No-Fault Divorce vs. Fault Divorce – Which is Better?

It is understandable why people say “stay together for the kids.”  Staying together seems like common sense, especially if the reason for divorcing is “I’m just not happy,” also known as no-fault divorce.  All states are now “no-fault” states, meaning you can file for divorce under the reason “irreconcilable differences” or something similar.  There are some states that still allow you to file for a specific reason otherwise known as “fault divorce”; however, a specific reason is not required.  Some more conservative states do give more weight to the spouse that files a fault divorce when dividing assets; however, it really depends on the judge.  Family law is a system that capitalizes on people’s misery and it is very questionable how attorneys and judges can maintain their sense of humanity while practicing family law under 21st Century conditions (one very good reason to avoid divorce if you do not have a good reason for filing a divorce).  If there is truly no-fault on the other party, file no-fault and follow through during divorce proceedings.  File online if you have a short marriage, no assets and no children.

A no-fault divorce was created for several reasons (this is opinion, not fact).

#1 Money making engine – Divorcing without cause increases earning potential for everyone in the divorce industry.  Couples who are parents have more stress on their relationship than other couples, so divorcing without a real reason is more common.  There is no such thing as a fast divorce when children and assets are involved, because emotions run high concerning loved ones and money – attorneys do not put on the brakes especially if they know your income.  Couples that are empty nesters lack the glue of the family unit and are more likely to become discontent without a real reason as well.  Empty nesters are a goldmine because they have accumulated more wealth than the young families.  Attorneys gotta know what they are working with.  You are their livelihood and they want to get paid $$$.

#2 Keep things private – Divorce information is available to the public.  First, anyone can attend a divorce hearing and second, anyone can request anything on a specific divorce.  By filing “irreconcilable differences” the run of the mill person cannot access the details unless you disclose them through the process (remember emotions run hot in divorce especially if the attorneys add fuel to the fire to guarantee a good payout).  You may want to keep things private; however, if you lack self-control through the process or ruffle the feathers of your spouse, privacy and frivolous motions or request for orders or even declarations can and will ruin your life at least temporarily.  Going to court is worse than going to the DMV.

#3 Increase the number of people divorcing – Less people are marrying and less people are divorcing.  In any business if the number of your customers decrease, the business owner must downsize or create demand.  Having a no-fault divorce makes it easy for people to call it quits.  In fact, if you have any enemies and you are married, better guard your marriage and run your business wisely; because you could be a target for the money hungry hippo.  The unknowing spouse may even become a target which is outside your control.

A fault divorce or grounds for a divorce means there is a defined reason for the divorce.

The reasons for divorce vary by state and are not strictly governed by a moral code.  It is uncertain how each item makes the list.  A common reason is adultery (some others include: imprisonment, domestic violence, disability, alcoholism, etc.)

If one of these is occurring it is best to disclose it, especially if there are children in the household.  If one of these is not occurring, any decent human being should file a “no-fault” divorce, because divorce is extremely painful.  You add insult to injury if you falsely claim anything and you are hurting those divorce cases that really have a legitimate reason like domestic violence.  Family law is not criminal law, it should be called creative family law, often cases that have real problems get overlooked, because so many people have taken advantage of the system (a system that is run by people and paperwork).  A system run by people means mistakes happen, bias does occur and poor judgements can be made.

Family law was only conceived in roughly the last 100 years and the moral standard varies by state and county and practicing judicial procedure is only enforced when there is accountability.  There is less accountability when there is less money available for the courts to run which enables corruption.  Some attorneys and/or judges are not corrupted, but choose to deal with the system without changing it because it could negatively impact their practice (family law is a closed network and the people divorcing are only passing through).  Others actively leverage the corruption to further their career or increase their standard of living and others use it as a tool for dominance, control, revenge or payback.  It should be unlawful for any mediation divorce to go to court and there should be a cap on expenditures for those who have a somewhat amicable divorce or make under $100k (value of assets excluded from determination), family law is the Wild West. If there is truly no-fault on the other party, file no-fault and follow through during divorce proceedings.

Should you have a Marital Settlement Conference?  5 Reasons it’s a bomb.

