When people come in for divorce, they often have their own ideas about what it is, how it will play out, and what the financial settlement will be. That is why it is so important to set realistic expectations for both parties. Whether it be a mediated or litigated divorce, here are some tips on how you can avoid serious disappointment - simply by managing your expectations.
Results are not always predictable: This is especially true of litigation. Though the courts follow the letter of the law, each judge views the information differently. In litigation, you can expect your lawyer to talk to your spouse’s lawyer, but not talk to you.
Safe Zone: You can expect your mediation venue to be completely confidential. Meetings are not transcribed, recorded or in the public record, like in court. Issues such as an imbalance of power can be identified and worked around.
Beware the over-promiser: Some attorneys and mediators seek to boost your expectations in order to paint a rosier picture. If you find yourself in a room with a divorce professional who is telling you that you will get everything you want, consider it a red flag.
Child Custody: Many people go into their child custody hearings expecting a Kramer vs. Kramer type battle, but this is the one area where you should have high hopes. Over the years I have seen many parenting plans work for families, including things like letting the kids stay in the same home while mom and dad rotate in on specific days, as one example. This is called nesting, and while it is not a typical arrangement, it is a viable option for parents that can work together as a TEAM.
The Financials: Things change in divorce, but the family income generally stays the same. This may put a damper on post-divorce expectations as 2 households will need to be funded instead of 1. That may lead to a stay-at-home parent reentering the workforce - and if he or she has not been working for several years, technology has likely advanced to such a degree that finding a job will be more difficult.
Many of the misconceptions about divorce come from the “greek chorus” - friends, family and coworkers who have been divorced and think they can help you. Don’t listen to everything they say. Set realistic expectations, and speak with a good, reputable family lawyer and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, or other financial professional.
What are you expecting? What are your hopes?