9 Simple Tips for Talking to your Children About Divorce

If you and your spouse have decided to get divorce, you have to be mindful and extremely careful when you tell your children.  There is no way to avoid it being one of the worst moments of their lives, but you can help ease them through this difficult period and minimize the fallout.  Here are a few helpful guidelines to keep in mind when breaking the news to your children:

  1. Pick the right time and don’t let them overhear it. If you and your spouse are only “thinking” about separating or divorcing, there is no reason to tell the kids until you know for sure.  You want to be able to set up the conditions in which they hear this terrible news as much as possible.  So that your kids won’t feel rushed or pressured, deliver the news when you and your children will be able to spend some time together afterwards.
  2. Break the news together. Telling the kids together prevents confusion from hearing different versions of the story, and more importantly, communicates to them that you and your spouse are still a parenting team.  Hopefully this approach will help promote a sense of confidence in the parents’ desire and ability to continue making decisions together.
  3. Reassure them that the divorce is not their fault. Regardless of how well you tell them, your children may still blame themselves because kids often personalize decisions.  It’s imperative to reassure your kids that the divorce has nothing to do with them and that the breakup is out of their control.
  4. Avoid oversharing and blaming or badmouthing the other parent. Spare your children the details and avoid blaming your spouse for the breakup. Although it may be tempting to disclose information about finances or affairs, keep in mind that this will only create more confusion for your kids.  Kids must feel safe and secure in their relationships with each parent in order to have consistently healthy interactions on both sides.
  5. Tell them that you love them. Explain that while the relationship between grown-ups sometimes changes, a parent’s love will never change, that both of their parents will continue to love them and be with them every step of the way during this time and in the future.
  6. Define some terms for them. Be straightforward and clear and explain to them in an age-appropriate manner, what divorce is and is not. Sharing details in this manner will demonstrate to the kids that there is a plan in place and both parents are working together to create a climate of support and stability.
  7. Stay the parents. Maintain routines, boundaries and discipline so that the kids have a feeling of security. Show them that they can still count on the both of you to be parents and take care of them.  Try to work together with your spouse to be a united fro with the kids so they continue feeling secure in your parenting.  Keep in mind that when parents can’t agree on a course of action, it’s usually the kids who suffer the most.
  8. Let them feel the way they feel. Let them be sad, angry or confused. There is no wrong way to feel, and these feelings may fluctuate over time. But remember that there is outside help available if you think they need it.  Change can be overwhelming and scary for children; it may take them time to come to terms with new living and custody arrangements
  9. Do not make or let the child become an adult. Make sure that they know it’s not their responsibility to try and fix the marriage. Do not put the child in a position of comforting or becoming a companion of a parent who is now alone. Remember that the emotional needs of your children supersede the needs of the parents, so keep as much of it as you can between the adults.

When is Collaborative Law the Best Solution?

When a couple is contemplating divorce, the parties are not always on the same page-one party wants a divorce more than the other, one wants to reconcile, one wants to weigh the options, etc.  For such a couple, collaborative law provides an opportunity to discuss reconciliation as well as divorce.  The collaborative law process provides a unique alternative to the traditional adversarial approach for resolving family law matters like divorce, but yet is widely unknown or misunderstood by the majority of couples that could benefit most from it.

Collaborative law is a process in which the parties and their counsel agree in writing to make a good faith attempt to reach a mutually-agreeable settlement without court intervention. Both parties work together to craft a way to restore their relationship, dissolve their marriage or resolve any family law matter in a way that considers everyone’s needs and minimizes conflict.

There are two predominate reasons that couples contemplating divorce generally decide against going the collaborative law route. First, if collaborative law methods fail, the parties will have to go get another attorney.  True.  Second, there is no “hammer” in collaborative law; in other words, there is no threat of being called into court to keep the parties in line and/or the process on track.  Also true.

However, even in recognition of these two limitations, collaborative law is still the best solution for many divorcing couples who would be able to amicably discuss the critical issues surrounding their divorce and negotiate a reasonable resolution.  Such an agreement will result in mutual benefit for both parties, as well as establish the groundwork for a peaceable, civil relationship between the parties moving ahead. The conventional process of divorce or other family law matters can drive parties -already separated from each other – even farther apart. It takes a toll on individual dignity, and often children suffer the most. In reality, if you go to court you will likely lose almost all chance of keeping your marriage together. Most judges know nothing about reconciliation and once the cycle of poor communication and conflict management is made worse by litigation, there will likely be no way back. Ultimately, in the right situations, collaborative law presents a more humane, respectful way to end a marriage, or reconcile in the alternative.

