Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce [NOOK Book]

Overview

A lawyer and a psychologist offer a groundbreaking divorce strategy that protects both your finances and your family.
From your first thought of divorce through the final paperwork, Your Divorce Advisor takes you step by step toward a divorce that dissolves the marriage but not your dignity, your sense of family, or your financial security. Whether you hire a lawyer or a mediator, or do it yourself, this practical, direct, and empowering guide offers you the wise counsel you ...
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Your Divorce Advisor: A Lawyer and a Psychologist Guide You Through the Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce

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Overview

A lawyer and a psychologist offer a groundbreaking divorce strategy that protects both your finances and your family.
From your first thought of divorce through the final paperwork, Your Divorce Advisor takes you step by step toward a divorce that dissolves the marriage but not your dignity, your sense of family, or your financial security. Whether you hire a lawyer or a mediator, or do it yourself, this practical, direct, and empowering guide offers you the wise counsel you need for both the legal and the emotional processes of ending your marriage.
Your Divorce Advisor shows you how to:
  • Keep a healthy perspective that leads to a successful legal strategy and recognize when emotions threaten your case
  • Protect your assets without destroying your family

Offering:
  • Detailed coverage of all your legal options and guidance through every legal step, including anticipating the emotional repercussions of your decisions
  • More information on custody than any other divorce book, including age-appropriate custody schedules
  • A sample divorce agreement explained one paragraph at a time

Your Divorce Advisor helps you set yourself and your
family on a positive course toward a new life.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743218566
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 7/14/2001
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 324,474
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author


Diana Mercer, J.D., is a divorce mediator in Santa Monica, California, and a partner in the law firm of Noyes & Mercer, P.C., which specializes exclusively in family relations law.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: The Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce: A View from the Summit

Beginning at the End

Divorce is now a commonplace phenomenon in our society. Almost all of us have familiarity with it, either personally or through family or friends. As a result, you begin your own divorce with some knowledge about how to approach it. You have heard horror stories about the legal system, but you have also heard about couples who managed their own divorce without hostility and high costs. Each divorce has threads in common, yet each is unique, reflecting the particulars of two people and their balance of personality, resources, hurts, and desires.

When you're thinking about beginning a divorce, it's also useful to think about your goals for the end of the divorce. Thoughtful planning, anticipation, and goal setting will help you stay on the path to a successful divorce: one which dissolves your marriage, but not your sense of family or financial security.

Looking back after your divorce is finalized, you will feel a combination of the sorrow, anger, hurt, relief, exhilaration, and exhaustion of reaching the top of a long, hard climb. The perspective from the top of any peak is often startling, as you see the view below with a clarity that eluded you during the journey. At the same time, the details become distant and the sights and sounds along the way become memories, each one giving way to the next, until only a hazy watercolor landscape is fixed in your mind. How you feel at the top of the summit depends on the way in which you approached the path. Did you have the right gear? Did you have a positive attitude? Did you work well with yourpartner? Did you take enough water and emergency supplies? Did you choose a good map? Did the weather cooperate? Some aspects were out of your control, but many were not.

Both the legal and emotional processes of divorce mark your path. How you arrived at the decision to end your marriage matters less than how you plan for that ending and beginning your new life. How you care for yourself during the process can mean the difference between a bad situation that never ends, and a future that permits you to move ahead and grow. You can set either a positive or a negative course that will influence your family through a lifetime. Much of your experience will be colored by how you prepared, and how you responded to hardships and curves in the road.

This chapter outlines for you the path you'll follow through the legal forest, and what you can expect to feel at every turn. At the beginning of a divorce, you need to have a picture of the whole journey, so that you will be confident that at the end you'll know:

  • You made the best decisions for your children and yourself
  • You made agreements based on sound decisions rather than emotional responses
  • Your choices minimized the inevitable hurts and losses for you and your family
  • Your actions are leading you in healthy directions toward the next phase of your life, whatever that turns out to be

Overview of the Legal Process of Divorce

In most states, the legal divorce process is clear-cut and simple, which is ironic, given the number of emotional roadblocks that can complicate and slow the process. How long it takes to complete a divorce case depends on your local rules and court systems. Variables such as court scheduling times and judges' vacation schedules can also delay your case.

