or separation can be amicable and that both parents still love the children.
- Be Civil. Separation and divorce often comes with hurt feelings, a desire for vengeance, and a need to air grievances. Being civil with one another is often easier said than done. Keep in mind, being contentious and litigious is expensive. If you are able to resolve issues of equitable distribution, alimony, child custody, or child support by agreement, then do it. You will save yourself time and money. In court, especially in alimony and child custody matters, it is inevitable that each party puts on evidence about the wrong doings of the other party, which may include affairs, alcohol or drug abuse, gambling addictions, and parenting shortfalls. If you have children, after the dust of a trial has settled, you are expected to co-parent with the person you just tried to destroy in court. Needless to say, co-parenting after that type of warfare isn’t easy. Often making the decision to separate is about admitting that your relationship has failed and moving forward with new, hopefully happier, relationships. Moving forward is difficult to do if you are still holding on to anger and living in the past. While you can’t reason with someone who is unreasonable, if litigation is the only option, make sure you are working with an attorney you trust and who will be your advocate.
- Follow Instructions. Attorneys don’t give their clients deadlines and work to complete without good reason. Your attorney cannot help you if you are not willing to help yourself. For example, if your attorney asks for twelve months of bank and credit card statements within two weeks, get those documents just as requested. You are paying your attorney for his or her advice and guidance, so make sure you follow it! Everyone has busy schedules, so that excuse will not cut it before a judge if you fail to comply with the requirements of litigation. You must set aside time to handle the tasks required by all court proceedings. Make the time to do what your attorney has asked so that he or she can be as prepared as possible to advocate on your behalf!
- Take Care of Yourself. Separation and divorce isn’t easy. As some point you swore to love and cherish this person until death do you part, but, unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. If you need someone to talk to that isn’t a friend or a relative, seek counseling. If you are having feelings of depression or anxiety, talk to your primary care physician. If you need a vacation to disconnect or re-center yourself (assuming you don’t have a court hearing and you have the vacation time), take the vacation! This process can be physically and emotionally draining, and you can’t forget to take care of yourself.
Contact Dozier Miller’s Family Law Team.