It’s common to feel afraid to get a divorce when there is so much information out there that is, well, just plain scary. It’s like getting to the edge of a cliff and being afraid to jump off. Fortunately, most, if not all of this “information” is simply not true. You might call it pure myth.
Some of the most common myths I’ve heard include:
- I will have to get a second job just to pay alimony.
- A judge will force me to go back to work.
- I will never see my kids.
- I’m being “selfish” by not thinking about what divorce will do to my children.
- I will lose all rights to my home if I move out.
- If I hire a lawyer, my spouse will think that I want to “fight” and it will cost money that I don’t have.
What you might not know is that there are a number of things you can do to gain a greater sense of control over how your issues will be resolved.
First and foremost, hire a good lawyer that concentrates in divorce and family law. In my opinion, hiring the right attorney is one of the most important decisions you can make when starting the divorce process. It is an investment that will pay off for you in droves.
For example, a skilled attorney can develop a rapport with your spouse’s lawyer and work with him or her to gather the information you need to negotiate a satisfactory parenting and financial settlement – which means that you could avoid the court making the decisions that matter most to you. In addition to having greater predictability and control, you can save the time and expense, both financially and emotionally, of being dragged through lengthy and acrimonious litigation.
Second, invest the time to consult with a reputable accountant, certified financial planner, and perhaps a family counselor for any custody or parenting time issues. These professionals can give you a broader range of options to work with in terms of establishing a mutually agreeable parenting time schedule; how much alimony you can afford to pay and how to best leverage the tax benefits; or how you might maximize short term cash flow or save for retirement. The benefits are immeasurable. Then have your attorney work with these other professionals to strategize the best options for you in settling your issues with your spouse. The more options you see becoming available for you, the more confident and less afraid you will be.
Where do these myths come from anyway? Many tell me that they hear them from so-called well meaning family, friends, colleagues, friends of friends, neighbors, and so on. Ironically, you will find that the individuals who are spreading these myths have never even been divorced!
In short, it’s best to avoid buying into the toxic myths circulating out there. In fact, don’t even listen. Instead, associate with friends and family who support you in your transition through the divorce process. These individuals can help you recognize that your situation is unique and that the decisions you make in resolving the issues in your divorce are yours alone.