Furthermore, with just a few general guidelines, you may be able to determine whether collaborative law could be your golden ticket towards resolving your divorce or family legal issues, or will be a total failure.  Most importantly, both parties must be committed to working together to reconcile or have an amicable divorce.  The couple needs to be able to be open and honest and cooperative even in difficult cases that involve issues such as custody, extra-marital relationships, unique possession schedules and substantial and complex property issues.  The couple must be able to look towards the future and focus on what good can come out of a difficult situation, rather than dwelling on past conflicts and dredging up dirt on the other party.  The collaborative process will most likely be unsuccessful for couples that cannot do this and instead refuse to negotiate or compromise at any cost.

However, collaborative law will not be successful in every case. The main reason that a collaborative law case fails is because it should not have been a collaborative law case in the first place. Whether the lawyer’s attitude/knowledge was lacking, or the parties were incapable of using the necessary discipline to participate in these kinds of negotiations, collaborative law is not always going to be the best solution.  Therefore, you and your spouse must weigh all the options and evaluate the situation to determine whether or not collaborative law is right for you and your particular situation.

Advantages of Collaborative Law vs. Traditional Divorce Litigation

If you are contemplating divorce, collaborative law may be the better option for you.  Here are the top reasons why:

  1. Privacy. Are you concerned with keeping your personal and financial information private? The collaborative process is usually confidential, whereas the court process requires the court to keep a public record and conduct public hearings and trials in open court.  Collaborative meetings are private, so your personal and financial information can be protected.
  1. Control. Do you want to make your own decisions and create solutions with your spouse? You have more control over the outcome through the collaborative law process. You can voice your opinions and know that you will be heard.  You get to agree to settlement issues based on compromise and fair play, instead of having a judge make the final decisions that affect your lives.  Because you are playing a more active role in the divorce, there is far less stress and anxiety involved. Also, you can choose you and your spouse’s attorneys, knowing that both are committed to the collaborative divorce model.
  1. Help from Neutral Specialists. Do you want to save time and money for the best advice?  Attorneys often use jointly-hired neutral experts who work for both parties to help create solutions.  Sharing these neutral specialists saves money and helps the couple feel secure and really understand what’s going on.
    1. A financial planner can often save money (and assets) for both parties by wise use of budgeting and tax planning when assets will be divided.
    2. A process facilitator will help the parties communicate in ways that allow them to effectively explain their positions on issues and reduce tension.
    3. A child specialist can provide assistance with parenting issues and help create a custom, workable parenting plan that suits the children and parents.
    4. Mental health professionals are especially helpful where one or more of the parties has unrealistic expectations or other high conflict situations
  1. Time. Do you want to decide how fast to move and determine your own time schedule?  The process takes less time than litigation because you choose the time and place you meet instead of dealing with the timetable of busy divorce courts.  You spend less time at the courthouse waiting for your case to be called and observing scheduling conferences and temporary hearings that seem to have very little to do with the outcome of your case.  Also, you and your spouse can take your time to decide wat you want to do about your marriage.  You don’t have the pressure of a quick trial setting, which can put a lot of unnecessary, additional stress on a couple that is considering reconciliation.
  1. Money. Are you worried about being able to afford a divorce? Collaborative law is less expensive than litigation.  Attorney fees and court costs add up quickly.  Also, sharing neutral specialists is cheaper than hiring opposing experts during litigation.  However, if the process fails and you and your spouse don’t reach an agreement, you both most likely will have to hire new attorneys and going through the court process.
  1. Future Amicable Relationship. Do you want/need to maintain a relationship with your spouse? This is especially important for parents who see the value in cooperating and sharing the raising of their kids. Because the process is voluntary, it’s more likely that you and your spouse will be “on the same page” with your desired outcome.  You know that you worked together to make life easier for everyone, which is especially important if you have children. For these reasons, you both are more likely to honor the agreement post-divorce.

 

Dividing Time During the Winter Holidays

The holidays are usually a time for families to come together.  For those of you contemplating divorce or newly divorced, this may be the first time you have to think about your child custody and visitation agreements.  Understandably, trying to work out an agreement for the holidays may become one of the more emotional and contested matters between you and your spouse.  You want to do what is in the best interest of your children and to continue providing joyful holiday memories for them, but you also want them to spend time with you and your spouse’s family.