The basic process begins when one spouse files the divorce by submitting the necessary forms to the court. This can be done with or without an attorney.

This basic process includes:

  • completing the forms required, typically a divorce petition or complaint, with general requests for resolution, i.e., "joint custody" or "fair division of assets and debts"
  • official notice to the other spouse
  • either a response from the other spouse, or proof that the other spouse has received notice
  • filing the papers with the court

Once the papers have been filed, a mandatory waiting period begins. Each state has a different waiting period, from six weeks to one year. Some states require actual physical separation; others anticipate that you and your spouse will live together until the waiting period expires. During this waiting period, however, the court has the power to make preliminary orders about certain aspects if they are in dispute:

  • payment of household expenses
  • custody and visitation
  • child support and alimony
  • use of certain possessions during the case, usually the house or the car
  • whether or not a custody investigation will be necessary
  • whether or not there is a possibility for reconciliation
  • relief from spousal abuse

During this preliminary phase, the court becomes involved only if these matters are disputed. The court's goal is to stabilize the situation, ensure that necessary bills get paid, and protect children from unnecessary or excessive disruption to their lives.

Court intervention is not necessary if there is agreement on the interim issues. These matters, along with the final settlement of the issues in the case, can be mediated, negotiated, or settled out of court at any time. Often, parties and/or their lawyers are able to settle some or all matters on a temporary basis, with the understanding that these agreements may be renegotiated before the case is finalized. When the interim arrangements are settled, they may be written up and presented to the court for approval, or agreed upon informally. When the court approves this agreement, it becomes a court order, and is enforceable by the court. An informal settlement that is not approved by a judge is not enforceable by the court.

If court intervention is necessary for these temporary provisions, the court holds a hearing, a sort of "mini-trial." The judge will hear limited evidence, either through testimony or documents, about your finances, needs, and issues concerning the children. The judge then makes temporary court orders designed to stabilize your living situation while the case proceeds and the waiting period expires. The result of the hearing becomes a court order and is enforceable by the court.

After the initial filing and interim issues have been resolved, several things must happen before the case can be finalized:

  • you and your spouse prepare and exchange financial disclosures
  • decisions are made about who will keep each asset and who will pay each debt
  • decisions are made about who will continue to live in your home or apartment, or whether other living arrangements are necessary
  • determinations as to how much spousal support and child support are appropriate, if any, and whether either spouse or a child has special financial needs that must be considered
  • if disclosures are not forthcoming, or if financial records are unclear, additional investigations may be necessary
  • if custody and visitation are issues, a custody evaluation or investigation must be completed

Once the waiting period has expired, and any necessary disclosures or investigations are completed, your case is ready to come to a final judgment.

There are three ways in which this may happen:

  • Uncontested trial: all matters are agreed upon, and a written agreement is presented to the judge for review on the final hearing date
  • Limited contested trial: some matters are agreed upon, such as custody and visitation, or certain matters about finances, but other issues remain unresolved, requiring a court trial limited to those issues
  • Fully contested trial: all financial matters are in dispute, or custody and visitation are not agreed upon, and a court trial will need to be held on all issues.

While most cases begin with unresolved issues, over 95 percent of these cases are settled prior to a divorce trial. Sometimes resolution takes only a few hours; for other cases, it takes months or years. Only about 5 percent of all divorce cases end up in fully contested trials.

Once the case has been concluded either by a court-approved agreement or by a judge after a trial, the matter goes to final judgment, and you are divorced. The agreement or judge's orders become the court orders that govern your case. In some cases, this conclusion is final, but in others, parts of the court orders may be modified in the future.

