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10 Before

Your Divorce Advisor Tips

10 Tips You Should Know Before You File for Divorce

  • Between 85% and 95% of all divorce cases settle before they go to trial, so it makes sense for many couples to try mediation rather than taking an adversarial position.
  • Before you file for divorce, think about your goals for the ultimate outcome of your case. You can only make good decisions in choosing how to file, whether or not to try mediation, how to select an attorney, and how to proceed if you know where you want to end up when it's all over.
  • Be aware of your motivations. If your top priority is your children, make sure that your decisions are really in their best interests, not just yours.
  • If you choose to represent yourself, get enough information from the court to do it well. Consider hiring a divorce lawyer by the hour to consult with you about special issues and to review your settlement. If you cannot afford a divorce lawyer, your local Bar association has divorce lawyer referral programs or a Legal Aid Society who may be able to help.
  • Only you can make the best decisions that will determine your future. Gather information, speak to trusted friends and qualified professionals, and use self-reflection to decide what's best for you. You're living with the decisions you make, but your divorce lawyer, the judge, and your best friend are not.
  • If the issue you're fighting about won't matter in 5 years, it probably doesn't matter now, so let go of it.
  • Address your legal questions to your divorce lawyer, and your psychological questions to a counselor or therapist.
  • If your goal is "justice" or to "tell the judge my story", keep in mind that no-fault laws, court over-crowding and pressure on judges to reduce court dockets may mean that you get little time or opportunity to testify. If you do get a chance to testify, the judge will make a decision that affects the rest of your life after hearing 5 minutes to a few hours' of testimony. Do you really want a stranger to make your decisions for you?
  • It's easy to get caught up in the stress of court procedures, or to become entrenched in a specific position. Periodically take time to reassess whether your actions are consistent with your ultimate goals.
  • No matter how much it may feel like your divorce will go on forever, there is an end. And no matter how hard it is to believe, when one door closes, another door opens.
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