Families are forced to restructure and make new holiday traditions after a divorce.  You and your spouse will have to consider how you want to spend the holidays and more importantly, what will benefit your children the most.  To relieve some of the stress, come up with a game plan well in advance, so that you won’t be scrambling to do so at the last minute.  Here are a few good ideas:

Alternating Holidays

Every other year, you and your spouse take responsibility in hosting the holiday gatherings.  For example, one parent has the odd-numbered years and the other the even-numbered years.  It will be important to communicate with your children and help them understand that they won’t be spending every holiday with you.

Splitting the Holidays

This is very common.  The children would celebrate Thanksgiving with one parent’s side of the family and Christmas with the other parent’s side.  Or, if the parents live close by, the children could spend half of the day with one parent and the second half with the other parent.  Planning and communication are key for this arrangement, as you want to avoid having the children spend most of their time traveling.

Doubling up on Holidays

I’m sure most children would agree, that there is no better way to spend a holiday than doing it twice!  The children can spend the actual holiday with one parent, and then celebrate the same holiday on another day with the other.

As always, your children come first and you should focus on taking the necessary steps now to ensure that they will have memories to look back on and cherish.  This is a difficult time of year for everyone, but remember that you can continue to maintain old traditions, while also starting new ones.

 

Child Custody Orders-Plan Ahead to Avoid Conflict

Both children and parents change over time-children grow up, parents change jobs, remarry, buy new houses, and experience problems and successes-change is inevitable, right?  But how do changes such as these effect children and custody orders?

The Texas Family Code allows modification of custody orders until the child turns 18, but sets a two-prong standard.  First, modification requires a “material and substantial” change of the children or the parents.  See Texas Family Code § 156.101.  The dictionary definition of material is “having importance.”  The dictionary definition of substantial is “important, essential.”  So, the change must be really important to rise to the level of change warranting modification of the orders regarding the children.  Secondly, the modification must also be in the best interest of the children.

So, the question arises-can you plan for changes that could occur in the future so as to avoid having to modify orders?

No, as it relates to child support.  A simple agreement between parents is not enough to establish a new child support order to reflect each parent’s ability to pay; all changes to child support orders must go through the Court.  Child support is set as of the date of the order, based on a backward-look at income and financial resources.  This means that child support can only be modified based on changes to the financial situation that have already occurred, not that will or might occur in the future.

As for other orders relating to children, such as conservatorship, possession and access, and other decisions, the parents can anticipate changes and agree on what to do when those changes happen.  For example, parents can agree what schools they children will attend in the future, and how they are going to handle extracurricular activities in the future.  Parents can also agree as to where the children will live and how their time will be split between the parents in the future.  Perhaps one possession schedule is appropriate while the children are really young, but a different schedule will be implemented when they reach a certain age.

When parents agree on these things and can anticipate changes that may happen in the future, those changes cannot be said to really be material and substantial when they actually do occur.  Therefore that anticipated change should not warrant a modification contrary to the parents’ prior agreement, unless something unanticipated intervened to make the change really important.  Allowing parents to reach agreements about their children and future anticipated issues is consistent with Texas public policy, which is to encourage settlement of disputes between parties.  Those agreements should be upheld to prevent unnecessary judicial resources being spent to re-do what the parties already agreed on.

LIFE-SQUARED™ MEDIATION: A More Well-Rounded Approach to Resolving Your Family Law Issues

LifeSquared™ mediation is Hiller Law’s twist on the conference mediation method, which as we’ve blogged about before, is rarely done in Texas.  Like conference mediation, LifeSquared is highly effective as a form of marriage mediation, and conflict resolution more generally. Why LifeSquared?  Because the goal is to “square” your life with what you need to move forward successfully.  Here, a couple’s initial goal is to look at the possibility of reconciliation.  The idea of LifeSquared is to not only look at what you need to “square” your lives, but to bring in resources to help you achieve those goals.  LifeSquared mediation provides the parties with multiple viewpoints to help work towards a more well-rounded, dynamic agreement. But if the couple decides that their marriage is not working out, then the parties can also “square” their lives by getting a divorce in a non-adversarial manner, out of court.

     Marriage Mediation Scenario. While LifeSquared mediation can provide a more well-rounded solution to a variety of family, personal, financial and legal issues, here we will focus on the marriage mediation aspect. For example, a couple comes in wanting to save their marriage. They have been to marriage counseling, which is successful only about 20% of the time. Life squared mediation allows the parties to negotiate with the mediator’s assistance to create a list of items that together they think will help their marriage: Perhaps the wife has a drinking problem and the husband is unemployed. The parties can’t agree on how to go about resolving these issues. The mediator will suggest solutions to each problem and help the parties create action items they can agree on. In this case, the parties may agree that wife will begin a 12 step program in a residential facility, while the husband will seek the guidance of a career counselor, with a timetable that includes efforts toward finding a job. The issues do not have to be this dramatic – the couple may just have conflicts over spending habits or how to raise their children.