The language in family law is so deceiving.  A marital settlement conference (MSC) is not a conference and it is not even a pleasant meeting.  The MSC is just as deceiving as the phrase family law itself.  It sounds friendly, but it really is one of the worst industries that developed in the 19th century and a MSC is no different.  It is not family oriented and there is no mediation involved in a MSC.  Family law’s mission statement should be something like this, “Judicial process to rip families apart physically, emotionally, mentally and financially.  Diminish all dignity of parties involved, especially if it’s a contested divorce.  If there are children, ignore them as much as possible and focus all attention on what the parents want versus what is best for the children’s upbringing, best interest of the children doctrine is only used to be politically correct.”  Family law courts truly do not care about anyone, everyone is a number.  Knowing what family law truly is, try to avoid a marital settlement conference bomb and agree to settlement outside of court, see an attorney for legal language and get it notarized.

There are valid reasons why the marital settlement conference is a bomb.  It is costly.  It is inconsequential. It is long.  It is unstructured.  It is surprisingly legal.  However, there are many things that occur in family law that are shockingly legal, so the MSC is no different.

Take note of the 5 reasons the MSC is a bomb:

#1 It is costly: If both the petitioner and respondent have legal representation it is going to be a hefty bill.  Attorney fees can cost anywhere between $150 – $450 per hour.  That’s $3,600 in one day (an MSA can take 2-4 hours) and there’s no guarantee an accurate decision will be reached.  Attorneys ARE NOT mediators, I REPEAT, attorneys ARE NOT mediators.  Very few attorneys will be conscientious with how they are spending your dollars – yes, every time you are with them they are spending your money.  Once a tentative decision has been reached during the discussion period or attorney manipulation fest, the judge will go along with whatever the attorneys say whether it is accurate or not.  Emotions are intense during this period so neither the petitioner or respondent are thinking clearly – the attorneys take advantage of the situation.  Remember that’s why attorneys are in family law to begin with, they are good at manipulation, they like competition and they have a real knack for confusion especially if it benefits them (disguised as a benefit for their client of course).

#2 It is inconsequential: No final decision is reached.  The MSC does not mean an automatic marital settlement agreement or final divorce decree.  Even the hearing itself cannot be used to finalize asset division with any organization or bank.  The MSC does put negotiations on the record; however, without a signature NOTHING is final, especially if the information is inaccurate.

#3 It is long:  The discussion period happens right before the hearing.  At the hearing, everyone goes before the judge and the attorney(s) will read what was agreed to during the discussion period.  Remember the discussion period is a session of back and forth of no real resolution so near the end both parties are pressured to decide on some aspects of the case whether the decision is in both parties’ best interest or not.  Attention fatigue occurs quickly after 18 minutes to an hour of intense discussion, so neither party is in a state of verifying all the information that is being tossed back and forth after 2-3 hours of discussion.

#4 It is unstructured: Every attorney goes about this their own way.  Each party is supposed to submit an MSA brief which outlines what is supposed to be reviewed and decided on; however, this brief is purely procedural rather than followed.  Asset division should have a template division for common assets and there should be zero confusion as to where and what should be divided in a community property state, but that is not the case.  There is in fact, no structure which allows the attorneys more leeway to do their own thing inevitably adding to the stress of the situation instead of making it better.

#5 It is surprisingly legal:  This is the biggest bomb indicator of them all.  It is legal; however it shouldn’t be legal to have a MSC without a final divorce decree attached or at least some neutral party mediating the discussion and verifying all information.  If the MSC is filled with inaccurate information, the MSC becomes useless and those inaccuracies must be addressed later which takes more time and more money.

It is uncertain how family law exists as it does.  There are many unhappy divorcées from the process; however, everyone complains, but nothing seems to be done.  Many complain about the outcome of their divorce and very few take the time to dissect why the outcome came about and even less go to their senators to get laws changed or to put laws in place.  Whatever you do, AVOID the marital settlement conference.  If you can convince your broken half to go through mediation to get EVERYTHING decided, do it.   The MSC is a costly inconsequential long unstructured process that’s unfortunately legal; stay clear of the bomb.

