BY: Jodi Furr Colton, Esq. | Brinkley Morgan
Getting divorced often takes a very long time – or at least it will feel that way if it is happening to you. In the words of one client, and probably more, “getting divorced sucks.” Here are four ways to make it less painful for you, and your lawyer.
Tell the truth.
Be forthcoming. It is essential that you tell your lawyer the truth. Working with your divorce lawyer is a lot like describing symptoms to your doctor. You want to give him or her all the relevant information, and even some details that you aren’t sure are important. And, don’t leave out the embarrassing details. It may be a little awkward to talk about your multiple affairs or your predilection for adult websites, but you will fare better in the long run if you just fess up now. Your divorce lawyer, much like your doctor, has heard it all before. More importantly, don’t spring these little details on your lawyer in the hallway before heading into court or let them come out for the first time at you deposition. Your lawyer will want to know ahead of time that you cashed in your 401k and spent the money on your new girlfriend, or that you pawned your wedding ring to buy a new Louis Vuitton bag. Both problems are resolvable, but will be a lot harder to deal with if you are doing so on the defensive.
Don’t gossip, even about yourself.
People love to give advice to friends getting divorced and offer their two cents. Don’t listen to the spectators. They are not divorce lawyers and even if they are, they are not your divorce lawyer. Every case is different. Just because Susie down the street got 10 years of alimony doesn’t mean you will. If you have questions, ask your lawyer and if you aren’t confident in your lawyer’s answers then find a new one.
Also, sharing the specific details of your case with friends may backfire. All too often, the “friend” you have been confiding in is a “double agent”—someone pretending to be on your side but really just gathering information for your spouse. Also undesirable are the “helpers”—those with good intentions who are trying to help you and your spouse work things out, which usually doesn’t work at all. During your divorce it’s best not divulge details to more than a couple of your closest relatives or friends.
Getting divorced is pretty unpleasant and your lawyer should do what he or she can to make the process less unpleasant, but you will have to do some work too. You lawyer will probably ask you to gather a mountain of documents or do other time consuming and boring tasks. Feel free to ask why–because you should always be informed about the process and the reason behind your lawyers instructions or advice—but don’t complain or give you lawyer and his or her office staff a hard time. If they ask for something, it’s because they need it. The more time you spend complaining, the longer it will take, and the more money you will spend.
Do unto others.
If you act like an ass, odds are your spouse will too. That will not get you divorced any faster and it will probably cost you more money in the long run. Being difficult with your spouse typically just increases the amount of time it takes to accomplish the task at hand. Time is money and you don’t want to spend all of yours on legal fees.
Jodi Furr Colton is a Boca Raton attorney with the law firm of Brinkley Morgan. She focuses her practice on divorce, alimony, equitable distribution, parental responsibility and timesharing. Jodi is a graduate of Harvard Law School, Swarthmore College and Pine Crest. She is happily married and the mother of two. Learn more here, or telephone 561-665-4738.