     How Does it Work? The LifeSquared mediator will refer or team up with a mental health professional or financial planner to form solutions for surrounding issues, and implement their plans through the terms of a dynamic mediation agreement.  One unique thing about LifeSquared mediation agreements is that the negotiated solutions can change-while the temporary agreements are written down, they can evolve into an informal “marriage treatment plan” agreement, or a more comprehensive postnuptial agreement. Or it may even evolve into a divorce treatment plan.  Consequently, the parties end up with more well-rounded solutions to their marriage or divorce or family legal issue.  By addressing the underlying issues, couples should achieve more amicable relationships, which should help them and their children, whether they stay married or not.

     Other Advantages. Additionally, LifeSquared mediation provides parties with a venue to deal with the personal side of their divorce while also dealing with the legal and financial sides.  Many times the personal views (emotions) of the parties are what make settling a case so unbelievably difficult.  Unlike the traditional adversarial divorce, LifeSquared mediation will allow the parties to travel through the stages of their challenged marriage at their own pace, and not that of the courts.  Mediation is not couple’s therapy but it does provide each party with a safe place to air out some of the more personal and financial challenges of the marriage, without having to enter a legal battle that usually just takes advantage of the parties’ troubles.

     Ultimately, LifeSquared mediation is just another example of how you have choices when it comes to resolving your own family legal issues.

 

Divorce and Social Media Considerations

If you are contemplating a divorce, you must be extremely cautious with any personal or family social media activity. A survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that from 2009-2012, 59% of its divorce lawyer members had seen an increase in the number of cases involving evidence obtained from dating websites, while 81% had seen an increase in the number of cases involving evidence obtained through social media sites.  Ultimately the trend is quite clear-people are creating dating site profiles and posting on social media more frequently, and this is creating more opportunities for divorce attorneys to use that online evidence against them.

It’s critical for clients to know what they can and cannot do when it comes to social media.  If you are contemplating divorce, you need to know that what you (and your spouse) say and do on social media – post, repost, tweet, like, comment, friend, follow – can be used to help or hurt you in a divorce or custody case.  You don’t know what can hurt you or what your options are before speaking with an experienced divorce attorney, but here are some general guidelines you should probably follow:

  1. Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want a judge or your grandmother to see. If it’s out there, opposing counsel will usually find it. Just don’t say, share or do anything your grandmother wouldn’t be exceedingly proud of. Make sure your kids understand that what they post may have consequences as well.
  2. Live your life as if cameras are constantly following you around and taping what you’re doing at all times. Social media provides a direct window into your private world. Only post positive, truthful thoughts and photos, or unplug completely. Just assume your spouse’s attorney is looking at your social pages and keeping tabs on you.
  3. Watch out for third parties with smartphones. While you may be smart enough not to post inappropriate photos or videos of yourself, you never know when someone else is watching you or videotaping you with a smartphone. Always be on your best behavior in public and private if you’re in the middle of a divorce or custody dispute.
  4. Assume everything you do online will be found. It can be found by opposing counsel, your soon-to-be-ex or their friends and family and will be used against you. This also applies to phone and text records, emails, dating sites and more.
  5. If you’re debating whether or not it’s a good idea to share, comment or like something on social media, just don’t do it. Really, just don’t. Parents also need to be careful that they don’t reveal too many personal details about their children on social sites, because they could put a child at risk for identity theft.
  6. Don’t ever lie. If opposing counsel can prove you lied once (whether it’s pertaining to social media or not), the judge will likely assume everything you say is a lie. He or she can also hold you in contempt or have you prosecuted for perjury. Don’t lie or misrepresent yourself to your divorce lawyer, either. It will be much more difficult to help you win your divorce and/or child custody case if you do.
  7. If you’ve filed for divorce or your spouse has filed, don’t assume you can remove any of your social media history without potential legal consequences. Taking down your account could be considered destruction of evidence in a lawsuit and have serious consequences. While you can’t take down your social pages, you can maximize your security settings, stop posting and ask friends not to post anything about you and or your family.
  8. Don’t think you can fake “nice.” If you stage a photo of you at your kid’s soccer game and a witness testifies that you snapped the photo and left 30 seconds later, your credibility as an involved, attentive parent in a custody or divorce case is sunk.
  9. Don’t underestimate the power of social media evidence in the courtroom. Judges and juries are intrigued by social media evidence and they consider it just as persuasive as other evidence – sometimes more so. A post may be worth a thousand words.
  10. Don’t assume you know what you can and cannot do on social media. Speak with an experienced divorce attorney in Texas or the state where you reside. He or she can counsel you on social media and divorce as it pertains to your specific case.