Going Pro Se in an Attorney’s World – 5 Things to Remember at Settlement

Going pro se or representing yourself in a divorce is not for everyone.  Family law is a division of the Judicial Branch that is not governed like criminal law.  In fact, there is very little information online that clearly explains how and when family law started in the first place and why it is structured the way it is.  The American Bar Association, only talks about how family law has changed since the 1930’s; however, there is nothing from an average search on a search engine that talks about family law in the 18th or 19th century.  Family law is in fact the Wild West for anyone that has not gone to law school.  This is not a family friendly system as the name implies.  It is ruthless.  It is cunning.  It is one of the greatest money-making schemes of America that somehow slipped through the regulatory cracks.  Certainly there are attorneys that graduated from law school expecting to make a difference in the lives of broken families; however, the reality and ambiguity of the actual job probably hit half of them in the face like a ton of bricks once they started practicing law for a law firm.  Too much ambiguity fosters lying and corruption.  If you are going pro se or decide to represent yourself, you need to know what you are up against when your divorce is happening in an attorney’s world.

#1 The more liberal the state the more grey area and the more liberty the attorney has to stretch the truth. You must over prepare for everything when you divorce in a liberal state (if you divorced in a conservative state, please share your experience); because attorneys are not held accountable to the truth.  Even with preliminary and final declarations of disclosure which list all your assets, the opposing side’s attorney can play dumb when negotiations are on the table.

#2 Know at least some laws that support your proposal in settlement.  Know the laws of your state.  According to, The No-Fault Divorce Toolkit by Daniel Sitarz published in 2009, the following applies to property distribution (please validate all information before making decisions, laws change everyday and below is a summary for each no-fault state).

What really matters is how each state defines the factors for property division.

You will notice identifying distribution as community, equitable or title is not the same across the United States, community distribution in one state is different than community distribution in another state. What really matters is how each state defines the factors for property division.

Alabama  –  “equitable” state – the judge can decide what happens to property and it does not have to be split 50/50.

Alaska  –  “equitable” state – the judge can decide more than just property

Arizona  –  “community” state and separate property is retained by the owner of the property

Arkansas  –  “equitable” state – if the judge sees one spouse has been unfair, the judge can divide things unequally

California  –  “community” state – if one spouse does not declare all property the judge has liberty to divide property unequally; there’s provision for the spouse that sacrificed for the spouse that received education allowing hire earnings; and each spouse is responsible for their own debt. Additionally, separate property must be in writing, if not it is quasi-community property or community property. Code; Sections 2502, 2581, 2601, 2602, 2620, 2621, 2623, 2625 and 2641

Colorado  –  “equitable” state and separate property is retained by the owner of the property

Connecticut  –  “equitable” state and takes everything into account when dividing property

Delaware  –  “equitable” state with separate property defined and there are custodial provisions

District of Columbia (WA DC) – “equitable” state and all separate property retained

Florida – “equitable” state and separate property is called non-marital property, any property acquired before marriage, lots of factors go into equally dividing property and there are guidelines for setoffs and credits

Georgia – “equitable” state and no rules regarding separate property or other considerations

Hawaii – “equitable” state and no rules for separate property and some factors

Idaho – “community” state and defines separate property and marital misconduct is a factor in dividing property

Illinois – “equitable” state and separate property before marriage is retained and other factors are considered

Indiana – “equitable” state and all property is divided justly (no specific rules) and marital misconduct is not considered

Iowa – “equitable” state and all property is divided – even property owned before marriage and lots of factors are considered

Kansas – “equitable” state and all property is divided – even property owned before marriage and other factors considered

Kentucky – “equitable” state and any property acquired before marriage is separate property and some other factors considered

Louisiana – “community” state and separate property before marriage and gifts/inheritance during marriage remain separate and other factors considered.  The spouse filing for divorce gets a material possessions advantage.

