Number 1 Is A Must Do
Making the decision to file for divorce is no easy task. Surviving the divorce is an entirely different challenge. You face both legal and emotional struggles, so it’s best to be prepared. From being honest with your attorney to preparing for the stress associated with divorce, here are five things you should know during this difficult journey.
1. Be Honest with your Attorney.
According to attorney Fred Zundel of Idaho Legal Aid Services, honesty is a key factor in the attorney/client relationship. “The worst thing an attorney can experience is to go to a hearing or trial and for the first time learn negative information about a client,” Zundel says.
As a general rule of thumb, most attorneys require a certain amount of information when a new client comes through their door. Zundel’s clients fill out a lengthy questionnaire that covers everything from the relationship prior to marriage to every aspect of the marriage from parenting to property. Overall, Zundel said it is imperative to know everything there is to know about the marriage.
“I think it’s very important to let your attorney know everything about that marriage. The client needs to feel comfortable raising any questions and sharing any information they have. The client needs to be willing to share any bad news about him or herself, with their attorney,” Zundel says.
2. Divorce is Stressful.
When Jamie Herree finally determined she wanted a divorce, she thought the hard part was over. “For me, the decision to get a divorce was tough, but I had know idea just how tough it was going to be,” Herree says.
According to Herree, the stress she endured during the custody battle for her children was unlike anything she had ever experienced. Zundel too is quick to point out the stress level divorce can induce. “A divorce process can be highly stressful. It can be very hard on one’s life. A client may need to consider some counseling to help them deal with the stress, which will depend in part on how contested the divorce is and how hostile the other party is,” he says.
Katherine Buckley, Idaho, also found divorce a hard pill to swallow. Buckley opted to seek the guidance of a counselor — a decision she said she does not regret. “My psychiatrist helped out a lot. She was there to listen and that was nice. I remember she kept telling me over and over again that what I was going through was difficult and that I needed to realize just how difficult it was,” Buckley says.
3. Be Prepared to Wait.
A common misperception about divorce is that it can be resolved quickly. This is true in some cases, but Zundel said divorce is usually a lengthy procedure. The legal process can be very slow, depending on the number and complexity of the issues that are in the case. And it’s not at all atypical to have a divorce last six to 12 months and sometimes longer,” Zundel says.
When Herree filed for divorce, she was told it might take a year to finalize. At first, she didn’t believe it, but in the end her divorce ended almost 13 months after she hired her attorney, she says.
4. Know Your Attorney.
As previously mentioned, being honest with your attorney is essential to the divorce process. Zundel also points out the importance of your attorney being honest with you. “Always understand what your attorney is doing, and make sure the attorney is explaining everything to your satisfaction,” Zundel said. The attorney’s attitude should be, if there is anything you don’t understand or agree with, let’s talk about it.” Herree agrees. “Once I felt comfortable asking my lawyer questions about the divorce process, my mind was put at ease. Knowing why we were doing what we did helped a lot,” she says.
5. Divorce Isn’t Friendly.
The one thing Herree said she wished she had been prepared for was the invasive questions presented to her during the discovery process. “They asked questions like ‘what is the square footage of your apartment?'” Herree says.
According to Herree, at first the questions dragged her down and frightened her. After talking to her attorney, she learned the questions were most likely basic questions her ex-husband’s attorney used in all divorce cases. “That made me feel a lot better about the whole deal. It didn’t feel like an outright attack on my personal life,” she says.
Divorce is a complex and difficult process for anyone, no matter how amicable the situation. Zundel recommends anyone entering into a divorce should do some background research to learn more about the process and what to expect down the road.
Casey Clark Ney is a freelance journalist based in Boise, ID. She holds a B.A. in Communication and has more than six years experience in newspaper writing. E-mail correspondences can be sent to email@example.com.