Often, when people think of divorce, they picture a drawn out, frustrating, and contentious ordeal. And while less common, smooth, amicable divorces are possible- they just take the right mindset, some planning, and someone knowledgeable in the divorce process to guide the way.
The reality is that some divorces are able to be resolved without going to trial, which can dramatically decrease the expenses related to the divorce process. Mediation is one alternative to litigation. It is often a one-day event that requires a clear negotiation strategy – and that is where an attorney may be of help to you. If the idea of working out the details of your divorce agreement with your spouse isn’t pleasant, remember that having an attorney and a mediator can help create a safe atmosphere to freely discuss your concerns and work on coming to a communal arrangement. Emotional topics like child custody may benefit even more from your willingness to mediate; because you know your children’s specific needs best. If you are interested in learning more about what all mediation entails, read through our blog post on how mediation can save money during a divorce.
Whether you choose mediation or litigation, there are many ways you can help make the divorce process go more smoothly.
Getting Your Personal House in Order
Making smart personal decisions and doing good preparation for your divorce isn’t going to be fun or easy, but it is one area that is completely under your own control. The more prepared and informed you are, the smoother the process will be.
Get counseling & assemble your personal support “team”
The challenges of going through a divorce can be very emotional, so it’s important to make sure to take care of yourself. Gather your support network, which might include family and friends as well as formal support groups and a counselor, to help you cope with the ups and downs of ending a marriage.
Be open and receptive with your lawyer
For your attorney to present your case well, they must have accurate and complete information from you. The investigation process focuses on all of the issues and circumstances related to your marriage and not all of it may be comfortable to discuss. Don’t forget that your lawyer has been through many divorce cases and has experience in what to look out for and advise. It’s important to remain open to communicating honestly with your lawyer, no matter how difficult the subject might be. Your attorney can’t prepare for situations they aren’t aware of, so make sure to fully share the details of your case.
Start gathering your documentation
Gathering documents can become one of the most time consuming parts of a divorce case, and the more time your lawyer has to spend assisting you, the higher their cost will be. Most lawyers will provide you a checklist of documents that are needed in your case, and proactively collecting and organizing them will make the process go much more smoothly.
Be cautious with emails, texts, and social media
If you are in the process of getting divorced, you have to be extremely careful about what you send and post via any type of electronic communication. Even if your messages seem harmless, emails, texts, and social media can be used as evidence in divorces. It’s important not to speak badly about your spouse or ex-spouse on social media, texts, or emails as any false comments, threats, or criticisms can lead to harmful results in a divorce. A good rule of thumb is not to post/text/email anything you wouldn’t want to be used against you in court later. Most details about this topic can be found in our previous blog post about social media use during divorce.
Dealing with Your Spouse
There are several reasons to try to maintain a civil relationship with your former spouse during and after divorce. If you have children, communication will be an important part of your co-parenting responsibilities. Whatever the reason, it helps to find ways to remain civil with each other, despite how you may be feeling towards him or her.
Keep communication open with your spouse as much as possible
Communication with your spouse is absolutely necessary if you want your divorce to be as smooth and inexpensive as possible. If you and your spouse can’t communicate directly, that means your lawyers are forced to do all of the communication on your behalf and you will be billed for every communication. Having a “script” to work from can take some of the emotion out of face-to-face communication. Pick a time when you’re feeling calm to write down all the points you want to discuss to use as your guide.
No one involved is going to benefit from a dragged out, unnecessarily long divorce; they are emotionally and financially exhausting. The reality is that it’s very unlikely you will get 100% of what you want. Compromising forces you to make a list of priorities that can help keep you on track and moving forward. Also, the less time you spend debating every issue, the less expensive your divorce will be. Continuing to argue on principle or negotiate for what you believe is “fair” can cost you greatly in the long run.
If Children are Involved
Do not forget that divorce affects children just as much as it does adults. During a divorce, parents can do a lot to ease the child’s transition. Do your best to keep your conflicts with your spouse away from your children. Ongoing parental conflict increases kids’ risk of psychological and social problems.
Avoid sharing all the details or bad mouthing your spouse to your children
There are many reasons why parents should strive to treat each other with respect and compassion during and after a divorce, but the most important reason is to minimize the negative affect on their child(ren). Children learn how to process emotions and negotiate challenges by watching those closest to them. In most large counties in Texas, once a divorce is filed, there are standing orders (a set of rules established by the judges) that prohibit you from making derogatory comments about your spouse within hearing or on social media that your child could have access to.
Don’t use children as a go-between
Sometimes when a parent going through a divorce doesn’t want to speak to their spouse, they use their children to deliver messages instead of speaking to their spouse directly. This is not a good idea. It is in the best interests of the children for both parents to stay active in their children’s lives during the divorce, but not to make them part of the daily discussions about it. This is a heavy burden to lay on a child emotionally, and if a judge becomes aware of it, it will not be well received. There are multiple online communication tools, such as Our Family Wizard, that can be used to help facilitate communication between co-parents without involving the children.
Consider family counseling or co-parenting classes
Family counseling can be a helpful outlet for children to process feelings associated with their parents’ divorce. When children have an idea of what to expect, they are less likely to suffer from anxiety, confusion, fear, and frustration surrounding the divorce. Co-parenting classes teach parents the skills to maintain an effective relationship that will provide a nurturing environment for their children and to help their children adjust to the new changes in their life.
Choose an Experienced Texas Divorce Attorney
Kelly J. Capps is a knowledgeable family law attorney who works hard to find the best path forward for her clients and their families. From the conference room to the courtroom, we will work with you to develop a tailored strategy that reflects your unique situation and strive to help make your divorce process as smooth as possible.