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Ten Great Ideas for People Who Are Getting a Divorce

1) Get a box and fill it with a few years of tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, statements from IRA accounts/stock accounts/other accounts, Payroll stubs. Put everything in chronological order (so you don't have to pay your lawyer or his/her assistant to do it). Throw in deeds for any real estate you own and a copy of the registration to your car(s). Do you have financial documents relating to your spouse??? They go in the box, too. Don't have everything? Toss in what you've got and don't worry about getting more until/unless the lawyer says you need to.

2) Deliver the box (from #1) to your lawyer along with a completed Financial Affidavit (he/she will have the form) listing your monthly income and living expenses and everything you own and everything you owe. (Note: Don't value what you own at the amount you paid for it.... talk to your lawyer about how to value things, so you won't have issues down the road.)

3) Don't argue with your spouse. Here is how to decide whether it is an argument or a discussion: If blood pressure or anxiety goes up... his/her's OR yours... then it's an argument. Say: "I'm really not ready to talk about this now." or "I'm too upset to talk about this now." or "Let's talk about this later." ... and walk away. Try not to say "You'll be hearing from my lawyer." That sounds too much like a threat. Mumble something about the weather being nice. The weather is always a nice, neutral subject. Say "I'm just confused." Note: You don't have to BE confused to claim you are confused.

4) If you find yourself discussing who-gets-what with your spouse one night after dinner - or after an argument - or when his/her mother is visiting... DON'T commit to details of an agreement settling things unless you are SURE that you have the upper hand. It is harder to back down from something you said you agreed to than it is to put off making an agreement until...1) You can have a chance to think things out...2) You can get advice (and some hand-holding) from someone you trust...and 3) You can resolve ALL of the issues. Just deciding who's going to get the Chevy Tahoe isn't going to help settle who the kids are going to live with. Don't give away your interest in the Tahoe just to get him/her to be quiet for a while.

5) Be nice. Or, at least, try to be nice...(in your attitude and demeanor....not in your generosity or willingness to give stuff away). "You can attract more bees with honey....." usually beats "nice guys finish last." Not good at appearing to be nice? Try.

6) Be strong. I don't want to be politically incorrect or insulting... but wimpy, spineless people who refuse to stick up for themselves or who accept being used as a doormat do poorly in divorces. A strong lawyer can make up for a wishy-washy client....somewhat. Buck up.

7) Ignore stupid things your spouse says. Here is an example: If your spouse says: "I'm going to get the kids and you're never going to see them.", the obvious response is "You're an idiot, you're not getting the kids. The Judge will see that you're a drunk." The smart response is "Darn it. I just broke a nail." Here is why: If you respond to your spouse's stupid pronouncements - about the kids, finances, whatever - he/she will have to spend time, money and effort defending what they said. And, really, 10 seconds after they said it, they realized it was stupid. But, since you acknowledged the stupid statement instead of ignoring it and since he/she can't ever admit to you that it was a stupid thing to say, they'll defend what was said (almost) to their death.

8) There is light at the end of the tunnel. After a while, your divorce will be over. And, you'll get to the end as along as you put one foot in front of the other. Do what you've got to do one step at a time... not all at once. Don't try to figure out who'll get what and what the time sharing schedule with the kids will be, and the resolution of every other issue, during your first visit to the first lawyer you are considering hiring.

9) Lawyers want to get your business. The best way to get your business is to tell you what you want to hear. Rich lawyers (a lot of them, at least) will promise you the world and worry later about how they're going to deliver. Going to a lawyer your friend recommended? Nobody is going to admit having a crappy lawyer any more than their going to admit buying a car that breaks down all the time. They're smart...they hired the best...and they're not going to admit it to you if they didn't. And, when you tell the lawyer who referred you, what the lawyer hears is "He/she trusts me....I can jack up my fee." Not all lawyers do this, of course and a lot of lawyers really are great at lawyering.

10) See a movie. Preferably, see a few......comedies. Hollywood spends a lot of time and effort producing stuff that will get you to laugh. Go. Laugh. You'll feel better.

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