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Tips for men thinking about divorce

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Today we’re going to talk a little bit about thinking about divorce for men that are contemplating it and so many questions come up in their minds. They don’t know where to turn to, what to do and they always have friends. I go through it and they hear the stories the bad ones and the good ones so we thought we’d spend some time today talking a little bit about thinking about divorce and we’ll get right at it, been doing exclusively family law for about 8 and a half years now and look forward to talking on this topic great.

So you know we go around the country we do these seminars and oftentimes we talk about the mistakes guys make and we do one that’s called divorce school and I think the war school probably is the most appropriate place to start because I always related to going to a doctor being diagnosed with some you know terrible medical condition the first thing you want to do or what I would do and I need a lot of men do is, they go Google and they find out what’s going on with that condition, what can I learn from it, how do I treat it, how do I get better and so I always tell men in these seminars, that’s what we need to do but let’s start the beginning. So well you know in your experience you know you’ve got men who are contemplating divorce and there’s so many questions I guess the question is what would you tell someone who hasn’t seen a lawyer yet preparing and they’re thinking about maybe divorces in my future or they’re ready to file what do you think men are one asking themselves what are you here you know they come in and they tell you hey I’ve been thinking about this and then what would you tell them in terms of preparation before they come to see you what would they do what should they bring things that you would want to see guys to make that first consultation the most productive so as far as things that are usually brought up questions that are usually asked early on in the initial consultation process when they’re just thinking about divorce most of the time it’s you know I’m not really sure if I want to do this but I want to sort of know what I’m in for, you know the three big questions are always property support and of course the biggest children. You know how is this going to affect my children so having those questions prepared you know knowing what you want to know is the biggest thing because I can drive the initial consultation I can tell them you know here’s some information here’s what’s going to happen here’s things that were you know we can expect to see but that doesn’t necessarily address the questions that they have unless they’re ready with those questions I mean mostly guys are saying hey and the first question is how much am I going to have to give not just in spousal support child support like I had a client yesterday you’re telling me that I’m going to have to give up at least 50% of my property and those are the questions guys ask, they hear they have a friend who you know 51% of the country gone through it so it’s likely you’re going to have someone you know or someone you know has a friend who’s gone through it so you’ve heard the stories but they have questions about property they have questions about their retirement and so what should they do what do you want them to bring to this consult other than the list of questions any documents things that you think would make it again more productive sure bringing the paperwork to provide me with the background information and a lot of guys will come in and they’ll say oh I make roughly this or I have roughly this amount in my I’m an account, those rough numbers are okay but a lot of times you forget those numbers because it’s a stressful situation I mean you’re trying to remember everything all at once. So to bring in you know a tax return a lot of men don’t know their spouses social security number it’s on the tax return that’s an easy thing for me to find so things that I can find, that they might not even know they have questions about in those sort of documents bank statements, retirement account statements, tax returns.

like I said those are some of the big ones. I know men, when they come in, they’re really reluctant to share information some don’t want to talk about their income it’s private and they don’t know you and they’re not quite certain they want to move forward with you but I think what I tell men is if you’re going to go the doctor and you had your you know your chest was hurting I am probably 99% certain you’re going to give every single fact that you can think about because you want to be healed you’re not going to withhold something in my seminars that I give we always talk about doctor-patient lawyer client relationships they’re distinctly different only because the clients in the legal sense treat it differently but they shouldn’t be they should be the same shouldn’t they right I mean it’s very important to be open and honest with your prospective attorney in that initial consultation because there is that different type of relationship like you said the conversation is privileged it’s cut even if you haven’t retained the attorney yet and you’re just coming in to talk to them about it all of that information is still privileged it’s still covered under that attorney-client privilege so your attorney or your prospective attorney is not going to just go out and blab to the world about what you just told them. It still maintains that same level of confidentiality so when men come in, they don’t have to be certain that they’re ready to move forward for divorce do they no absolutely not a good percentage of the people that I see are coming in just to get that initial information they’re not sure really what they want to do. They’re scared maybe there’s been a big event that has precipitated them coming into the office a big fight maybe you know some sort of drug or alcohol-related incident with them or with the other party and so they’re scared but they just need that information so biggest piece of advice Nan Lord lawyerly advice you know that’s easy for us to give out legal advice and position guys and we’re just talking about non lawyerly advice in the beginning.

