There are many, many ways to get divorced. You and your soon to be ex can go to an attorney and figure it out yourselves, or you can get a collaborative divorce, which is sort of like mediation with all these other professionals helping, or you can do straight mediation, or you can go the traditional route to get divorced: litigation.
Divorce litigation is something that I am very familiar with. I’ve done mediation, which works really well, and I’ve experienced litigation–a lot more than I ever wanted to.
I’d like to share some things I think will help you when it comes to litigation. If you go into litigation knowing these things, you might be more prepared, and able to handle this VERY VERY difficult process.
- Litigation takes time: If you want a quick solution and you want to “be done” with your divorce, this is not the way to go. Litigation takes years, often times with frustrating results and high lawyer bills. Lawyer bills come in the mail and it’s upsetting because you think, ‘I’m no further along than I was a year ago.’” The worst part is, there is so much anger between you and your ex, that the kids ultimately feel it, and that’s so much worse than the lawyer fees and non-results.
- Litigation can make you want to crawl into bed for a year: There have been times when I have seriously have been so depressed, because I just want it to be over. Divorce litigation is exhausting, and it takes so much out of a person. Here’s my stance on being depressed and feeling sorry for yourself. If you feel that way, you are allowed to engage in a self-pity party for 12 hours. After that, it’s time to regroup and focus on the end result: either settling or having the judge decide your issues and moving on.
- Litigation creates bullies: “You’re going to lose,” “The judge is for sure going to side with me,” “You better settle because you’re going to be really sorry when we go to court.” “You don’t have a case.” “This is a no-brainer. I’m winning.” These are statements that people have told me their ex’s have said to them during the divorce process. Clearly, these are things a bully would say. DO NOT listen to them. Let them roll off of you. Pretend you didn’t hear them. They will only cause you to be upset. Instead, listen to your attorney, and to your gut.
- Litigation will make you realize “Life aint’ fair.” I have a huge problem with how the legal system works when it comes to divorce. I think there are so many cases out there, that judges are too busy and overwhelmed to really hear the specifics of the cases, and they have a hard time managing all the cases. So, things get pushed back and pushed back and pushed back, costing more and more and more money. So, say to yourself, “life aint fair,” and either take steps to end the litigation, i.e. work it out with your ex or try to settle through mediation, or accept and control the things in your life that you can control.
- Suck up your pride: If you think you can call your ex and settle things yourself, DO IT!! Who cares about your pride and anger and the past? Be smart. I have a friend who spent $150,000 on attorneys. One night, she called her ex and said, ‘Let’s just settle this ourselves.” They came to an agreement via phone. They had their lawyers draw up the order, they went into court and it was done. She said it was so difficult and she was gritting her teeth the whole time. But, it worked.
- Trust your gut: This statement is regarding both litigation and your attorneys. If you don’t feel that litigation is working, take steps to change the process. It’s never too late to try to settle. People think it is, because they feel like they are in so deep. But as deep as you are, settling is always an option. You can always get out of it. It’s somewhat in your control (Although, I think there are certain people who there’s just no reasoning with and it’s a lost cause.) But, settling is always an option and if your gut says you can do it, than do it!! Regarding attorneys, I have been so angry with mine at times, I feel like banging my head against the wall. But I always come to realize that it’s not their fault. They are doing their jobs. They are on your side. Period. Then again, they are being paid by the hour, so they really have no real incentive to settle your case-and I’m not trying to slam any attorneys by saying that. It’s just a fact and another reason I think the system is terrible. Lastly, if you don’t think you have the right person representing you, make a change. You’ll know.