Property orders are not modifiable by the court after the final judgment except in extraordinary circumstances, such as the discovery of fraud. Other issues, such as spousal support, child support, or custody and visitation, may be adjusted to account for changes in circumstances upon proper motion to the court.

Orders that are made by the court but not followed by the parties may also be enforced by the court through contempt proceedings.

Emotional Guideposts for Divorce

Your success with the legal process will depend in large part on the decisions you make at each stage along the way. As you enter and complete each phase of the legal process, intense emotions may create obstacles at any turn. You can learn to understand these feelings and get past them to act constructively and rationally.

At the same time, you will also have to meet the challenge of independent living. This is no small task, but it is important if you wish to stop feeling lost, helpless, or angry. The checklist below summarizes the emotional guideposts that will lead you through the legal system. As this book proceeds, you will see how you must walk the legal path and the emotional path at the same time.

  1. Recognizing anger, hurt, distrust, revenge, fear, and other emotions associated with loss
  2. Learning to assess and manage household finances and responsibilities
  3. Developing practical job and career options
  4. Finding legal advice and expertise that counsels but does not inflame
  5. Establishing a safe environment for yourself and your children
  6. Negotiating firmly but fairly to obtain a financial settlement that maximizes family assets
  7. Handling anxiety without unduly burdening the children, your spouse, or significant others
  8. Using the legal system as a means of protection and structure, not intimidation or blackmail
  9. Maintaining a respectful distance from your ex-spouse without creating unnecessary alienation
  10. Creating legal and financial documents that establish your new independence and preserve family assets over time
  11. Depending upon your role in the divorcing family, you will face some additional challenges, legal and emotional:

If You Initiated the Separation or Divorce

  1. Informing your partner of your decision with consideration for its consequences
  2. Preparing for upcoming events without resorting to sneak attacks
  3. Negotiating generously but with sufficient attention to your needs in the future
  4. Checking your impatience to finish the divorce and allowing enough time for clarity, processing, and acceptance without diverting from your goal
  5. Adopting patience with your partner's grief responses, including his or her rage

If You Are Faced with a Separation or Divorce You Did Not Want

  1. Recognizing the many sides of anger, shame, and sorrow as you experience them
  2. Checking for signs of depression, and treating them if needed
  3. Identifying the use of helplessness as a defense or to punish your spouse
  4. Refraining from wielding children, financial information, or resources as a weapon
  5. Knowing when you need more support, and from whom and where to get it

If You Have Children and Are Divorcing

  1. Developing ways of working together as parents that maintain the distance desired or needed
  2. Determining children's needs jointly
  3. Communicating to and about the children with the details needed to assure consistency and stability in their lives
  4. Providing adequately for your children's financial, emotional, and parental needs even when doing so deprives you of personal satisfaction
  5. Setting up decision-making and custody agreements that are developmentally appropriate and sufficiently flexible to benefit your children
  6. Maintaining parental boundaries, authority, availability, and expressions of warmth
  7. Restraining your desire to minimize your partner's access to the children
  8. Minimizing the court's role in your family's and children's lives
  9. Checking for signs of stress in your children and yourself and obtaining timely psychological, medical, or educational assistance
  10. Establishing new family routines, celebrations, and traditions that are respectful of each of your child's families

If Your Friends and Family Ask How They Can Help When people volunteer to help, you can ask them to:

  1. Listen more often than sharing advice
  2. Refrain from "spouse-bashing" and help think of ways to make the situation more tolerable
  3. Provide practical support by babysitting, house sitting, running errands, or planning a night out with friends
  4. Keep you company when loneliness sets in
  5. Serve as a buffer during transitions and family events
  6. Reinforce the importance over time of extended family and continuity of relationships

With these guideposts to mark the way, you are ready to embark on the path through the legal and emotional process of divorce. Along the way, look for the signs indicating that you are headed in the right direction, and aim to reach the summit with a better understanding of yourself and a sense of control over your destiny.

