Have you ever driven somewhere and then wondered how you got there? Did you yield to oncoming traffic? Did you use your turn signal? WERE THOSE LIGHTS EVEN GREEN?! Sometimes when we have a destination in mind we switch to autopilot and just go through the motions, but being alert to potential dangers on the road is one of the first things we learn in driver’s ed. People who are on the “road” to divorce will often encounter legal speed bumps, unexpected twists and turns, emotional potholes, and more, but don’t call the tow truck just yet! For those with a vigilant eye, crash-and-burn scenarios can usually be avoided. Need some tips? Buckle-up and bust out of the traffic cones, because we’re heading back to driving school.
- Don’t Get Distracted. Just like on the road, social media and text messages can often end in disaster, so avoid them like the plague when you’re in the middle of any type of litigation. Not everyone needs to see the delicious lobster dish you ate in Cancun, Janet, no matter how harmless you think it is.
- Check Your Mirrors. We’ve all acted a fool in the past, but objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. The mistakes in your past that you’d rather forget will often come back and hit you from behind, so if you’re thinking about keeping things from your family law attorney, DON’T.
- Drive Defensively. Always be aware of what the other party is doing and learn to expect the unexpected. Will your ex ask you to pay debts you never knew existed? Did you send a regrettable e-mail a few months back that might be used against you? Your attorney isn’t Miss Cleo, so if you don’t see it coming, neither do they.
- Don’t Speed. Even the most amicable divorces take time, so if you’re expecting to be spouse-free and living your best life in Miami next month, think again.
- Have A Safe Driving Plan. You wouldn’t start a lengthy road trip without filling up your tank with gas or checking the air in your tires, would you? Similarly, divorces require adequate preparation to ensure your own safety and the safety of others. Can you afford a divorce? Speak to a financial advisor in advance. Are you and your kids emotionally prepared for what might be a long and arduous process? Therapists are there for a reason.
- Buckle-Up. Divorce can be a pretty wild ride, so if you don’t want to do a Superman through the windshield, surround yourself with competent people. When it comes to legal advice, prepare a list of questions and schedule an in-person consultation with a family law attorney instead of hitting up Google and getting a false cancer diagnosis while you’re at it. Do you have kids along for the ride? Protect them by shielding them from hateful words, modeling maturity, and maintaining appropriate boundaries throughout the entire process.
- Don’t Forget Your Paperwork. As a driver, there are three important documents you should always have in your car: vehicle registration, proof of insurance, and your driver’s license. Similarly, filing for divorce involves a lot of paperwork, so hit up the printer at work for a quicker (and smoother) process. Necessary documentation includes (but is not limited to) finances, parenting plans, legal documents, settlement agreements, dissolutions of marriage, etc.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions. Anyone who is learning to drive is going to have a lot of questions, particularly about road laws, and the road to divorce is no different. If you aren’t sure how something works, ask your family law attorney. They might not have an immediate answer for you, but a good one will do some research and get back with you. Unless you’re Larry King and you’re working on your ninth divorce, chances are you’ll need a helping hand along the way.
- Know Your Car. No one would attempt to take their driver’s test in an unfamiliar vehicle, right? Just like with a car, be sure you know how to handle yourself when you begin your journey. Do you suffer from depression? Seek help. Do you have a co-parenting plan with your ex? Talk to a family therapist. A good lawyer isn’t the only thing you need in a divorce! Be self-aware and proactive when it comes to your mental, emotional and spiritual health.
- Remember, You’re Not The Only One On The Road. It’s easy to feel intimidated or embarrassed when seeking out legal advice, but family law attorneys are there to help you, not judge you. Remember, legal consultations are fully confidential, even if you choose not to use that particular attorney. The road to divorce might feel lonely, but countless people have arrived at their destination with the help of attorneys, therapists, financial advisers, spiritual advisers, etc. God
speedbe with you!