Most of us have heard about or personally witnessed other people (neighbors, family members, friends etc.) going through the divorce process. Whether those observations or reports were positive, negative or somewhere in between, each person’s situation is unique.

There are some basic common elements to all divorces. Everybody gets a piece of paper from the court saying they are no longer legally married. Everybody must divide their assets and liabilities in some manner. Everybody must resolve how each spouse will meet their expenses and whether any support (child support, spousal support, alimony) will be paid. If they have children, parties must make appropriate parenting arrangements (custody).

Beyond those common elements, the specifics of how a divorce proceeds and ultimately is resolved are unique for each individual. You should not listen to tales of other divorces and assume that those stories will apply to your situation. Most clients come to me with some preconceived notions about how the divorce process works based on information from friends, family and coworkers. Most of those preconceived notions are partially or entirely incorrect and part of my job is to educate my clients about the realities of the divorce process.

It is extremely important that individuals not make any decisions about a divorce or ending a long-term relationship before getting competent legal advice. The time and expense paid for an initial consultation with an attorney (preferably me) is well worth the value of making informed decisions about whether to proceed with a divorce and if so, how best to do so. The stories we hear about divorces are usually not the whole story. The divorce process can be very fact-specific and is unique for every individual. The divorce process can also be influenced greatly by how individuals choose to go through it. The experience of an individual using an alternative dispute resolution method such as the collaborative process or mediation will be much different than the experience of an individual using litigation (the court process).

Don’t assume that the stories you hear from others about their divorce experiences will necessarily apply to you. If you would like to discuss this topic or any other family law related issue, please feel free to contact me.