Copyright © 2001 by Diana Mercer, J.D.

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Table of Contents


Contents

Foreword

Introduction

Chapter 1: The Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce:

A View from the Summit

Beginning at the End

Overview of the Legal Process of Divorce

Emotional Guideposts for Divorce

Chapter 2: Planning For Success:

Your Success Depends on the Path You Choose

The First Steps

How Do I Start the Legal Process?

How Could This Be Happening to Our Family?

Why Are My Feelings So Complicated?

What Will My Family and Friends Think About Me?

The Next Steps

What Should I Do Before Leaving?

What If I Can't Mobilize Myself to Do

This Planning?

Personal Assessment

Chapter 3: Making the Initial Decisions:

Charting Your Own Course

What Are My Legal Options for Ending a Relationship?

What Are My Options for Divorce Representation?

How Do I Find, Choose, and Use a Mediator?

How Do I Find, Choose, and Use a Lawyer?

Emotional Ramifications of Early Legal Decisions

How Do I Handle the Conflicts That Arise Between Us as We Prepare to Divorce?

Personal Assessment

Chapter 4: Steps to Success: Taking one Hill at a Time

Filing for Divorce

Does It Make a Difference Who Files First?

Preparing Your Spouse to Receive Divorce Papers

Arranging for Service of the Papers

The Mandatory Waiting Period

Staying in or Leaving the House

What Are the Legal Issues We Must Settle During the Waiting Period and Prior to Divorce?

Alimony

Property Division

Personal Property in All Jurisdictions

Assets

How Do We Use Our Assets for Mutual Benefit?

What Should We Do About Our House?

Tax Considerations

Fault

Will Fault Issues in the Divorce Impact Asset and Property Division Even in "No-Fault" Divorce?

If Fault Rarely Affects Asset and Property Distribution in Court, What Role Does Fault Play in the Divorce?

What Will Be Happening Between My Spouse and Me During This Time?

Negotiating with Your Spouse: Skills and Tips

How Do I Manage My Anxiety During This Time?

What If I Have Sex with My Spouse?

What If I Want to Date Someone New?

What Do I Do If I Want to Have a Calmer, Friendlier Divorce but My Lawyer Has Advised Me to Be Tougher?

Personal Assessment

Chapter 5: Evidence and Pretrial Procedures:

You Can Never Be Too Prepared

Putting the Evidence Together

Discovery: Releases, Interrogatories, Depositions,

and Subpoenas

Hidden Income

Personal and Fault Issues

What Are the Standard Pretrial Procedures?

Court-Sponsored Settlement Conferences

How to Use Pretrial Process

When and Why Should I Go to Trial?

Effecting a Settlement

Personal Assessment

Chapter 6: Trials: Taking the Long, Hard Route

Court Intervention

What Is the Procedure in a Trial?

What Counts as Evidence?

What Documents Are Needed by the Court?

How Can I Do Much of the Work Myself and Save the

Lawyer's Fees?

What Kinds of Witnesses Should I Consider?

What Kinds of Discovery Can Be Used at Trial as

Evidence?

How Do I Prepare for the Financial Part of the Trial?

If I Did Something Along the Way That May Hurt My Case, Should I Lie About It?

What If My Spouse Is Lying?

What Am I Likely to Be Feeling During the Trial?

Personal Assessment

Chapter 7: Taking Care of Myself and My Children:

How Not to Get Lost

The Decision to Separate

How Do We Tell the Children?

How Will My Children Feel and React?

How Can I Best Help My Children During This Early Stage of Divorce?

Will My Children Be Okay in a Divorced Family?

Personal Assessment

Chapter 8: Legal and Residential Arrangements:

Finding Familiar Paths For Your Family

What Are Our Legal Options for

Raising Our Children After Divorce?

Shared Parenting (Co-parenting) Versus Custody

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Shared

Parenting?

