Sunday, September 1, 2013

Just the Facts: Starting Without Assumptions

It is probably human nature to face the unknown by making assumptions.  That can help a person prepare for new circumstances, decisions and consequences.  Sometimes the assumptions are helpful and sometimes they are detrimental.  Either way, making assumptions is an easy way to approach a new situation.

There are three areas where assumptions are commonly made when someone is facing a divorce.  Problems may result unless you withhold judgment and focus on facts.  Here are some examples.

  • Assumptions about the legal process.  Unless someone has recent, extensive experience in the legal system, there are usually a lot of mistaken ideas about how the legal process works.  That is especially true of the relatively new process of Collaborative Law.  Rather than listening to your friends, family and friends of friends, it is better to go see a Family Law attorney who has been trained in Collaborative Law.  Don't get an explanation of the process from someone who is not qualified to tell you about it.  A good Collaborative Lawyer will tell you how Collaborative could work in your case and how mediation or litigation might play out.
  • Assumptions about how your spouse will act.  While you need to be prepared for the worst, don't assume it will happen.  Likewise, don't assume everything will go absolutely smoothly.  Spend some time with your lawyer and maybe a counselor to try to figure out how to best deal with your spouse.  You might be pleasantly surprised by how your spouse reacts to a "nice" approach.
  • Assumptions about whether you will be satisfied with a particular approach.  Again, talk with a professional to find out your options and how they might affect you.  If you think you need a "pit bull" representing you, you should consider the increased cost and the damage to family relationships that usually result from that approach. If you don't think you should negotiate, consider the consequences of that course of action.  Talk with an experienced attorney who can tell you how such actions will impact you and your pocketbook.
The bottom line is that you are better off getting the facts from an experienced and well-trained attorney who can help you decide your best course of action.