Words of Wisdom From Divorce Lawyers
The divorce rate in the US is roughly 50% - meaning that half of US marriages end in divorce. The process for getting a divorce in Massachusetts can be long, expensive and traumatic. If there are children, their health and well-being need to be the primary consideration when spouses are deciding how to end the marriage.
Now the good news, everything will be okay. Once the dust clears and the divorce is over, the new family unit is stronger and happier. The children will adjust and so will you.
Making decisions before the divorce action starts
- If you think you can “save a marriage for the children” or “stick it out for a few more years for the kids” you’re only hurting yourself and the children;
- Keep copies of all financial records and life insurance policies in a safe place, out of the home, in case you require them for your divorce;
- Make sure you have all passwords to all financial accounts and social media;
- Written communication is an exception to marital privilege and will not be excluded. Keep written communications benign. Do not threaten. Do not engage in
antagonisticbehavior. Remember, your spouse is the person who knows how to get under your skin faster than anyone and whatever he or she has written to make you angry is often not apparent to outsiders, such as a judge. Do not take the bait;
- Separating indefinitely without filing for divorce can lead to financial damage. There are protections that go into effect when a divorce is filed, for example, the Rule 411 Automatic Restraining Order that protects marital finances, and the effective end date of the marriage to calculate the duration of alimony (i.e. how long alimony is paid);
- If you are separated, but you have not retained counsel and no divorce has been filed, be careful of any agreement (financial, parenting, etc.) that you enter into because it may become the status quo once a divorce is filed and temporary orders issued by the Court;
- Litigation is not always the first choice. Mediation or a collaborative approach to a divorce is usually the best way to go; however, your divorce can still be settled at any time even after you have filed a Complaint
forDivorce with the Court;
- Even if you think your children are ok, that they don’t understand, or that they are handling it well…chances are they are extremely confused and scared. The children do not need to know everything, but they do need some explanation and assurance that they will be fine. If you can, talk to them together;
- Leaving the house does not mean you sacrifice your right to a percentage of the equity. If it is best for you and your family to separate from your spouse, then do it;
- Find yourself a good therapist; and
- Find your children a good therapist.
During the divorce
- Every penny you spend on litigation costs is one less penny that you have available to pay for college education, weddings, retirement, etc.;
- There are no do-overs in divorce: you do not get to undo things that you agreed to during the marriage because you now find yourself getting a divorce. Taking positions like this leads to higher fees and protracted litigation;
- Again, be careful how you communicate, especially in writing;
- If you reach an agreement on anything with the other spouse get it in writing. Even a text can go a long way when asking the Court to uphold a verbal agreement;
- Remember that your children are going through the divorce too. They should NEVER be used as sounding boards for your anger, leverage against your spouse, or messengers;
- Good Will does not always breed Good Will. Be strategic and listen to your attorney;
- Do not argue with your spouse in front of the children. Do not share divorce related material with your children. Do not insult or bad mouth your spouse to your children;
- Engaging in a relationship with someone other than your spouse while going through a divorce is usually a sure-fire way to ensure the process, the time, and the expense is doubled. If you choose to be involved with someone else before your divorce is final, DO NOT flaunt the relationship in front of your spouse;
- If you have a third party in your life, he or she should not be introduced to your children until an acceptable time period after your divorce is over;
- If you have children, the family will continue long after the divorce. That is a lifelong connection to your ex-spouse and taking unreasonable positions, being overly aggressive or antagonistic for the sole purpose of making things harder, etc. will result in repercussions for years after the divorce is over; and
- Remember that there is a bigger picture in this process and the sooner you can move on from your immediate anger and see the bigger picture, the better you will be when it is over.
When The divorce is over
- Change is rarely easy, but it is necessary and usually for the best;
- Follow the terms of your Divorce Agreement or the Court Judgment. Don’t keep the litigation going by refusing to comply;
- Alternatively, don’t run to Court for things that are minor and insignificant. If there are substantial issues that need to be addressed with your ex-spouse, address them (even if it requires legal action), but don’t go to Court so often you’re on a first-name basis with the Judge;
- Two wrongs never make a right; and
- Move on with your life. Let your ex-spouse move on with his or her life. Help your children move on with their lives.
If you are contemplating a divorce, consult with an attorney. You want your attorney to be the right fit, and you may need to meet with a few different people before you find the best person for your needs. That is okay – most attorneys offer a complimentary consultation. Just make sure that whoever you retain is willing to try to work out an amicable agreement for you and is equally willing and able to take you through the entire divorce from start to finish, whether your case is settled or goes to trial.
Cynthia Auckly-Barbuto, Esq.
in collaboration with the legal team at
Grossman & Associates, Ltd.