On more than one occasion, a new client has contacted my office to book a meeting because they are livid, shocked or upset, having learned that their ex has met with a lawyer. Their minds go immediately to worst-case-scenario situations: they’ve hired a pitbull, they’re going to try to take everything.
If you’ve felt the same way at any point in the divorce process so far, listen up: seeking legal help is not a reason to panic.
If your ex has legal questions, they should seek counsel. So should you, even if you just want a 30-minute gut check with a (California) lawyer. Divorce is the separation of the most complicated financial and emotional contract either of you has likely ever entered into. Having (correct) information and feeling informed and empowered is not just smart, but also a helpful way to de-escalate conflict and focus on what actually matters instead of getting caught up in the small stuff. In my 13 years of experience, I’ve found that each party understanding their exposure and their leverage translates into less anger, less bitterness, and more humility.
Do you have an exit strategy for your divorce? Your ex should, too. Have you thought about what you want when it comes to personal property you shared? Your ex should, too. Do you have a plan for what happens next, post-divorce? Your ex should, too. (See where I’m going here?)
What I can’t stand about the divorce system (and a huge reason behind why I started Hello Divorce) is that it is set up to pit spouse against spouse. We’re required to file a lawsuit to separate, and in so many cases it quickly becomes X versus Y. The process is set up to create conflict.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Not if we don’t let it. The system won’t change overnight, but we can change how we approach this broken system: with honesty, respect and transparency.
So, here are three things you can do right now to move forward if you’ve just learned that your ex is talking to a lawyer.
Look – this process is broken. But, you don’t have to let it break you. Or your ex.
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