100 DIVORCE RULES TO LIVE BY (ranked in no particular order)
1. Start to gather documents are quickly as possible after making a decision that your marriage is over.
2. Speak with a lawyer early in the process even if you’re only just thinking about things but haven’t yet made a decision. You want to know what to expect and what you are dealing with before you actually take the plunge.
3. Give marriage counseling a try as a last resort.
4. Hire a private investigator if you suspect your spouse is up to no good.
5. Yes, you can put GPS on the car if you own the car.
6. No, you can’t bug the phone and you can’t put spyware on the computer as general rule.
7. Hire an asset locater if you think your spouse is likely to hide assets.
8. Get the courts to freeze assets if you think that your spouse will dissipate or transfer assets.
9. In some jurisdictions, the person who is at fault could be made to “pay more” to the injured spouse. In other words, if your spouse committed adultery, you may get more in spousal support. So get the evidence you need to prove your allegations.
10. You can get a divorce without having to prove anybody did anything wrong; so where possible, just go with irreconcilable differences since its “cheaper” and it takes less time (usually) to be adjudicated.
11. The courts will usually award custody to the parent who can demonstrate they are the main caregiver for the children and can provide for the children’s best interest. So start long before you file to establish yourself as the most fit parent if you think that will be an issue. But more and more courts are going for shared or joint custody.
12. 1. Try to be considerate in how you ask for the divorce to reduce the likelihood of a blowback, like violence…
13. Only ask for a divorce after you have exhausted all other options.
14. Try a collaborative model if you think it would work for you and your spouse (mediation).
15. Try not to go to war unless absolutely necessary.
16. Be reasonable with each other.
17. Don’t try to hide assets in anticipation of the divorce because chances are you will be caught.
18. Realize that a marriage takes two to end in divorce so don’t point fingers.
19 . Accept that sometimes it just doesn’t work out and maybe the divorce is for the best and move on as quickly as possible.
20 . Select the right lawyer.
21. Look out for yourself and get your fair share.
22. Leave the kids out of the fracas
23. Share custody if you can; children need both parents.
24. Pay your child support obligations because one of the consequences is jail time.
25. Don’t alienate the children from the other parent.
26. Give step-parents a fighting chance to bond with the kids.
27. Don’t be upset if the kids prefer to live with the other parent.
28. Co-parenting is a good word, use it and live it.
29. Get family counseling if it will help the family heal.
30. Don’t relocate with the kids if you don’t have to.
31. Don’t kidnap the kids.
32. Draft a parenting plan and try to stick to it, but leave room for flexibility.
33. Make sure you interview the lawyer and compare him or her to others before signing an agreement.
34. Make sure you understand the agreement you sign with your lawyer.
35. Honor your agreement and pay as promised.
36. Work with your lawyer not against.
37. Change lawyers only if you absolutely must and try not to have more than two lawyers.
38. Listen to your lawyer and follow their advice unless it is clearly contrary to your goals but remember that your goals may not be realistic and the lawyer has the legal experience and knowledge that you don’t have.
39. Remember that you pay for everything including phone calls so don’t use your lawyer like your shrink – its’ expensive.
40. Only be your own lawyer if there is absolutely no recourse.
41. Don’t communicate with your spouse’s lawyer behind your lawyer’s back.
42. Always read the fine print.
43. Stay in touch with your friends during the divorce and lean on them for support.
44. Try not to badmouth your ex with your friends and trash talk in front of the kids.
45. Don’t ask your mutual friends to pick sides.
46. Try not to take it personally if your friends in fact pick sides.
47. Try not to mimic friends who divorce – get a divorce vaccine if your friends are breaking up around you otherwise you could prematurely wind up divorce.
48. If your friend is the reason for your divorce (aka they slept with your spouse) don’t kill him or her. But its okay to never talk to them again.
49. Don’t expect your friends to re-arrange their entire life to be there for you when your marriage ends. Remember that they have their own lives, marriages and schedules so don’t take it personally if they aren’t always able to be there to hold your hand.
