The decision to divorce is not one you make in a vacuum. Most people who make the decision to seek a divorce have some sort of confidant—be it family member or friend—as a sounding board and source of support. It’s when that support turns into advice, particularly if that friend or family member has gone through a divorce, that things can get dicey.
Why? For starters, no two divorces are the same.
Let me repeat that. No two divorces are the same.
So when you have a friend or loved one who starts a sentence with“I went through this in my divorce” you have to take it with a grain of salt. Even in a scenario where you have two couples who make the exact same amount of money, live in a house with the same approximate value, have the same net worth and even the same number of kids and pets, the two divorces will be different.
People are individuals and will view things differently than you do. For example, your divorced friend/family member may have cherished his/her house and felt very strongly about not uprooting the kids. You may feel taking care of the house by yourself to be more than you can manage and are open to a scenario where your spouse gets the house.
Of course, much of the advice you receive from divorce family or friends will center on the outcome of their divorce and regrets they have:
“We alternate years with the kids on (this holiday), I wish we had done ___.”
“We sold the house. I wish I had held onto it.”
“Don’t let him/her short change you on ____.”
You get the idea. And as supportive as these friends and family members are trying to be—they genuinely don’t want what happened to them to happen to you—they are truly doing you a disservice and, frankly, interfering with the negotiation of a settlement by filling your head with their issues instead of focusing on your own.
Divorce is not pleasant but it does force you to decide what is important to you so that you can proceed to negotiate. The process makes you do something that many people don’t do often enough—look into the future to try and really see the life you imagine. As much as you may have in common with the divorced friend/family member, it’s probably a safe assumption that you have a different vision of your life.
Of course, you may have some of the same concerns brought up by your support circle. That’s fine. If it concerns you, run it by your attorney. Once you have the information from the professional who does this day and day out, you might have a different perspective on the issue.
In some cases, the friend/family member acts as more of a decision-maker (e.g. a parent). It’s not an ideal scenario for a divorce negotiation but if one of the divorcing spouses bases his/her decisions on what the decision-maker thinks, it’s not unheard of to have that person meet with his or her child’s attorney. Professionally speaking it’s one thing to give the decision maker some time to voice his or her concerns but the client will have to make and live with any decision reached.
Your support circle does play an important part in your decision to divorce and the aftermath in putting the pieces back together. The attorney you choose is the bridge from the initial decision to your life afterwards. That’s why finding an attorney who has strong credentials and you are comfortable with is paramount.
Your attorney should be part of your support circle along with your family and friends. This provides you with not only somebody who has your best interest at heart, but someone with the experience and capabilities to ensure your best interests are met.