Love Won…What’s Next? Prenuptial Agreements.

Now that SCOTUS has declared same sex marriage constitutional, gay and lesbian couples throughout the country have the choice to marry, a right which previously may not have been available to them.  This option to marry opens another door, that to prenuptial agreements.  In some situations, same sex couples have even more reason to sign a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot.  Prenups can have a negative connotation, so let’s look at them from a positive, even marriage enhancing viewpoint, including ‘marriage booster’ clauses.

First, because of the only recent legality, many same sex partners are marrying at a later age, and may have amassed a large estate or substantial debt on their own.  Where community property laws will be implicated, such a couple may want to protect their assets or isolate their liabilities from their partner in case of a divorce.

On the other hand, some of these couples are getting married after long-term relationships and want to protect the assets and property that they’ve acquired together prior to getting married.  For example, a couple gets married after a 15 year relationship, during which time they acquired substantial shared assets, and divorces 2 years later. The assets acquired prior to marriage are not community property, so upon a divorce, only those assets acquired within those 2 years are subject to equitable distribution. Such a couple may choose to get a prenuptial agreement, which will allow them to decide how to divide those assets acquired prior to marriage in the case of a divorce.

Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement may be a good choice for other same sex couples as a means for resolving disputes.  A couple can agree that they will first try mediation or arbitration to resolve any family legal issues or a potential divorce.  This agreement could prevent a couple from going head-on into an ugly courtroom battle before at least attempting to negotiate or reconcile through less adversarial means.

Lastly, a prenuptial agreement can help set you up for success with the inclusion of marriage booster clauses.  Clauses may be traditional, where a couple agrees to attend one marriage counseling seminar a year, or get away for two weekends a year by themselves. Marriage booster clauses may also include progressive approaches, with marriage education courses that teach communication and other relationship skills. These are a good choice for couples who waited a long time to marry, who are new to the institution, and will help to give them the best possible chance at a successful marriage.

 

Conference Mediation-A Better Alternative to Traditional Divorce Litigation

Typical Divorce Scenario.

Constant fighting, blaming, poor communication, and distrust during a marriage will most often lead to more of the same behavior once a couple has decided to dissolve it. Unfortunately, the consequences of continuing this behavior throughout the divorce process can be dramatic, including protracted litigation, escalating costs, increased stress and significant damage to the emotional well-being of any children involved. But it does not have to be this way! It’s no longer necessary to follow the traditional path of litigation in order to work out the terms of the divorce. Today many couples are turning to mediation to resolve their disputes and negotiate the terms of their divorce.

What is Mediation?

In general terms, mediation is a voluntary, non-adversarial process involving a trained, impartial third party who facilitates communication between the couple concerning matters in dispute and creatively explores possible solutions to help promote reconciliation, understanding and settlement. “Settlement” is not the only goal of mediation; it is about helping the parties negotiate a workable way of living apart. Mediators help parties understand each other’s’ perspectives and discuss options for settling various issues surrounding the divorce, i.e., child custody arrangements, child support payments, asset distribution, etc. The mediator does not decide who is right or wrong and will not force a couple into making any decisions or accepting a settlement. Instead, the mediator will work with the couple to facilitate open communication and compromise between the parties, so that a couple may ultimately reach an agreement without having to go to court.

Conference Mediation vs. Caucus Mediation.

In conference mediation, the mediator will work with the couple from start to finish to discover all information necessary for resolving their disputes. A conference mediator meets with the parties together in one room, for short, two-hour sessions,as opposed to full or all day sessions. When absolutely necessary, the mediator may meet with either of the parties separately for short discussion. The parties’ lawyers usually are not involved, but both parties can agree to include them, and may confer with their attorney as needed. Generally conference mediation begins with an orientation session, during which the parties will discuss their immediate and most urgent concerns with the mediator. After the initial orientation session, the mediator and the parties will gather and assemble information, prepare inventories, and discuss children’s issues. Next, during the negotiation sessions, most parties will resolve their child custody and property issues. The final step, and ultimate goal here, is agreement creation.

