Over the years, I have helped guide many clients through many divorces, both amicable and and not so amicable. I have seen firsthand what an emotional and difficult process it can be to exit a marriage that was supposed to last forever. I have also gathered some easy-to-follow pointers to help my clients who find themselves filing for divorce.
Because Divorce is a very emotional process. , You shouldn’t feel ashamed if you need some guidance during the decision-making process. Take it from a Maryland divorce lawyer with experience and expertise in all aspects of Family Law—nobody should be without legal support assistance
Here are 14 Do’s and Don’t’s of Divorce:
- Hire an experienced divorce attorney, one who knows the ins and outs of Maryland law when it comes to divorce, alimony, custody, property division, child support, and protective orders. Other “special” areas of expertise, depending on your situation, may include experience with immigration, familiarity with LGBTQ/polyamory-specific issues, or bi-lingual skills. You want someone who has your best interest at heart and who can advise you on the best options to finalize your divorce. A good attorney will be culturally sensitive, open to your needs, and willing to work with your entire support system. A good attorney should also help resolve disputes with your spouse and will fight for your rights if the divorce ends up in court.
- Be honest and transparent with your attorney. We need to be prepared for anything that may come up in a court battle so that we can best represent you. You should feel comfortable disclosing any and all relevant information to your attorney. Trust in the fact that an attorney will not disclose private information without your consent.
- Gather paperwork, such as tax returns, pension statements, brokerage statements, credit card statements. You will need copies of all of your financial documents. If there are children, you should also gather medical records and school records. Please also make a list of all your real property and major assets—things like houses, boats, and cars.
- Make a paper trail for everything. If you owe your spouse money and repay it, keep documentation. If you share any joint accounts, make sure you have paperwork proving that you both have access and use that account. You may also want to start primarily communicating with your former spouse via email or text, or other forms of written communication.
- Plan your finances for after the divorce. You will have attorney fees to pay. You may have to take alimony or child support into account. If you are keeping the house, your taxes will be different. You may have to pay for child care or set up a new household. Make sure that you are fully informed and that you have budgeted for these changes. There may additional new expenses after the divorce, like college tuition fees or medical expenses. Your separation agreement should include language regarding not only possible future contingencies, but also language about how to modify any existing arrangement you have with your former spouse.
- Consider seeing a therapist or counselor. Divorce is difficult, and you need to feel mentally strong. Therapists can help guide you through your emotional journey. If you have children, think about obtaining therapeutic services for them, as well. The divorce process doesn’t just involve you and your former spouse—children, even older children—are emotionally involved as well.
- Update important legal documents, including your will, any sort of life insurance or pension, healthcare proxy, and power of attorney. An attorney can help you with this.
- No matter how many awful things your soon-to-be ex-spouse may have done, always take the high road. Do not allow yourself to be emotionally manipulated into self-sabotage. This includes sending threatening emails, letters, texts, voicemails, or any other type of traceable communication to your former spouse. These types of messages can be used against you. At worst, you could be placed under a protective order which could incur criminal charges and negatively affect child custody rights. Don’t retaliate by being rude to the opposing attorney or by being late to meetings or court hearings. Whatever has happened to lead you to this point, it is important that you present yourself as your best self.
- Speaking of adults in the room, remember that your children are not getting divorced: you are. Don’t use them as pawns or ask them to choose sides. You want them to remain as unscathed as possible by the experience, so please consult a therapist before discussing the details of the divorce process with them. You should also avoid confronting your children on “choosing a side” or “picking a parent.” Children, especially young children, can be traumatized by such conversations. It may be best to have those conversations in the presence of a licensed therapist.
- Do not hide or transfer any assets. This makes you look suspicious and may hurt you in the long run. Even if there is as previous agreement about a financial asset, it should be mentioned and dealt with in any sort of separation agreement.
- Be cautious when it comes to involving other romantic partners in the divorce process. If the presence/existence of a new romantic partner is a sore point between you and your former spouse, do not involve the new partner in any part of the divorce proceedings. Unless there is a previously established, amicable relationship between your new partner, your former spouse, and your children, it is not wise to involve any new partners in custody or visitation arrangements. Know that the new partner is not considered a “party” to the divorce proceedings.
- If possible, hold off on on any major life changes (such as pregnancy, a new job, major purchases, or moving residences) while the divorce proceeding is pending. Since these types of situations can complicate and change the financial and custodial arrangements of a divorce, any major changes can delay or alter the terms of the divorce.
It is important that the divorce attorney you hire cares about both you and your children. The attorneys at Zirkin and Schmerling Law will ensure you receive appropriate monetary awards, time with your kids, and fair treatment throughout the divorce process. We also try to keep a divorce moving along as efficiently and smoothly as possible.
An amicable divorce is better for everyone involved, allowing both parties to move on with their lives. Bitter divorces are often expensive and time-consuming, and are also very difficult for children to handle. Our office works hard to protect your legal rights without sacrificing your time, money, or emotional health.
If you are filing or considering a divorce contact Zirkin and Schmerling Law right away. We will connect you with an experienced divorce attorney in Maryland, who can help you get through this trying time and move on to the next chapter of your life.