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There’s all kinds of advice we can talk about later but is there anything single piece of advice you wouldn’t want to give clients that just has a man or as a friend if you were friends with him, what would you tell them so I’ve had this sort of come up with other friends who know what I do and you know they say, I wanted to let you know I’m thinking about this and my first reaction is not to give them lawyerly advice. That’s not why they’re coming to me. What I tell them is take your time, start doing your research, look into who you want to talk to because you don’t want to talk to me because I’m your friend, I will give you friend advice but when it comes to a divorce I’m not going to give you divorce advice but look into who you want to go to for that advice.

So do your research on the attorney that you may want to hire in the future I think that’s the biggest thing because ultimately they’re the person who you’re going to be trusting with making those sort of calls later on as far as you know strategy and you know potential settlement and negotiations and litigation strategy all those sort of things so Star talk you know start thinking about that it’s sort of lawyerly advice but it’s also I think just good general advice and you bring up a good point when you talk about who you’re going to retain, what type of a lawyer should they look for. I think you really want to go with a lawyer who only practices domestic law, who has that focus because it’s like anything else. I mean if you are focused on one area the law is just such a broad concept you know criminal law property law real estate you know white-collar uh any you know there’s so many different areas that you could go into as a lawyer and if you don’t have that sort of specialized knowledge of the area that you’re focused on, I think it has the potential to reduce the type of success that you can have in your case however you determine success.

I agree, I think it’d be like I have a tumor and I also have a foot problem so I go to the podiatrist and I said hey while you’re at it can you do surgery and remove this tumor and the doctor said well, you know I did once do surgery in anatomy physiology when I was in medical schools, I probably can do it right.

The question is, would you do it, I mean should you do it no of course not you need to go if you have cancer you want to go to oncologist you know and if you know we’ve got a heart issue and you go to a cardiologist you know not to say that lawyers out there aren’t capable of Hanley because there are a lot of great general practice lawyers absolutely but the point being is when everything’s on the line I certainly would not handle a business merger of a large corporation could I do it probably and then I would have to you know really struggle my way through it would I do it to the best of my ability absolutely not and so I would never take that and that’s why I would never expect giant corporation to come to me and say will you assist us with this merger and acquisition right I mean I’ve had people ask me about criminal law questions and I say I can give you somebody that I’ll refer you to right because I just don’t know that area of law yeah and so I think that is for me when I tell clients wherever may be the biggest best advice is interview.

Find lawyers that only do domestic and find one that you’re most comfortable with like you would be with your and then the second thing that I think that I would tell clients the best piece of non lawyerly advice is it can become overwhelming when you think of this process in its panoramic scope being I’m looking at the you know from left to right I’m looking at everything and all that I have to go through over the next 6 to 12 months some cities in some states it’s 18 some it’s two years and look at it in small window frames alright let’s take the first filing and that’s only focus on what do we do between now and when we file all right now we filed now let’s focus on what do we do between filing and the first court date coming up in say 60 days because it can be emotionally and physically draining if you look at it and worry about what’s going to happen in 12 months and so I think that that does tend to work if clients just focus on small picture small goals setting goals and multiple goals not just getting divorced my goal is to get divorced well of course it is my goal though is alright let’s make it to the temporary hearing and I want to walk away keeping the house it’s a good goal it’s a short-term goal so that’s what I usually tell my clients so when you have clients who have kids what would you suggest how do they make the best decision because the biggest struggle they tell their kids you know what I do, clients constantly saying what do I do, I tell them or how do I tell them and for me I always tell them it’s very individual but I would say and I don’t know what your thought is.

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Well, I suggest quite often get help counseling there’s always every city, every state’s going to have some sort of class and some called it children’s first kids in the middle program where you have social workers trained counselors to assist you on how to tell your kids and how to kind of move forward what do you think absolutely I mean using the resources that are available to you can be invaluable you always hear of the stories of people who get divorced later in life and they say well we we stayed together for the kids and once they were grown up we decided it’s time for us to part ways a lot of times that’s it’s difficult or I I see guys who are coming in who are having difficulty with that decision do I stay together for the kids or is it time for us to separate and so that’s sort of the first thing that I think they need to think about is staying in this relationship going to be better or worse for my children if you have that sort of toxic relationship where you’re constantly fighting with your spouse in front of the children that’s not a good relationship that’s not something they need to stay in as far as your question you know how do you tell the children absolutely I think using those resources counseling you know you can start as little as the school counselor letting the school counselor know what’s going on because issues may arise in school and it’s better for them to be prepared and know what’s going on so that they can help the child as well right and I think that brings up the question many guys also have is how do I avoid disrupting their lives meaning that you know we’re in the same household we have a mom we have a dad we have a routine a schedule the kids were used to it how do I avoid it and I think for me and I’ll let you answer will it’s one of the ten stupidest mistakes guys make that we talk about is moving out of the house guys think automatically if I’m going to file for divorce and I need to move out and well of course I we’re going to be separated guys mistake what that really means legally separated and so oftentimes and obviously there are so many circumstances and facts that would affect this decision in my recommendation and you certainly don’t want to take what I’m going to tell you now as legal advice because it your circumstances may differ but I always tell clients typically don’t move out of the house because that avoids disrupting the kids their lives are the same you get to see them as much as you can now.

