There are many ways to get divorced. You and your soon-to-be ex can sit in a room together, split everything up, sign a piece of paper, file it with a judge and get divorced for a small fee. Not likely to happen, but it's been done. You and your soon-to-be ex can also meet with your attorneys and come to an agreement that way. Other divorce processes include collaborative divorce and or mediation. Then there's the traditional route: divorce litigation.
Divorce litigation is something I am very familiar with. Unfortunately.
Here are some things that might help prepare you when it comes to litigation.
1. Litigation takes time: If you want a quick solution and you want to "be done" with your divorce, this is not the way to go. Litigation takes months, even years, often times with frustrating results and every time with high lawyer fees.
Attorney bills come in the mail and it's upsetting because you think, "I'm no further along than I was a year ago." The worst part is, there is so much anger between you and your ex, that the kids ultimately feel it, and that's so much worse than the lawyer fees.
2. Litigation can make you want to crawl into bed for a year: Divorce litigation can be exhausting, and can take so much out of a person. There were times when I felt so depressed, I could barely get out of bed. Here's my stance on pity parties. If something happens in court, perhaps you get an unfavorable ruling, or you get a high lawyer bill in the mail, or tensions with your ex are at an all time high, you are allowed to engage in a self-pity party for 12 hours. After that, it's time to regroup, and keep living your life.
3. Litigation creates bullies: "You're going to lose." "The judge is going to side with me for sure. You know that, right?" "You better settle because you're going to be really sorry when we go to court." "You don't have a case." "This is a no-brainer. I'm winning." These are statements that ex might say during the divorce process. Clearly, these are things a bully would say. Do not listen to them. Let them roll off of you. Pretend you didn't hear them. They will only cause you to be upset. Instead, listen to your attorney, and to your gut.
4. Litigation will make you realize "Life aint fair." I have a huge problem with how the legal system works when it comes to divorce. I think there are so many cases out there, that judges are too busy and overwhelmed to really hear the cases, and they have a hard time managing all the cases. So, things get pushed back and pushed back and pushed back, costing more and more and more money. So, say to yourself, "life aint fair," and either take steps to end the litigation, i.e. work it out with your ex or try to settle through mediation, or accept and control the things in your life that you can control.
5. Litigation might cause you to suck up your pride:Which could be a good thing! If you think you can call your ex and settle things yourself, do it!! Who cares about your pride and anger and the past? Be smart. I have a friend who spent $150,000 on attorneys. One night, she called her ex and said, "Let's just settle this ourselves." They came to an agreement via phone. They had their lawyers draw up the order, they went into court and it was done. She said it was so difficult and she was gritting her teeth the whole time. But, it worked.
6. Trust your gut: This statement is regarding both litigation and your attorneys. If you don't feel that litigation is working, take steps to change the process. It's never too late to try to settle. People think it is, because they feel like they are in so deep. But as deep as you are, settling is always an option. You can always get out of it. It's somewhat in your control.
There are certain cases where there's just no reasoning with one or both of the people, and it's a lost cause. But, if your gut is telling you that litigation isn't the way to go, then tell you attorney, or call your ex.
Regarding attorneys, I have been so angry with mine at times, I feel like banging my head against the wall. But I always come to realize that it's not their fault. They are doing their jobs. They are on your side. Period. Then again, they are being paid by the hour, so they really have no real incentive to settle your case-and I'm not trying to slam any attorneys by saying that. It's just a fact and another reason I think the system is terrible. Lastly, if you don't think you have the right person representing you, don't be afraid to make a change. People do it all the time. You wouldn't be the first.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling . She is also the author of the comedic novel, Free Gift With Purchaseabout life after divorce. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter for the Pioneer Press, with the monthly column, "Heart of the North Shore." She lives in Chicago with her two kids. And she's divorced (obviously.)