Maine – “equitable” state and separate property is defined with some factors also considered

Maryland – “equitable” state and spouse retains separate property before and during marriage and some other factors considered

Massachusetts – “equitable” state and all property is divided and some other factors considered

Michigan – “equitable” state and all property is divided with some factors

Minnesota – “equitable” state and the best provision for separate property includes 4 factors; all other property is divided without fault and some factors are considered

Mississippi – “title” state with no other property division rules; however leans equitable in court

Missouri – “equitable” state and separate property remains separate and there are exceptions to marital property after marriage and other factors

Montana – “equitable” state and all property is divided and other factors considered

Nebraska – “equitable” state and separate property retained and some factors considered

Nevada – “community” state and all separate property retained and no factors listed

New Hampshire – “equitable” state and divides all property with lots of factors

New Jersey – “equitable” state and separate property is retained and there are lots of factors

New Mexico – “community” state and separate property retained if acquired before marriage, all other separate property requires written agreement and no factors

North Carolina – “equitable” state and includes 4 factors for separate property like Minnesota and lots of other factors

North Dakota – “equitable” state all property is divided and no factors

Ohio – “equitable” state and separate property retained, plus any money from lawsuit/personal injury

Oklahoma – “equitable” state and separate property is anything owned before marriage and/or gifts/inheritances and a few other factors considered

Oregon – “equitable” state and all property is divided and some factors considered

Pennsylvania – “equitable” state and separate property retained and lots of factors considered

Rhode Island – “equitable” state and separate property retained except earnings from separate property during marriage and lots of factors considered

South Carolina – “equitable” state and separate property retained and lots of factors considered

South Dakota – “equitable” state and everything is considered equitably (no specific rules for separate property) and some factors considered

Tennessee – “equitable” state and separate property retained (4 factors like MN & NC), marital home is seen as better for parent with physical custody and lots of factors considered

Texas – “community” state and separate property is retained (3 factors) and community property is everything else including property acquired during marriage and few other factors

Utah – “equitable” state and all property is divided equitably and no factors

Vermont – “equitable” state and all property is divided equitably and factors defined

Virgina – “equitable” state and factors listed for separate property and other factors listed

Washington – “community” state and factors listed for separate property

West Virgina (is not listed in Sitarz book; however is now a no-fault state) – “equitable” state divides property equally between parties (HG.org)

Wisconsin – “community” state and gifts/inheritance considered separate property with factors and marital misconduct counts

Wyoming – “equitable” state and all property divided and some factors considered

#3 Sometimes the court will provide a mediator if the opposing side orders a Marital Settlement Conference (MSC).  This mediator can be a practicing attorney or a retired attorney, either way they are there to convince you what the other side is saying should be done.  They are not there to mediate.  You cannot contact them after the mediation.  They do not take notes.  They are strictly there to speed up the decision and they typically side with the opposing attorney’s view point.

#4 After every hearing, be sure to go to the clerk and request the minutes for the hearing.  The opposing side is not obligated to be courteous in any way.

#5 If you see something on the court minutes that does not represent what happened or you understand it differently. File a motion with the court to correct the issue and do not wait.

It is not easy going pro se.  Judges and attorneys alike engage in mudslinging, belittling and intimidation to put the pressure on and indirectly convince you the only way to proceed is with an attorney by your side.  Let the antics roll off your back and keep your eye on the goal.  Defend your rights.  If you have questions ask the court facilitators or setup consults with attorneys.  Whatever you do, do not attempt to represent yourself without putting forth the effort it requires, you will get run over. Remember these 5 things before settlement: over prepare, know the laws that support your position, do not depend on the court mediator, always retain your own court minutes after a hearing and file a motion with the court to correct any issues from the hearing.

Divorce Strategy, Petitioner or Respondent?

There are some advantages for the person who files for divorce, also known as the petitioner, but the advantages do not compare to the internal turmoil that results which is why you should consider being the respondent instead.  The thought of divorce starts brewing when there is conflict percolating that goes unresolved.  One person avoids confronting the other, so the internal grumbling gets pushed off to another day and that seed of discontent resurfaces when something else goes wrong.  If you have young children you are in a pressure cooker, because both of you aren’t getting any sleep, you have less time to talk than you did before little ones, you are now in a position of disciplinarian and/or correcting daily and one person is usually more of the care-taker which means less caring for the other person and less caring for themselves in general (this is a season, don’t lose track of your end game).  If your relationship didn’t break with young kids, after the period  you either do not rebuild your relationship or you continue in the same negative relationship patterns that evolved during that time.  Long-term relationships are demanding work!  Marriages with children require even more work!  If you’re lazy, do not get married.  Like anything in this life, relationships require maintenance and upkeep for them to thrive.

