Divorce is a difficult time for all parties and filled with emotions including sadness, betrayal, anger, relief, confusion, and fear. Couple that with the navigation of a complex legal process and many people can feel overwhelmed. Luckily a skilled Utah divorce attorney like The Law Office of David Pedrazas, PLLC can help guide you through this challenging time. Here are 20 things your Utah divorce attorney wants you to know.
Take Time to Consider Decisions
There will be many big decisions to make when getting divorced, such as whether you need to sell your home. Making these decisions quickly is not always the best move. Take the time you need, and seek counsel, before making major life decisions.
It’s Not About Winning
Often people want a winner and a loser in a divorce case, but the truth is there rarely is a ‘winner’ in a divorce. There are so many issues at play — support, property division, child custody — and often compromises need to be made. Eliminating that mindset will help you emotionally as the case progresses.
Your Kids Are Not Getting Divorced
Children are often the most vulnerable in a divorce and can feel caught in the middle. Saying bad things about your spouse or ex-spouse in their presence can cause serious long-term harm to them and their relationship with you and your spouse or ex-spouse.
Unless there is neglect or abuse, your children should still have a relationship with both parents after the divorce. Making them choose sides is, quite frankly, cruel. If you feel yourself getting ready to say something nasty about your ex, close your eyes and count slowly to 10.
Counseling Can Help
The emotional whirlwind, major life changes, and consequences of a divorce can have a major impact on your mental health and that of your children. Seeking help from a trained therapist can help you sort through and cope with the myriad emotions and thoughts that come up during this traumatic time.
Every Case Is Different
Friends of yours who have been through a divorce can appear to be a helpful resource to give you advice and support. However, each divorce case is very different and often advice you get can be wrong or misleading. Your professional team — attorney, financial advisor, spiritual advisor, and mental health counselor — are well trained to give you sound advice.
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Live in the Present, Live for the Future
Ruminating on the past and how you may have been wronged is not helpful. It is best to move forward by staying in the present while planning your future. Be willing to work with your spouse to obtain the best result for you and your family. Think big picture. Does it really make sense to argue over that CD collection? Let some of the small stuff go.
Utah Requires a Divorce Education Class
Utah state law mandates a divorce orientation class for couples who have minor children and are considering a divorce. The divorce will not be finalized unless both parties complete the course, which reviews custody issues, child support and the divorce process.
People Will Know About It
Word of an impending divorce inevitably will spread through your community, church, and workplace. Be prepared for questions, some of which may be unintentionally insensitive.
Court is Not Like TV
Heading to court if negotiations go south is not ideal and can deplete assets for both sides. Multiple court appearances, filings and consultations are costly in both time and money. A skilled divorce attorney can work hard to resolve divorce proceedings without going to court.
Manage Your Expectations
Occasionally in a divorce, a party has aspirations that are either legally inconsistent or unreasonable. A quick resolution will be feasible if you have a full understanding of how the law applies to your case and you discuss your desired outcomes. A divorce attorney can explain the legal possibilities and what outcomes you can expect.
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People Will Take Sides
Family members and friends may have strong opinions on the divorce and will often choose a side. Friends, particularly couple friends, may be less available. Remember that often people hear only one side or have their own feelings on issues such as infidelity. Seek those who are there to support you and will give you wise counsel.
There Are Alternatives to Court (Mediation)
Mediation is an alternative to court appearances. In a mediated settlement, a neutral, third-party mediator who is trained to work on divorce courses conducts direct negotiations, face to face, with the divorcing parties. The mediator works to develop a mutual agreement and may recommend that the spouses consult attorneys while the mediation is in process.
There Are Alternatives to Court (Collaboration)
A collaborative divorce involves an agreement by all parties that the case will be resolved without going to court. A collaborative attorney represents each spouse. A team consisting of mental health professionals, child specialists, and neutral financial advisors like an accountant, may also be involved. The collaborative team resolves issues as they arise via face to face meetings, emails, and phone calls.
For your attorney to represent you effectively, there needs to be transparency. You need to be prepared to share facts and details about income, assets, debts, relationships, and intimate information. If you withhold information from your attorney, it may be known by your spouse, or discovered in a review of documents or by an investigator.
Take an Inventory
Make sure that you have photographs of items large and small, including:
- Furniture (inside and out)
- Collectibles (coins, records, stamps, books)
- Televisions, DVD players, Blu-ray players, printers, scanners, and discs
- Desktop computers, laptops, and tablets
Include a copy of that day’s paper in the photo to act as a time stamp. Include an estimated or appraised value with your listing of items that may be contested. Most importantly, do not destroy important documents such as pre-nuptial agreements.
It’s Not 50 Percent
The notion that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce is not true. In fact, the 2013 American Community Survey shows the actual number to be closer to 33 percent. In Utah, one of the states with the lowest divorce rate, it’s 9.2 percent.
Time Will Heal
Divorce is at times a gut-wrenching process, but the pain and wounds you may feel will heal. Mental health counseling, financial advice from a trusted professional, and legal counsel can help in sorting through the emotions of guilt, regret, anger, and sadness. These feelings are perfectly normal and may ebb and flow but eventually, will dissipate.
Parenting After a Divorce Can Be Hard
Whether you have sole legal custody or joint custody, being a loving and caring parent is more difficult after a divorce. Decisions, both major and miniscule, are either now yours alone or subject to negotiation with your ex-spouse. You may strongly disagree with your ex about parenting styles and decisions made without you. In all cases, remember not to put your kids in the middle and practice patience and self-control.
Violating a Divorce Decree Has Significant Consequences
A divorce decree is a legally binding agreement and violating any aspect of it can have serious ramifications. You may be held in contempt of court or have to file additional motions post-divorce, particularly if there is an issue of child support or alimony non-payment. The other most common issues include non-compliance in visitation schedules or withholding a visitation. Your attorney can advise on when courts or police need to be involved.
You Are a Good Person
Whether you filed for divorce or not, whether you cheated or were cheated upon, divorce does not define who you are. Blame, particularly self-blame, is easy to inflict. Divorce is admittedly painful, but can also allow for self-discovery and self-improvement. Your qualified Utah divorce attorney is an important member of your support team, will not judge you, and is a valuable resource before, during and after your divorce.