There are all kinds of factors that would perhaps prohibit you from staying in could be an order of protection adult abuse assault possession of the house mom moves out with the kids whatever it may be but for me that would be one way to avoid disrupting their lives I can think of a couple other but I’ll give you what your thoughts are on that yeah I’ve had that question come up actually in a recent case as well as several cases I always use the example of if you move out of the house in all likelihood your best-case scenario is you’re going to have 50/50 time with your children. Let’s say everybody’s in agreement we’re just going to split time equally that way everybody feels like it’s fair and we’re in a good position great you have 50/50 time if you stay in the house, though you both have 100/100 time, you get to see them seven days a week instead of three and a half days a week. So I think staying in the house as far as how to minimize the disruption to the children. It’s a great place to start, there are circumstances where it could be difficult certainly most circumstances when you file for divorce it it’s probably going to be a little uncomfortable the question is that uncomforted levels something that you can live with something that you can do to try and minimize the impact on the divorce for your children right and I think secondarily once you’d make the decision if you can to stay in the house it’s I always say stay involved and if you’re not already involved and that will help minimize.

I actually serves two purposes. One, it’ll minimize disruption the kids won’t see anything different even though that they may or may not know that mom and dad are are attempting to move in a different direction at some point but at least their routine is the same and now you’re involved in athletics, you’re staying involved in academics, you’re going to the parent-teacher conferences doctor appointments, I mean these are all things that have multiple impacts on your divorce case.

 

 

Two, it’s about preparation and positioning you for achieving the success that you want. I think that’s critical when it comes to thinking about what you want to do to prevent disruption but also to put you in the best position possible and so I guess brings up the question of when guys are thinking about divorce and they have them they maybe have made the decision but they haven’t pulled the trigger in your experience will should they be concerned if they have a single household income where you know it’s not a concern to them and that should that factor into their decision of timing meaning that they may be the only breadwinner in the house. Well, it’s definitely something to think about if you are the sole breadwinner if you are the only person who has a work history those are some things that the courts going to be looking at in your case in determining whether maintenance or alimony is appropriate what amount child support, those are some of the things that it’s going to have a big effect on your case. If you are thinking about divorce and you are the only breadwinner in the house it may be a good time to have that conversation and say hey you know let’s see if if we can get you back into the work force it you know a lot of factors are going to go into that what are your children’s age or ages has the other parent been that stay-at-home caregiver do they have the education to go out and get a job if not is that something that you can look at as well you know getting the other person maybe an associate’s degree, maybe it’s just some training to go out and get a job in the real world because those are some things that when we try to plan for them post divorce and say okay, she’s going to go back to school for a couple years and get a degree so that she can become self-sustaining. That’s great but at that point now, it’s something that you’re paying for through either maintenance or additional property distribution or different things like that.

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So if you have that already going into it, it’s going to help you come out with a much better outcome and circling back to disruption we talked a little bit about moving out so walk me through what you think the factors that should influence guys decisions to either move out or not because many guys come in and they say look out I just can’t I can’t be in the same home. She’s driving me crazy, she’s turning the heat down to 55, you know leaving the windows open the lights on playing music. I’m not getting sleep, I mean I can tell you the stories so that’s the question is I always saw that don’t make a snap decision about moving out because there are so many factors.

What factors it to you should guys consider in their decision-making process and whether or not to move out I think the big one is of course orders of protection you know if she has filed an order of protection then you really don’t have much of a choice at that point especially if it was granted ex parte you’re out of the house unless you are successful on the order protection which you do not have the ability to go back into the house if there is a concern of an order of protection being filed you know threats of it the possibility that the two of you are going to be home alone together where even if something doesn’t happen a story is made up that something did happen you don’t want to put yourself in that situation if you think there is that risk level there might be time to move out if it’s a question of discomfort ultimately it’s a personal decision you know everybody has their different level of uncomfortable that they are comfortable with. But if it’s again I go back a lot of times to is it affecting the children you know are the two of you constantly arguing in front of the children if that’s the case and it’s having a negative effect on the children which you will likely see especially if you are being involved in their lives and things like that that may be another reason to think okay maybe it’s time that we move into separate households let things cool down a little bit and you know try and do that 50/50 type parenting time that we were talking about right so we’ve been talking a lot about what men should be doing and kind of to close out that part in transition to what they shouldn’t do because that’s as equally or maybe perhaps more important.