If a thriving marriage seems nowhere in sight and you are considering divorce as a petitioner, it would be folly not to mention the immediate 5 advantages of this position in the divorce.

  1. The petitioner has the most time to find the right attorney. You can interview as many attorneys as you like and there will not be one single attorney that recommends you stay married.  They aren’t marriage counselors.  They are marriage destroyers.  Family law is their life and they will be eager to agree with whatever story you unload at their office as cause for the divorce.
  2. You, as the petitioner, are paying into the Family Law system upfront. The other person has zero skin in the game; however, as the petitioner you are already making the investment in controlling the outcome of your divorce settlement.  This is also somewhat of an illusion, because every state and county has rules and laws at which settlement is derived; however, you are the one steering the boat and it is your timetable and your timetable only.  Your spouse has zero say.  Even if your spouse wanted to file online, your spouse is stuck doing things your way through the court no matter what.
  3. You can take advantage of the loopholes in the system. There are certain deadlines, disclosures, et cetera that are required throughout the process; however, the petitioner will often surprise the respondent in court like delivering declarations at the hearing instead of beforehand like documentation requires (attorneys are not reprimanded for engaging in this type of courtroom scheming).  The purpose is to put added pressure on the respondent whether the respondent has an attorney or not so that the respondent will yield to what opposing council desires.
  4. A conniving petitioner has the advantage of hiding assets and cash. The court does not automatically order financial discovery.   Due to this fact, the petitioner has a monetary advantage unless the respondent chooses to enlist a financial discovery team; however, no team can explore offshore bank accounts.  Domestically they will only find something that the respondent has generally already discovered, but needs more backup.  For example, if the petitioner decided to open a bank account a year before they decided to file for a divorce and kept it a complete secret from the spouse.  Hiding assets is a crime; however, people will do the craziest things in a divorce and shockingly some get away with it.
  5. Finally, the petitioner has the first opportunity to engage in vengeful rhetoric aimed to break the respondent. The person who files is usually the person who is harder to please in the relationship.  They keep track of every single grievance either by literally writing it down or making mental notes throughout the relationship.  The petitioner could also be someone who wants to hide something that could damage the petitioner’s reputation, so the goal is to make the respondent sound like a bad person whether it’s true or not.  The court never verifies the story from either side.

Emotions in a divorce are nothing like you’ve ever experienced.  Divorce creates an emotional jungle which is why being the petitioner is more hurtful to the person petitioning than they realize.  All the reasons why they file for divorce are relived repeatedly during the process from the start.  If there isn’t abuse involved, being the petitioner is essentially giving up.  The person who files is rarely the person that’s happy after it’s over.  Their emotional state is likely to remain unchanged longer than that of the respondent.  As the respondent, the emotional jungle is still something to be dealt with; however, it is not all consuming like it is for the petitioner (this could be false, if there are other factors involved like alcohol dependency, drugs, disorders, etc.).  The respondent is faced with rejection; however, the petitioner undoubtedly left clues of dissatisfaction throughout the relationship so it’s not like the respondent can claim they were blindsided.  As the respondent, there are more mental advantages than monetary advantages and power plays.

  1. The respondent does not harbor bitterness which can slowly deteriorate and infect other relationships. This is huge, because when going through a divorce the lives of both people are turned upside down and maintaining friendships is critical to remain somewhat of a balanced person.  If you have children keeping your mind free of negativity helps you to parent wisely and recover from rejection.
  2. The respondent can make better decisions, because they aren’t steering the boat. As the respondent, you can focus on what really matters instead of past grievances or what the attorney(s) conjure up.
  3. If you’re the respondent, you know that you weren’t the one that gave up on your marriage. By definition, you are the more optimistic partner.  If you were given a choice in the matter, you probably would have gone to great lengths to save the marriage if you could.
  4. Being the respondent means you are more willing to be flexible and you are less selfish than your partner. You are relinquishing control to the other person by default.
  5. Finally, choosing to respond to a divorce filing rather than initiating a divorce filing means you take your wedding vows more seriously and commitment is something you honor. Even with all the conflict that made the other person file, you decided that filing for divorce would cause more harm than good.  As the respondent, you are taking the high road.