Do Children Fare Better in Shared Parenting Schedules Than in More Traditional Custody Situations?

Developing a Schedule for Living Arrangements

What Are the Most Common Living Arrangements and Schedules Adopted by Divorcing Parents?

Are There Alternatives to the Typical Shared Parenting

Plans?

What Are Recommended Schedules for Children of

Different Ages?

Common Misconceptions in Thinking About Shared

Parenting

What Are the Necessary Elements of a Parenting Plan?

What If We Can't Agree?

What Do I Do If My Child Doesn't Want to Visit?

Can I Relocate?

Where Child Support Fits In

What Are Child Support Guidelines?

Child Support Versus Custody as a Financial Decision

Where Child Support Is Spent

Personal Assessment

Chapter 9: Contested Custody Cases:

Hazardous Territory and Loose Footing

When to Consider a Custody Battle

Telling Your Children About Why You Are Involved

in a Court Battle

The Special Features of a Contested Custody Case

Evaluations of the Child and Family

How Is an Evaluator Chosen?

What Happens in an Evaluation?

What Are the Criteria Considered in an Evaluation?

How Can I Maximize My Chances of Attaining a

Successful Outcome?

How Does the Court Use Evaluation Recommendations?

In the Event of a Trial

How Do I Help My Children at This Stage?

What Do I Do If I Think My Spouse Has Turned the Children Against Me?

Personal Assessment

Chapter 10: Domestic Violence and Other Forms of Abuse:

When the Route Is Really Dangerous

Definitions of Violence

Patterns of Abusive Relationships

Setting Clear Boundaries for Yourself and Your Children

When Your Children Are Involved and Affected

What If My Child Has Witnessed the Violence?

Assessing and Acting When You Are at Risk

How Do I Recognize Whether I Am at Risk for My Partner's Abuse or Escalating Violence?

What Do I Do First?

What Constitutes an Abusive Relationship as Far as the Court Is Concerned?

Types of Protection Afforded by Law: Restraining Orders and Orders

of Protection

How Should I Prepare to Successfully Obtain a Temporary Restraining Order?

How Do I Enforce the Orders with My Spouse?

Both Men and Women Can Qualify for a Restraining Order

What the Order Can and Cannot Do for You

Children's Involvement in the Legal Process

What If My Child Is the One Being Abused?

Should Any Child Involved in a Violent Family Be Forbidden to See the Offending Parent?

What If My Children Don't See It My Way?

Emotional Blackmail of Children

Abduction

Personal Assessment

Chapter 11: Life After Divorce:

When the Horizon Beckons Anew

Follow-Up Tasks

To-Do List

Obtain a Certified Copy of Your Final Judgment

Credit Issues

Health Insurance

Social Security

Record Keeping

What Kinds of Changes May Need to Be Made in

the Future?

If You Do Not Have Children

If You Have Children

Enforcement of Orders

Embarking on Your New Life

How Can I Re-create the Healthiest Life for Myself and

My Children?

How Do I Handle Disciplining My Children?

What About My Own Dating and Sex Life?

How Do I Establish New Family Traditions?

Will I Ever Be Free of the Court's Reach?

Personal Assessment

Chapter 12: Conclusions: At the Summit

Appendix

Resources

References

Index


Read More Show Less

First Chapter

Chapter 1: The Legal and Emotional Landscape of Divorce: A View from the Summit

Beginning at the End

Divorce is now a commonplace phenomenon in our society. Almost all of us have familiarity with it, either personally or through family or friends. As a result, you begin your own divorce with some knowledge about how to approach it. You have heard horror stories about the legal system, but you have also heard about couples who managed their own divorce without hostility and high costs. Each divorce has threads in common, yet each is unique, reflecting the particulars of two people and their balance of personality, resources, hurts, and desires.

When you're thinking about beginning a divorce, it's also useful to think about your goals for the end of the divorce. Thoughtful planning, anticipation, and goal setting will help you stay on the path to a successful divorce: one which dissolves your marriage, but not your sense of family or financial security.