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I was thinking as you were talking about there’s so many things when we talk about guys bringing a holistic questions is there so many things you should be considering doing before you file or immediately after your files like what do you do with checking accounts what do you do with your savings your retirement your debts I’m working overtime and I’m getting bonuses what do I do with all that you know do I just leave do I take half of the money I mean those are the types of things that I I would tell clients I mean everyone listening out there right now is make that list the question is what I do and get those answers because and you know 10 times out of 10 I would imagine that Mike my answers would be different to every client and so it’s hard for me to tell you now hey you of course take 50% of the checking account take you know 25% take all because the circumstances may affect it but again these are things that you should be doing when you’re contemplating is writing these questions down because there are plenty of questions and hopefully you get equal answers so transitioning to what from what we tell you should be doing let’s talk about what they shouldn’t be doing so give me. There’s so many but well give me a list of things that you think if guys are thinking about pursuing divorce are there any particular things that they should avoid doing that could hurt their case before they file and not during but before they file a couple of things the broadest topic is you know avoid the vices and that doesn’t necessarily just mean illegal things you know of course any illegal activity that you’re involved in I tell my clients look no judgment but it needs to stop I you know we all have stories of situations that have been brought to us but even I’ve seen that come up a lot lately has been the effect of you, kids especially young children.

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We’re cutting them out completely, those are definitely a big thing that you want to avoid. The other big thing that has come up in the last I’d say probably five to ten years especially the last five years social media, don’t go out there on social media and start blasting your child’s mother, your spouse, your spouse’s family.

You know we hear all the stories about seeing those sort of things somebody pulls a screenshot even if you delete it later on all of that at some point was probably going to go in front of a judge. I mean there’s there are all kinds of things that I was making a list as you were talking and thinking that what I would tell clients I was just telling a client yesterday his wife is an alcoholic and into you know a pretty significant you know step where she’s causing significant disruption argument assaulting our client and I told them look you can’t drink you can’t abuse alcohol you can’t get to the point where you get drunk because if you’re going to claim that she’s an alcoholic you want to be clean you want to and that goes for drugs that the best one is clients say well yeah she uses drugs and then they go drug test her and the judge says well I’m going to drug test you as well so you pop positive and so does she and so your arguments are gone in the worst cases she goes negative and you go positive right and so now it’s even worse and so I always caution clients you know those are the things that can hurt your case is making an allegation that you’re equally guilty of or partially guilty of and so it’s easy we you know say okay stop and let’s get clean and now we say look yes we had a problem we did gamble we did drink of course I smoked or whatever it may be but I’m in counseling I’m in a a and now we have our counselor come and testify and she hasn’t prepared that way and those are the things I think that really significantly hurt your case before it even begins and you want to avoid it but social media is one big one it’s terrible it can only serve to hurt you I think yeah I mean I have had it used against us. So those are things that I think before the case even begins its problematic and then additionally girlfriends.

Men who have a relationship I mean their marriage has been over for a while now, they’re in another relationship while they’re married, to me that’s a no-no. It’s a distraction for the judge whether it’s used against you or not again representing Men is about getting the judge to like your client and you’re already you know have a strike against you because your guy last thing you need is a distraction where you know wife’s going to say well he’s had this girlfriend all along and that’s what drove us apart.

So no girlfriends, no new cars, no vacations, no luxurious spending or lavish lifestyle especially if you’re going to say that you can’t afford spousal support those are things that I would all avoid and I don’t know what your thoughts aren’t all those well yeah the girlfriend question is an interesting one I’ve had it come up in cases after the case starts as well and you know guys will ask me well is it okay if I go out and start dating and this is after the divorce has already filed so we know that it’s not a precipitating event to the divorced and so you know should it be an issue no it shouldn’t but it’s a distraction like you said that’s the same word I use with my clients it’s something that the other side is going to try and use to distract the judge from a more simplified version of the case and it’s going to raise the cost of your case which I know is always a big issue and it’s also going to potentially have a negative an impact on you know property distribution custody arrangements depending on you know things like that so yeah girlfriends if you can avoid them.

I strongly advise, in my history trying civil cases, it’s you know as an attorney you’re telling a story and sometimes that story isn’t necessarily the truth, it’s taking the facts that the attorney knows and using those facts and portraying perhaps an alternative possibility and that’s why a girlfriend is a distraction, it can you know the attorney can turn that and to say, that was the motivating force of the division of the marriage and it just you have to be clean. You have to be kind of the higher ground not that you’re the martyr but it would be the preferential position is to say look how the marriage just didn’t work and that’s it and there’s no other factors about it.