A long-term relationship is challenging work!  Marriage is no exception; add in children and the work is that much greater.  However, working through conflict, practicing forgiveness and honoring marriage unlocks the door to relationship contentment.  As the petitioner, you’re giving up and you’re letting your emotions drive your actions; as the respondent, you can find the eye of the storm and find peace through it all.  Yes, as the petitioner there are monetary and power play advantages, but as the respondent, you have a mental advantage.  Money is temporal and power plays damage the soul, neither is much of a win.   Choose respondent, go to great lengths to save your marriage now.  Do not wait for the other person.  If the other person files, at least you know you did your best.

Hard Divorce Fact: It’s not Easy & It’s Brutal for Children

There are countless resources that falsely explain that divorce can be better for the children, because the children won’t be exposed to as much conflict or the children will be shielded from the parental relationship problems or co-parenting strategies minimize the effects of divorce for children. Yada, yada, yada. The ONLY scenario where it’s better for the children is when there is abuse; however if there is no probable cause against the perpetrator, there’s no guarantee of protection.

Relationships are not easy.  A divorce relationship with children is probably one of the most difficult relationships that exist.  Not only did the divorce happen in a public forum, family court, but the children are unknowingly catapulted into a world that’s ready to feast on their every vulnerability from the experience.  The person that files for divorce does not have this insight beforehand, because the person that files is thinking only about their own circumstances and how the divorce will be an instant solution to whatever is going on in their relationship.  There are countless resources that falsely explain that divorce can be better for the children, because the children won’t be exposed to as much conflict or the children will be shielded from the parental relationship problems or co-parenting strategies minimize the effects of divorce for children.  Yada, yada, yada. The ONLY scenario where it’s better for the children is when there is abuse; however if there is no probable cause against the perpetrator, there’s no guarantee of protection.   Any other excuse for the divorce being better for the children comes from rationalization which softens the blow of truth.

It’s a fact, relationships aren’t easy.  The people who’ve mastered relationships are good at recovery.  The people that have broken relationships struggle to master recovery. Any relationship without some level of conflict isn’t an example of a real relationship with real people.  Every person that starts a relationship has a point of reference.  Often the point of reference can get lost if you track the point of reference back to childhood.  When people experience extreme circumstances they often block it out; who wants to be reminded of bad memories?  Human brains don’t, at least not intentionally.  In some cases this blocking of memories is defined by psychologists as Dis-associative Amnesia.  These bad memories shape how you operate under stress and how you relate to others.  When you divorce with children, you are placing them into this dangerous arena.  Their brains are chemically changed during a divorce, because they are forced to experience ADULT emotions and deal with ADULT problems.  Divorce emotions are a thing to be reckoned with as ADULTS; most ADULTS can’t handle the emotions much less children.

It’s a fact, by divorcing you’re making it that much harder for your children to navigate relationships, plus facilitating a number of side effects.  Children that grew up with parents that kept things behind closed doors struggle immensely with conflict resolution as adults.  Children in a divorce struggle with the same thing!  Children learn by watching, hearing and experiencing.  Stripping your children of your relationship takes this opportunity away from them and maybe they will eventually see healthy conflict resolution if someone remarries and STAYS MARRIED; however, the statistics don’t look good for second marriages.

It’s a fact, there is NO WAY to shelter your kids from the divorce storm.  There are helpful resources like counseling, communication strategies and so on; however these are no substitute for a loving relationship between the people that your children love the most – you and your spouse.  Finding a good qualified counselor is critical.  If you don’t see results from going to counseling within the first month, find someone else.  Find a counselor that is educated in the Gottman principles of relationships. If you’re considering divorce, but haven’t taken the plunge; please consider counseling.  Take it seriously.  Act as though the counseling is the next step in a business deal, career advancement, self-actualization discovery, living life to the fullest, whatever it may be.  Be an active participant, instead of a spectator – you won’t regret it.

Divorce? BEWARE, it’s an emotional jungle.

Emotions in a divorce are far more intense than emotions during an unhappy marriage. If a person has a challenging time with their emotions (this can be described as: difficulty expressing emotions verbally or physically, avoids emotional encounters, has sudden outbursts, acts passive aggressively, etc.) they are going to have a rude awakening and a hefty attorney bill if they find themselves in the middle of a divorce. Here are some suggestions on how to navigate the emotional divorce jungle.