As opposed to conference mediation, caucus mediation is more or less just a settlement conference designed to settle disputes before going to court. It almost always involves the parties in separate rooms, each with their respective lawyer, with the mediator alternating between rooms. Parties usually go to caucus mediation after they’ve assembled all the relevant information with their lawyers and are otherwise ready for court. Here the mediator may help the parties generate different option, but most likely will employ the methods used in court to effectuate a settlement between the parties.

Results of Mediation.

Where the parties are able to reach an agreement through mediation, the mediator will write up the resultant agreement. A key feature of Hiller Law’s conference mediation is creation of an irrevocable agreement that is as close to a decree as possible, leaving little to no work for a lawyer. The parties may then present this agreement to their respective the attorneys for review, sign, and then submit to the court for its approval. The resultant settlement agreements generally work better because the parties worked cooperatively to arrive at the arrangement, as opposed to passively negotiating the terms through attorneys and judges who don’t know the family. Alternatively, if the dispute cannot be settled in mediation or otherwise is necessary, the case may still go onto hearings, trial, or to another settlement process. However, 80% of meditations result in an agreement, even where prior settlement attempts had been unsuccessful, so conference mediation may be one of the better methods for dissolution of your marriage.

Additional Advantages of Mediation.

First off, mediation is usually less costly than a comparable adversarial divorce, and may be reached much faster. In addition to avoiding protracted litigation, mediation actually supports the family structure. It encourages cooperation and trust among the divorcing parties and their children by diminishing the conflict between the spouses during and after meditation. More specifically, mediation enables parents to make decisions based on what’s in the best interest of their children, as well as express their own feelings associated with ending the marriage, thereby benefiting both them and their children. Finally, agreements reached through mediation may provide for “extras” not usually provided by court orders, such as agreements for college tuition and post-high-school support for children.

10 Issues That Will Make Your Divorce More Expensive

  1. Complex or large financial assets – A divorce involving complex, unusual, or large amounts of financial assets typically requires financial experts to value the financial assets and a fair amount of negotiation to reach a settlement over how to divide the assets; may also require tax professionals.
  1. Intense hostility or disagreement over child custody issues – Possible costs associated with an intense battle over the children include: attorney ad litum, guardian ad litum, or amicus attorney appointed on behalf of the children; home studies, therapists, counselors, or other professional services related to well-being of the children; additional attorney’s fees on both sides.
  1. An overly aggressive lawyer – Spending extra money on an “aggressive”, “bulldog” of an attorney to punish your spouse in court is admittedly a tactic that may sometimes work.  However, more frequently it just results in additional discord between the parties that only drives them further apart from reaching a reasonable agreement to end the marriage.
  1. One or both parties insists on being difficult and doing everything the hard way – Unfortunately, a judge cannot require a party to be polite, reasonable, or fair; nor can the judge force a settlement between the parties.  Sometimes people just want to turn the divorce into a fight, or simply refuse to use compromise, but responding with hostility will most likely only aggravate the situation.
  1. Misunderstanding the role of the family court – The court is not there to punish one party or the other, or to declare one party a winner and one a loser, nor is it a place for you to air out your grievances.  The role of the family court is to make difficult decisions about child custody and property division.
  1. Picking fights that are more expensive than the value of the property – While some personal property certainly carries a value that exceeds its market value, such as family heirlooms and photos, sometimes people will fight over some old junk in a box in the garage for the simple fact that it’s an opportunity to bring up an old argument.
  1. Addressing a child with special needs – There may be a need for additional child support to cover medical expenses, educational programs etc. It usually takes a good deal of time to craft a workable plan to make sure the child is cared for, and overcome any resistance by the parent who will have to pay a larger amount of child support.
  1. Refusal to cooperate with mandatory information exchanges – A party’s refusal to comply with discovery requests can delay discovery and may require additional attorney’s fees.   You may also have to hire an investigator or expert if the other party tries to hide something. Additionally, the judge may also consider such conduct when dividing property and allocating parental rights in the divorce.
  1. Believing that drawing out the divorce will lead to fixing the marriage –  In most cases, dragging out the divorce typically means refusing any settlements, which in turn forces the other side to pursue litigation as a way to conclude the divorce, thus costing both sides more money, and more hostility and frustration.
  2. Believing that having your day in court is most important – Many people believe that they should have their day in court to tell their side of the story with hopes that the judge will declare them a better spouse and give them a landslide