What are your goal as the client is to talk about that how do I deal with it what do I do about it and disclose it and it doesn’t matter what it is I always tell clients to keep a journal a diary a day in the life because the littlest of facts become the biggest of facts and it could be pornography it could be whatever it may be but those are things we need to talk about those are things you need to deal with at the very front and because they can destroy your credibility at the beginning and potential for settlement so kind of winding up in terms of thinking about divorce we talked about before the case begins are there anything any steps guys can take during the divorce you know what should they do and what shouldn’t they do while the case is pending other than what we talked about maybe to make their case stronger to further their efforts towards their achieving their goals anything in particular guys should be doing while the case is pending to ensure a better outcome so one thing that’s going to sound a little self-serving coming from an attorney but it’s listen to your attorney.

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If your attorney is giving you advice and you’ve gone out and this is why it’s so important at the beginning of the case to go out and do your research and find an attorney who knows what they’re talking about if you’ve done all that research and then that your attorney gives you advice and you say you know what I think I know better, I’m going to do it this way, you’ve just done all that research for nothing you’re shooting yourself in the foot because your direct connection to the judge the ultimate arbitrator of what’s going to happen in your case is your attorney so you may not always like what they have to say and that’s part of our job as your attorney is to not just give you the sunshine and daisies version of your case but to give you a realistic expectation of what your outcomes are going to be and how you can positively affect those outcomes if the judge wants you to start using sober link which is a monitoring device for those of you who might not know and your attorney suggests.

Start using it  if your attorney tells you to stop drinking, to stop smoking, whatever it may be take their advice especially like I said if you’ve done that research at the beginning, you can be confident that their advice is being given to put you in the best position going forward in your case. It’s expensive advice, so you’re paying for, that’s it that’s why I say, if you’re going to buy a car but you’re going to leave in the garage and never drive it what’s the whole point.

So you’re buying a lawyer, you’re paying for this lawyer services might as well use it and those types of things that you talk about go hand-in-hand with the detriments of listening to bad advice from friends right I mean everybody I said I mentioned earlier everyone’s got a friend and I can’t tell you how many over the last 25 years. I’ve been doing this that well my friend had you know got a divorce and he only paid $100 great terrible advice right don’t listen to your friends when they don’t have a law degree right talking to your friends about their case and your case and the similarities between them you know that’s great you’re, if assuming your judge doesn’t think you have an alcohol issue, that’s great something to do over a beer and commiserate but it’s not something to develop a legal strategy around yeah family law is such a diverse what I call a gray area of law where everything is you know best interest standard there very few bright line tests in family law and so you know just the small different facts different judge that you’re in front of could make a huge difference on your case and so listening to the you know quote-unquote advice of your friend all it’s going to do is cause you a major headache yeah I mean I can tell you in my experience I’ve had cases that I would say not nearly there nearly identical they’re not identical in facts to different judges at two different time periods different results absolutely it happens all the time I mean the judges are human they’re derailed by emotion they don’t necessarily follow the law which means that there are different results and it’s not right but that’s reality it may be the case that they heard in front of you took you know two hours for what should have been a 10-minute conversation and that judge is ticked off so they don’t want to hear your brilliant you know legal argument on some minute, element of the case and they just dismiss everything you have to say right and you have to take the case where you have it now that’s why I think it is important to look I don’t want clients and I want you out there thinking.

I shouldn’t talk to my friends because I think that’s an equally important part of your experience and that is talk about it you shouldn’t hold it in but when you do get advice, I know you’re going to get it from your friends take it with a grain of salt and maybe take that advice and go have a conversation with your lawyer and say look this is what I heard tell me about it and I’ll explain it and I’ll tell you what I think that advice is and whether it’s relevant accurate likely or unlikely so I think that’s maybe as we conclude the best advice today other than preparing and other than researching and other than being a back active and involved that is take advice for what it is everyone’s got it.

The free advice is often the worst advice and the paid advice will tend to be the best advice and so it is can be a detriment. Don’t ignore it but just take it for what it is. So that wraps up our topic today thinking about divorce and what men should do their thoughts, the steps you should take.

We’ll bring you more topics of interest about men facing divorce. thank you for reading the men’s divorce podcast and to schedule your appointment with a Cordell attorney, please visit cordellcordell.com or download the free men’s divorce source app available on the App Store for the latest divorce news and resources, a partner men can count on.

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