As divorce attorneys, naturally, we’ve given divorce advice to our close friends and family members. That being said, we’ve had clients say to us before, “If you were giving advice to your best friend or your brother or sister, what would you tell them to do?” Assuming we were doling out our best divorce advice to a client or someone who was close to us, here’s what we would say:
Don’t file for divorce unless you mean it.
Sometimes when couples argue, they’ll throw out the “divorce” threat, but in reality, they don’t mean it. They’ll even file divorce papers in hopes it will shock their spouse into changing for the better. But still, they’re no ready to take that step, but they do. Before they know it, they’ve reached the point of no return and there’s no turning back. Don’t file for divorce unless you’re certain you’re 100% ready. Otherwise, you could be ending your relationship prematurely, and setting yourself up for a lot of pain and disappointment.
Seek emotional support.
Even when the divorce is for the best, it has a way of making people an emotional train wreck. In effect, they may say and do irrational things that are completely out of character. Our advice is to see a counselor or a therapist, or even a pastor, a bishop, or a priest (for those who are religious). It’s very helpful to have a non-biased third-party act as a sounding board.
Copy all of the financial documents early.
If you and your spouse are amicable at the outset, great. Take advantage of this harmony and obtain copies of all of your financial information and forward them to your divorce attorney asap. This way, if things take a turn for the worse, critical financial documents won’t mysteriously disappear, which happens unfortunately.
Do what’s best for the kids.
No matter how you feel about your spouse or the divorce, you need to be mature and do what is in the best interests of the children. Maxing out your spouse’s credit cards will only leave less money for the children and damage your ex’s credit. Leaving the children with a babysitter on your weekends so you can start dating is probably not the best plan of action, especially if their emotions are raw because of the divorce. Also, if your ex is a loving parent and the split is fresh, it’s probably not the best time to move halfway across the country where your children would barely see your ex.
Secure family heirlooms.
You may not think about it, but during a divorce people’s cherished family heirlooms or valuables have a way of going missing. If you have wedding photos, videos of your children growing up, or even digital images of your family on the home computer, you may want to take steps to secure those right away. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for these items to disappear in the midst of a divorce.
Get educated on Pennsylvania’s divorce laws.
It’s NEVER a good idea to go into a divorce blindly. When people do that, they unknowingly make poor choices. Often, these poor choices cost them more time and money, or they negatively affect child custody. In order to protect yourself, get educated on your rights and responsibilities under Pennsylvania’s divorce laws. The best way to do that is to speak with an experienced divorce attorney.