Most important, 3) you have to hire the right lawyer. There is no justice, and certainly no “win” possible in a divorce (or in any other matter) if you cannot afford the best gladiator. Avoid friends or especially relatives who do not specialize in divorce. They may mean well but they may also ruin your case. Interview at least five of the best lawyers — even if you do not intend to hire any of them. Once they have seen you, they are prohibited from taking your spouse’s case. But you must really interview the lawyer you choose. He or she is your employee. Remember: Your lawyer is not your therapist. Don’t waste time telling them your problems. They bill for their time. Focus only on your case. Your lawyer’s office is not a confessional booth. The more work you can do on your own, as guided by your lawyer, the less it will cost you.
But you must understand: You have to pay to play. While getting a divorce is not exactly like trying to win the lottery, there is still no guarantee that you will get what you deserve or even what the law will allow. But there is one more thing you must do in order to “win.”
4) You must understand the law and the legal process before you even walk into a lawyer’s office. You want to know the laws of your state. Become familiar with what’s routinely done so that you do not request the impossible. Do not waste your lawyer’s time with trying to get what you may deserve but which the law does not provide. Understand that there is nothing instant about the legal system. Resolutions take many years. And, while the justice will be imperfect, this does not necessarily mean that the judges or lawyers are incompetent or corrupt. It means that the system is understaffed, overworked, and underfunded. Of course, judges, lawyers, and court mental health professionals all have biases. A lawyer who knows what they are will know how to present your case in a way that “plays” to their biases and does not set off any alarm bells.
Finally, 5) pray you get the right judge.
Sometimes, staying married is easier than getting a divorce. Some people draw that conclusion and remain together, not necessarily for the sake of the children, or for religious reasons, but in order to avoid the enormous pain, cost, and disruption that a divorce causes.
But, when divorce is necessary, consider these five essential steps.
Check out some of Phyllis Chesler’s previous PJ Mama Hawk articles: