Attorney Paul J. Sweeney
Do’s and Don’ts in Divorce
Our Take on What You Should and Should Not Do.
- Consult with an attorney as early as possible. Locate an attorney who practices in the Probate & Family Court in your county. The lawyer should be very familiar with the judges at your county’s Probate & Family courthouse. The judge assigned to your case will be making decisions for the duration of your case, including any modifications that may occur in the future. Knowledge of the judges can help determine the best strategy for your case.
- Stop the abuse. If you are considering divorce as a result of an abusive relationship, there are additional protections you may obtain. If you suffer from physical abuse, you may want to consider obtaining a 209A Restraining Order. If there is an incident where you are the victim of abuse - call the police. The police will inform you of your rights to apply for a Restraining Order. The police can contact an on-call judge who may grant you an immediate Restraining Order. You would then need to appear in court the next day to receive your paperwork. You should call your attorney when you have left the violent situation and are in a safe place. To obtain a 209A, you may appear in one of two courts – the District Court or the Family & Probate Court in your county of residence.
- Engage in therapy. If you have not yet consulted a therapist, it is important to obtain one. If you are in therapy, discuss your divorce! Divorce is a life changing event, no one gets married with the goal of ending the marriage by divorce. If you have children, the consequences of the divorce decision will impact them. Divorce is the death of a relationship and certain stages of grief are normal reactions to this end. However, divorce is not your death, it is just a transition.
- Prepare for your initial attorney interview. Most attorneys charge on an hourly basis, being prepared for your initial consult can save you time and money. Here are our top 5 tips.
- Write down your most important (1 – 3) questions that you need answered.
- Bring tax returns, if you can obtain them without difficulty. If not, don’t worry - your attorney will be able to get these documents at a later time.
- Start tracking finances. If your spouse is self-employed, keep records of cash payments.
- Leave with information. You should leave the consult with a firm grasp of the different methods of obtaining a divorce, including; alternative dispute resolution, negotiated settlements, and litigation strategies.
- Leave with a strategy. How would your attorney proceed and do you agree?
- Focus on your children. Do not discuss the divorce with your children. Do not disparage your spouse to the children. Parents are the leaders of a child’s universe, when one disparages the other it creates an unresolvable conflict within the child (of any age). If your child brings up the divorce, learn to deflect their questions. Your therapist and attorney can assist you with some appropriate strategies.