50. Observe how your friends respond during this difficult time and it’s quite alright to make adjustments post-divorce, if you feel that a so called friend wasn’t there for you at all. (It’s okay to question, “is this person really a friend?”)
51. Make new friends with folks in support groups and forums who understand exactly what you are going through.
52. Don’t forget to continue to be a friend yourself. Everybody has their own problems so don’t be too self-absorbed with your divorce.
53. You family probably needs some family counseling and you should arrange it.
54. After divorce you probably will deal with some “blended family” issues and so be prepared to deal with that.
55. Just because you are divorced doesn’t mean that you and your ex can’t be a “family” for the sake of the children. You can.
56. Stay close to “family” if you can for the benefit of the children (stay in the same town where possible.
57. It’s okay to still like your in laws and to still keep in touch with them.
58. If you have a volatile relationship with the in laws, you don’t HAVE to let them visit with the children; but weigh this in favor of the children and what is in the children’s best interest.
59. Don’t bring home every single date, wait till it matters before introducing new people to young children.
60. By all means go out and meet new people as soon as possible.
61. Get comfortable with being alone and engage in self-evaluation before dating seriously and/or getting married again.
63. Don’t compare new love interests to your ex spouse unfairly.
64. Try online dating if appropriate.
65. Don’t flaunt your new dating conquests at your ex to make him or her jealous.
66. Don’t encourage the children to call new dates “mommy” or “daddy” knowing that this will upset your ex spouse.
67. Get new stuff like new outfits, a new haircut or lingerie.
68. Try a new “type.”
69. Avoid having booty calls with the ex since this can be confusing.
70. Be slow to have post-divorce booty calls with complete strangers. Vet them carefully first.
71. Don’t kill your spouse or his/her new lover.
72. Domestic violence could cost you custody- just remember that.
73. Don’t accuse a spouse of domestic violence if it is not true.
74. You will have to prove the violence so be prepared to show police reports, hospital records, present witnesses to the violence, and have pictures that show the violence against you.
75. You can prosecute domestic violence in both family court and criminal court.
76. Either spouse can be charged with domestic violence.
77 Face the hurt and own the pain – it will make the healing process easier.
78. Give yourself permission to grieve, just not forever.
80. Actively seek ways to move on with your life, go from negative to positive as quickly as possible.
81. Make a clean break and get far away if there was violence (your life could depend on it.)
82. Let go.
83. Seek help with your divorce recovery process if you need it.
84. Keep in mind that alimony is not an automatic right – even if you are married to a rich spouse.
85. If you are in the military, there may be some special rules that apply, especially with your pension. So make sure to point this out to your attorney if either you or your spouse is in the military.
86. You’re usually not entitled to health insurance after a divorce so take steps to get insured post-divorce, including taking advantage of COBRA.
87. Depending on your religion (Muslim, Jewish) you may need to take additional steps for your divorce to be finalized. Like getting a GET from your Beth Din. So just do it.
88. Be sure to get the final judgment of divorce (signed by the judge and entered in the court) before you get married again (this could be bigamy which is a felony or misdemeanor.)
89. Don’t miss deadlines and exceed the statute of limitations
90. Your pets are your babies but don’t expect the Courts to treat them that way (Pets are property in most jurisdictions.)
91.Don’t get on the judge’s bad side by disrespecting the court.
92. Don’t lie in your financial affidavits.
93. Choose the right jurisdiction if you are the plaintiff; if you are the defendant, see if you can move the case to a more favorable jurisdiction if need be.
94. Avoid fake divorces and other fraudulent schemes to “save on money and taxes” and stuff like that; and green cared marriages/divorces.
95. Know thine assets including the pensions (and know the rules for dividing up these assets or make sure to get an attorney who does.)
96. Who says there’s no such thing as an “amicable” divorce?
97. Don’t neglect the tax issues (divorce can be a tax landmine sometimes)
98. Do your due diligence the first time.
99. Remember that everything is open to negotiation and reconciliation.
100. Don’t sign anything till you agree with EVERY provision; that includes but is not limited to retainer agreements, settlement agreements and property settlement agreements.
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