Yaffa Family Law Group
By: Doreen Yaffa

A Divorce Lawyer’s – 10 Top Things to Help You and Your Lawyer Get You Through the Divorce and On With Your Life


Here are my top 10 best tips to help get you through your divorce faster and with less aggravation and working “with” your lawyer.

There is no doubt that when a marriage ends everyone involved, the parties, the children and even extended family and friends will suffer on some level. Divorce is without question one of the most challenging times in someone’s life. From whom gets the house, or should we sell, to when each parent will have time with their child(ren), to making ends meet or even determining the values of assets; things will and do change.

When you are faced with any life alternating event, such as divorce, it is harder to stay focused on what matters and to make good solid decisions, let alone understand the legal process. At my firm, we understand that you have a lot going on and that you are counting on our advice and direction to get you through to the other side. Based on my over 25 years of experience as a Board Certified Family Lawyer and as a Life Coach now for over 5 years, I want to share the top ten things to consider to make the divorce easier on you, your children and your future.

1.Put Down The Gloves

In a divorce there are no real winners and losers. If you have the thought that the legal arena is the place for a knock down fight, think again. While there are certain issues that may require a judge to make the decision, the fact is that most cases settle.

Most of the issues in a typical divorce are relatively easy to work through, as the legal authority provides the guideline as to what will likely be ordered in a court room. The typical divorce involves various issues, such as child custody, support, and the division of property. Divorcing spouses in South Florida rarely end up with everything they want because that is not what the law provides. For example, one spouse might be awarded more time with the children, but also receive a lower amount of alimony than requested. Or maybe both parties want to retain the marital home and instead the judge orders that the home be sold. Thus, trying to “win” is pointless.
Instead, assure that you understand what your chances are on the issues important to you. Also, if you have an attorney that is telling you all the things you want to hear, then consider a different attorney. Attorneys are required to inform you of the “upside” and the “downside” and the consequences of a full-blown court battle before you go down that path.

2. Think About What You Want and Know the “Why” of It

Divorce in South Florida brings forth many life changing decisions that you will need to make. Take your time on these important decisions and know why you want what you want. Too many times people take on a position without even thinking it through. For example, sometimes one spouse will be adamant about wanting the home. The reality is they really are just afraid of having to move to a new neighborhood. Dig deeper as maybe a new home and a fresh start are just what you need.

Divorce is not a time for quick decisions that could stay with you for a lifetime. Breath, slow down and consider the pros and cons and give equal airtime to both.

3. Keeps The Kids Out Of It

Remember that you and your soon-to-be ex are the ones getting divorced, not your children. Fighting over custody related issues takes a toll on you and your children. Be aware of what you say and how you act towards your spouse around the children. Kids pick up on verbal and nonverbal messages. The more you and your ex fight, the more it is hurting the children (and yourself).

Take a time out and breathe before reacting to your ex. What are you trying to convey is a good place to start. Give yourself some time to think before you speak. It’s amazing how approaching an issue calmly can turn what appears to be an issue, into a non-issue.

Most parents end up with something close to equal time sharing unless there’s a history of abuse or neglect or some other major concern that will impact the child’s best interest. Trying to keep your child away from your spouse is only hurtful to your child. Children need both parents. Trying your best to maintain a cordial relationship with your spouse is always best for all involved.

4. In One Ear And Out the Other

Sometimes, while family and friends mean well, they can give you bad advice. Let most advice go in one ear and out the other. Trust your lawyer and other professionals, such as a therapist or accountants, to give you upfront and honest advice and follow that advice over others who are not experts and or schooled in these areas.

Every divorce has a different set of issues and a different set of circumstances and facts that are unique to that case. Take what anyone outside of your legal team says with a grain of salt, thank them and move on. If you have a question or concern, ask your lawyer instead.

5. Learn From Your Past And Move Forward To A Better Future

Obsessing over all the things he or she did to cause the divorce really serves no purpose. Instead, learn from the past and look forward to a better and happier future. There are reasons that you are likely getting divorce that you can identify to help you make better choices next time. Think about what you want for your future and set those intentions placing your energy into your future self.

6. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Stay focused on the bigger picture and don’t sweat the small stuff. Too many people in a divorce get stuck dwelling and arguing over the little things. Arguing over who gets what piece of furniture is not only foolish, but it takes away from the more important issues like the parenting plan.
Are you fighting over something for the right reason? Spend legal fees on the things that make the most sense. Also, making some concessions on minor issues can help to bring you and your spouse closer on the more important matters to decide and resolve.

7. Don’t Use Your Time With Your Lawyer As If He/She is a Therapist

Divorce is emotional. Keep in mind that your lawyer is a counselor in law and not your therapist. Obtain the emotional support you need from a therapist, life coach and support groups. In other words, focus your time with your lawyer on the legal issues. It not only makes sense to deal with emotional issues stemming from your divorce with a therapist, but it can save on the overall legal fees.

8. Communicate With Your Legal Team Efficiently And Be Organized

Some clients find a need, especially at the beginning of a divorce, to be in constant contact with their lawyer. Remember, that unless you have a flat rate retainer arrangement with your attorney, that each call, email and text message is billed for. These communications add up so be very aware of this from the start.

In a divorce there is usually a good amount of paperwork (discovery) that is exchanged to assure that both parties have a full understanding on the marital assets and liabilities as well as the parties’ respective incomes. Be organized and complete in providing this information to your attorney and do so in a manner (i.e., Dropbox) that is efficient.

Most lawyers have a checklist of documents that they will need. Do your very best to obtain everything they have requested, even if it requires you to download statements, go to the institutions directly or otherwise, to obtain what is requested. Your diligence to the same will provide your attorney with a full picture of the marital estate, sooner rather than later, and hopefully lead to settlement discussions before things get too out of hand.

9. Be Upfront And Honest With Your Attorney

You have an attorney client privilege with your attorney. What this means is that you can and should speak open and honestly with your attorney and that the information cannot be divulged. Being honest and upfront can help your attorney avoid pitfalls or other issues before they blow out of proportion.

The worst thing is for a lawyer to find out about something for the first time from the other side or in court. Your attorney is providing you with advice based mostly on what you tell them. Also keep in mind that most of the time when you attempt to hide something from your attorney, the facts become known eventually.

Also, when it comes to disclosing assets and accounts, be aware that if you fail to do so the court can likely reopen your case and set aside any agreement or judgement that was done based on any fraud and/or misrepresentation.

10. Have Reasonable Expectations

Sometimes, divorcing spouses have goals that are completely unreasonable or inconsistent with the law. Listen to your lawyer. Understand your chances of prevailing on each issue and what it will cost you in fees and cost to fight the fight. Is it worth it? Think of the financial issues as a business deal. What is the cost and benefit (upside) and what will you gain versus how much it will cost you is a mathematical computation. Do the math. Then add your time and emotional involvement in taking the issue to it to trial.

The more realistic you are, the sooner your matter can be resolved, the bleeding from the fees will stop, and you can move on with the next chapter of your amazing life. To learn more, contact the Yaffa Family Law Team today online or call us at (561) 276-3880.