Half of all married women in America will inevitably ask:
"What do I do now that my marriage is over?"
Because I was a divorce attorney at the time my own marriage was ending, I knew exactly what to do. I had an arsenal of insider's information to set myself up before the divorce papers were even filed and to ensure my future success on the divorce battlefield. I knew the importance of establishing my own bank account, secretly photocopying our financial records, and staying in the family home while the divorce was under way, no matter how uncomfortable I felt there.
I knew that divorce brings out the worst in people, and that I should keep my "relationship" as amicable as possible, so I could convince my husband to give me what I wanted. I knew to begin working on resolving our issues and dividing our property early in the process, before the divorce became adversarial. I knew it was crucial for me to treat my husband respectfully -- or at least appear to -- to gain his cooperation and allow for the divorce to move quickly.
Finally, I knew that I could get through my divorce with less agony and frustration if my husband and I communicated without the assistance of lawyers. There have been some divorce situations where I have seen attorney interference do more harm than good, actually causing communicating couples to permanently shut down contact. That is because once lawyers enter the picture, the entire tone of a divorce changes. I have consoled many clients and friends after their so-called "dependable" husbands hired an attorney and reneged on their initial promises to provide for their spouses after the divorce "at the advice of counsel." As an ex-wife and a former divorce lawyer, I want women to know that they can take control of their divorces -- sometimes eliminating the lawyers from all or part of the process -- and plan stable financial futures for themselves and their children.
What I Learned from My Own Divorce
Almost a decade ago, I walked out of my uncomfortable five-year marriage and straight into divorce court. As an attorney, I already knew the rules of the game and the tricks of the trade. I applied those rules in my own divorce but treated my husband with dignity and respect, without antagonizing him the way a lawyer typically would. After convincing him that we could handle our divorce on our own, without lawyers, I got the exact settlement I wanted with little bickering.
Everyone we knew was shocked at how well my spouse and I got along during the divorce, considering we barely got along during the marriage. When our no-fault divorce was granted by the judge without delay, arguments, or roadblocks, I walked out of divorce court arm in arm with my ex-husband, and we hugged each other good-bye. I have never witnessed a similar sight in all my years of practice. It was at that point that I realized I had a winning formula for a successful divorce outcome that could revolutionize the way women approach the process.
While my experience as an attorney assisted with the paperwork and procedure, the main reason for my divorce success was our ability to eliminate half the battle, most of the nastiness, and all of the expense by handling the process ourselves. By negotiating face-to-face without involving lawyers, my husband saved money that went straight to me as part of my divorce settlement. We were able to work together peacefully to resolve all our issues. And although a do-it-yourself divorce is not for everyone, it will always serve you well to understand the process and take control of as many aspects of your divorce as possible.
Copyright © 2008 by Stacy Schneider, Esq.