About this time of year, many people start evaluating their lives and come to the conclusion that they should get divorces. Or, maybe their spouse has come forward and announced that he/she wants a divorce. If there's not immediate war, in many cases the spouses can choose a course of action that saves money and time, not to mention stress.
For those of you who don't want to spend your assets on fighting, here are some pointers on how to simplify your divorce.
1. Don't start a war. Be respectful and cooperative with each other. Carrying grudges and trying to exact revenge, even in small ways, will lead to anger and fighting. That costs money and will make for a slower divorce as you end up arguing over more and more small points.
2. Plan ahead. How do you want things to end? You might start off thinking everything will be divided 50-50, but that's often not the case. If you have special needs, like temporary support or retirement assets or job training or insurance, you should work on an overall plan that helps you end up with what you need, rather than an arbitrary 50%. Of course, that means you need to be considerate of your spouse's needs as well.
3. Do it right the first time. Unless yours is a very short marriage with no major assets and no kids, you need to work with a lawyer. You may not want to spend the money and you may think you can do it yourself, but you really should at least consult with an attorney and probably hire one. There's a lot a stake when you are getting divorced. Like it or not, divorces are usually complicated. You can avoid a lot of problems down the line by getting help as you go through the divorce process.
4. Choose the right attorney. I have written extensively in this blog and the Texas Collaborative Law Blog about how to choose an attorney. Be sure the chemistry is right and the attorney communicates effectively with you. Both attorneys and clients have different personalities and strengths. Make sure the attorney you choose is the best for you and your case. One size doesn't fit all!
5. Be willing to compromise. It really helps if you spend some time looking at the case from your spouse's perspective. It takes two to agree and normally neither of you can force the other to concede. Neither of you will get everything you want. Work with your attorney to come up with a negotiating strategy that is respectful and strategic. To get most of what you want, be ready to compromise.
If you follow these tips, you can simplify your divorce and avoid getting bogged down in a really bad experience. In fact, you should be able to have a good result, your spouse is more likely to be cooperative and maybe both of you can be friends (if that's what you want) post-divorce. Good luck!