Looking back after your divorce is finalized, you will feel a combination of the sorrow, anger, hurt, relief, exhilaration, and exhaustion of reaching the top of a long, hard climb. The perspective from the top of any peak is often startling, as you see the view below with a clarity that eluded you during the journey. At the same time, the details become distant and the sights and sounds along the way become memories, each one giving way to the next, until only a hazy watercolor landscape is fixed in your mind. How you feel at the top of the summit depends on the way in which you approached the path. Did you have the right gear? Did you have a positive attitude? Did you work well with your partner? Did you take enough water and emergency supplies? Did you choose a good map? Did the weather cooperate? Some aspects were out of your control, but many were not.

Both the legal and emotional processes of divorce mark your path. How you arrived at the decision to end your marriage matters less than how you plan for that ending and beginning your new life. How you care for yourself during the process can mean the difference between a bad situation that never ends, and a future that permits you to move ahead and grow. You can set either a positive or a negative course that will influence your family through a lifetime. Much of your experience will be colored by how you prepared, and how you responded to hardships and curves in the road.

This chapter outlines for you the path you'll follow through the legal forest, and what you can expect to feel at every turn. At the beginning of a divorce, you need to have a picture of the whole journey, so that you will be confident that at the end you'll know:

  • You made the best decisions for your children and yourself
  • You made agreements based on sound decisions rather than emotional responses
  • Your choices minimized the inevitable hurts and losses for you and your family
  • Your actions are leading you in healthy directions toward the next phase of your life, whatever that turns out to be

Overview of the Legal Process of Divorce

In most states, the legal divorce process is clear-cut and simple, which is ironic, given the number of emotional roadblocks that can complicate and slow the process. How long it takes to complete a divorce case depends on your local rules and court systems. Variables such as court scheduling times and judges' vacation schedules can also delay your case.

The basic process begins when one spouse files the divorce by submitting the necessary forms to the court. This can be done with or without an attorney.

This basic process includes:

  • completing the forms required, typically a divorce petition or complaint, with general requests for resolution, i.e., "joint custody" or "fair division of assets and debts"
  • official notice to the other spouse
  • either a response from the other spouse, or proof that the other spouse has received notice
  • filing the papers with the court

Once the papers have been filed, a mandatory waiting period begins. Each state has a different waiting period, from six weeks to one year. Some states require actual physical separation; others anticipate that you and your spouse will live together until the waiting period expires. During this waiting period, however, the court has the power to make preliminary orders about certain aspects if they are in dispute:

  • payment of household expenses
  • custody and visitation
  • child support and alimony
  • use of certain possessions during the case, usually the house or the car
  • whether or not a custody investigation will be necessary
  • whether or not there is a possibility for reconciliation
  • relief from spousal abuse

During this preliminary phase, the court becomes involved only if these matters are disputed. The court's goal is to stabilize the situation, ensure that necessary bills get paid, and protect children from unnecessary or excessive disruption to their lives.

Court intervention is not necessary if there is agreement on the interim issues. These matters, along with the final settlement of the issues in the case, can be mediated, negotiated, or settled out of court at any time. Often, parties and/or their lawyers are able to settle some or all matters on a temporary basis, with the understanding that these agreements may be renegotiated before the case is finalized. When the interim arrangements are settled, they may be written up and presented to the court for approval, or agreed upon informally. When the court approves this agreement, it becomes a court order, and is enforceable by the court. An informal settlement that is not approved by a judge is not enforceable by the court.

If court intervention is necessary for these temporary provisions, the court holds a hearing, a sort of "mini-trial." The judge will hear limited evidence, either through testimony or documents, about your finances, needs, and issues concerning the children. The judge then makes temporary court orders designed to stabilize your living situation while the case proceeds and the waiting period expires. The result of the hearing becomes a court order and is enforceable by the court.