The emotions in divorce are intense; so much so, the people in the middle of divorce are not themselves.  The friends and family of people that are divorcing get pulled into the dissolution and even their emotions are affected.  Some friends divorce their friends for going through a divorce, others stop communication altogether and if the divorcing parties are lucky, there will be a handful of people in their lives that stick by them to listen; because they are loyal friends with emotional intelligence.  Emotions in a divorce are far more intense than emotions during an unhappy marriage.  If a person has a challenging time with their emotions (this can be described as: difficulty expressing emotions verbally or physically, avoids emotional encounters, has sudden outbursts, acts passive aggressively, etc.) they are going to have a rude awakening and a hefty attorney bill if they find themselves in the middle of a divorce.  Here are some suggestions on how to navigate the emotional divorce jungle.

Whatever you do, only communicate necessary information. Often, spouses and sneaky attorneys will use communication with the opposing party to manipulate them before a hearing date.  Manipulation before a hearing is multipurpose.  The attorney wants fodder, because this gives the attorney more hours to accumulate and the spouse willing to manipulate wants a leg up for control.  FYI, if one spouse antagonizes another, the court does not step in.  If one spouse manipulates the other spouse, the court does not step in.  If one spouse threatens the other spouse with conditions, if you don’t do this I won’t do that, the court does not step in.  If one spouse, harms the children according to the children, the court does not step in.  If one spouse displays, irregular forms of communication, constantly contradicts themselves and admits general guilt to something heinous, the court does not step in.  If one spouse violates a court order, amazingly the court only steps in on rare occasions even if you file a motion or ex parte.  These scenarios are all possible.  Are you scared yet?  How does this happen you ask?  It happens because no one is holding the system accountable. Only communicate necessary information, because anything more puts fuel on the fire and no one in the judicial system cares if you or your children have been injured unless a crime has been committed.

Whatever you do, turn your hot buttons off. Your spouse knows which buttons to push, when to push them, the frequency they need to be pushed and how hard they should be pushed.  Rewire your brain so those stimuli have zero impact on your response.  This is extremely difficult when divorce is new; because you are adjusting to new circumstances, but the sooner you shut the hot button circuit off the better off you’ll be.  This is especially important if you have children and you’re the custodial parent.  Divorce is the worst on children. Be sure you’re dialed in to your children’s emotions.  If you don’t turn your hot buttons off, your children will get the brunt of your emotional response that’s meant for your estranged spouse.  DO NOT let your estranged spouse have that much control!  Be in charge, 100% of the time for you and your children.  Setup boundaries in your new divorce relationship to protect your sanity, keep your emotional well-being in tact and to stay in the present.  Turning off your hot buttons is critical to minimizing collateral damage.

Whatever you do, complete as much paperwork as you can outside of court. Every hearing you have creates stress.  Every hearing costs money whether you have an attorney or not.  Every dollar that you or your spouse pays is a dollar less for the children if you have children and there is always a chance either spouse can request the court to order the other spouse pay while your case is open.  All promises that are not submitted to court and filed with the court are fly-by-night promises; so no matter what, make sure all signatures on a decision are filed with the court.  Time is valuable, court is as fun as the DMV, don’t waste those precious hours.  If you have an attorney, have them negotiate for you outside of court or try mediation for better cooperation and communication.  If your spouse is compliant and respectful, try negotiating with your spouse directly (with any outside party, there is a price-tag attached).  Most of all make it a priority to come to a decision, make concessions, make reasonable suggestions and get your division of assets wrapped up as soon as possible especially if you have children.  Don’t let the legal paperwork or family law forms be a burden, get it done outside of court.

Everyone needs to care about their neighbor’s, their friend’s, their family’s quality of life, any person can be touched by divorce directly or indirectly.  If you are considering divorce, going through a divorce or know someone who’s going through a divorce help them understand how to navigate the emotional jungle.  Divorce is one of the most difficult circumstances people deal with in life and people should not have to do it alone.  If you’re going through a divorce or know someone who is; keep these emotional strategies top of mind: communicate only necessary information, turn your hot buttons off and complete paperwork outside of court.  The emotional divorce jungle is filled with booby traps, predators and acts of God; be prepared and stay alert.