After the initial filing and interim issues have been resolved, several things must happen before the case can be finalized:

  • you and your spouse prepare and exchange financial disclosures
  • decisions are made about who will keep each asset and who will pay each debt
  • decisions are made about who will continue to live in your home or apartment, or whether other living arrangements are necessary
  • determinations as to how much spousal support and child support are appropriate, if any, and whether either spouse or a child has special financial needs that must be considered
  • if disclosures are not forthcoming, or if financial records are unclear, additional investigations may be necessary
  • if custody and visitation are issues, a custody evaluation or investigation must be completed

Once the waiting period has expired, and any necessary disclosures or investigations are completed, your case is ready to come to a final judgment.

There are three ways in which this may happen:

  • Uncontested trial: all matters are agreed upon, and a written agreement is presented to the judge for review on the final hearing date
  • Limited contested trial: some matters are agreed upon, such as custody and visitation, or certain matters about finances, but other issues remain unresolved, requiring a court trial limited to those issues
  • Fully contested trial: all financial matters are in dispute, or custody and visitation are not agreed upon, and a court trial will need to be held on all issues.

While most cases begin with unresolved issues, over 95 percent of these cases are settled prior to a divorce trial. Sometimes resolution takes only a few hours; for other cases, it takes months or years. Only about 5 percent of all divorce cases end up in fully contested trials.

Once the case has been concluded either by a court-approved agreement or by a judge after a trial, the matter goes to final judgment, and you are divorced. The agreement or judge's orders become the court orders that govern your case. In some cases, this conclusion is final, but in others, parts of the court orders may be modified in the future.

Property orders are not modifiable by the court after the final judgment except in extraordinary circumstances, such as the discovery of fraud. Other issues, such as spousal support, child support, or custody and visitation, may be adjusted to account for changes in circumstances upon proper motion to the court.

Orders that are made by the court but not followed by the parties may also be enforced by the court through contempt proceedings.

Emotional Guideposts for Divorce

Your success with the legal process will depend in large part on the decisions you make at each stage along the way. As you enter and complete each phase of the legal process, intense emotions may create obstacles at any turn. You can learn to understand these feelings and get past them to act constructively and rationally.

At the same time, you will also have to meet the challenge of independent living. This is no small task, but it is important if you wish to stop feeling lost, helpless, or angry. The checklist below summarizes the emotional guideposts that will lead you through the legal system. As this book proceeds, you will see how you must walk the legal path and the emotional path at the same time.

  1. Recognizing anger, hurt, distrust, revenge, fear, and other emotions associated with loss
  2. Learning to assess and manage household finances and responsibilities
  3. Developing practical job and career options
  4. Finding legal advice and expertise that counsels but does not inflame
  5. Establishing a safe environment for yourself and your children
  6. Negotiating firmly but fairly to obtain a financial settlement that maximizes family assets
  7. Handling anxiety without unduly burdening the children, your spouse, or significant others
  8. Using the legal system as a means of protection and structure, not intimidation or blackmail
  9. Maintaining a respectful distance from your ex-spouse without creating unnecessary alienation
  10. Creating legal and financial documents that establish your new independence and preserve family assets over time
  11. Depending upon your role in the divorcing family, you will face some additional challenges, legal and emotional:

If You Initiated the Separation or Divorce

  1. Informing your partner of your decision with consideration for its consequences
  2. Preparing for upcoming events without resorting to sneak attacks
  3. Negotiating generously but with sufficient attention to your needs in the future
  4. Checking your impatience to finish the divorce and allowing enough time for clarity, processing, and acceptance without diverting from your goal
  5. Adopting patience with your partner's grief responses, including his or her rage

If You Are Faced with a Separation or Divorce You Did Not Want

  1. Recognizing the many sides of anger, shame, and sorrow as you experience them
  2. Checking for signs of depression, and treating them if needed
  3. Identifying the use of helplessness as a defense or to punish your spouse
  4. Refraining from wielding children, financial information, or resources as a weapon
  5. Knowing when you need more support, and from whom and where to get it

If You Have Children and Are Divorcing

  1. Developing ways of working together as parents that maintain the distance desired or needed
  2. Determining children's needs jointly
  3. Communicating to and about the children with the details needed to assure consistency and stability in their lives
  4. Providing adequately for your children's financial, emotional, and parental needs even when doing so deprives you of personal satisfaction
  5. Setting up decision-making and custody agreements that are developmentally appropriate and sufficiently flexible to benefit your children
  6. Maintaining parental boundaries, authority, availability, and expressions of warmth
  7. Restraining your desire to minimize your partner's access to the children
  8. Minimizing the court's role in your family's and children's lives
  9. Checking for signs of stress in your children and yourself and obtaining timely psychological, medical, or educational assistance
  10. Establishing new family routines, celebrations, and traditions that are respectful of each of your child's families

If Your Friends and Family Ask How They Can Help When people volunteer to help, you can ask them to:

  1. Listen more often than sharing advice
  2. Refrain from "spouse-bashing" and help think of ways to make the situation more tolerable
  3. Provide practical support by babysitting, house sitting, running errands, or planning a night out with friends
  4. Keep you company when loneliness sets in
  5. Serve as a buffer during transitions and family events
  6. Reinforce the importance over time of extended family and continuity of relationships

With these guideposts to mark the way, you are ready to embark on the path through the legal and emotional process of divorce. Along the way, look for the signs indicating that you are headed in the right direction, and aim to reach the summit with a better understanding of yourself and a sense of control over your destiny.

Copyright © 2001 by Diana Mercer, J.D.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2007

    Thank goodness for this book

    Excellent, excellent book. It does have everything. Very helpful!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2001

    Thank God for this book

    I don't normally read books like this, I bought it out of desparation. This book helped me connect with the resources I needed, and helped me to get in touch with my feelings. The book is written clearly and in plain English. I even decided to share it with my Ex, which itself helped to take some tension out of the situation. This is a GREAT book and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who finds themselves with a divorce on their hands.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2001

    divorce made clear, finally!

    I'm not a big self help book buyer. But this one was really good! It explained in 'normal people language' all of the legal processes along with what I might be feeling during each step. It pointed out mistakes I might make, how to save money, and how to use my lawyer effectively.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 14, 2001

    One Book With Everything

    This is the only book I've seen that covers everything from A-Z. It has all of the legal procedures plus all of the psychology stuff in it, and it's laid out chronologically as you go through your divorce. I bought 5-6 other divorce books but none had everything in it. This one has stuff about scheduling custody for kids, how to figure the equity in your house, how to decide if you even want to keep your house, a complete divorce agreement, and even stuff about how to not fight with your spouse. A+++ on this one. I feel like I got $20,000 of legal advice and 2 years of therapy for about $13.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2001

    Excellent, Comprehensive Guidebook

    Your Divorce Advisor is the most comprehensive and accessible guidebook designed to help those navigate the turbulent waters of divorce. An experienced lawyer and very wise psychologist, who is a recognized expert on child development issues, combine to share their wisdom on how best to anticipate and manage the emotional, financial and legal challenges of divorce. Your Divorce Advisor is both accessible to the lay reader and very helpful to the professional. It not only warns of the common pitfalls in the process but incorporates the hope and optimism that divorce, properly managed, can be a difficult passage on the way to a brighter chapter in the lives of the individuals involved.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2001

    Now I Know What I'm Doing

    Getting Divorced sucks so much. I'm sitting around all the time, fretting about my losses. I wish I would have had this book, when the whole process started. However, with it now in hand, I'm mentally, emotionally, and spiritually armed to protect myself and my family. My real family. I'm surrounded by so many well meaning friends and relatives - BUT THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKLING ABOUT!. Now that I've got this book, I'm gonna give them advice when they get their divorces.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 7 Customer Reviews

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