Divorce Survival Training: What to Know When Filing for Divorce (Part 2)

By DadsDivorce.com reader Big D

Surviving divorce can be tricky. We offer real-life examples and divorce advice for men and fathers on how to handle your situation.

Note: This is part 2 of a two-part article on what to consider when filing for divorce. Part 1 focused on how to handle marital money, bank accounts and joint credit cards. Click here to read.

Start to Pay Spousal Support ASAP

If you feel that you will be paying spousal support, then start to pay something immediately. I know that sounds absurd, but hear my story.

My lawyer told me to not pay one cent. He said that she should get a job and start to pay her own way. So for more than 6 months I did not pay any spousal support and she did not get a job. Remember, in my case she had not worked in 10 years. So, when the court said my salary and then hers ($0), they penalized me! I had to start paying temporary spousal support, which was MORE than I would have if I would have used ANY calculator. Then, when it came time to finally get divorced, they used the temporary spousal support as the bottom of the pay scale! So, in the end, I had to pay this VERY HIGH support payment for more than a year then that became the standard for my spousal support when I got divorced.

If I would have even paid out $500 a month, that would have shown good faith and I would have gotten a lot better deal and lower payment after the divorce. Something is better than nothing. I suggest that you think hard about what you will pay then pay 25% to 75% of that. Not paying anything will come back to haunt you!

Also, your ex-wife will lie about what she is responsible for paying. Mine lied and said she pays over $500 in child care each month. She pays $0! However, the judge did not require her to prove it, even after we asked for proof! She also claimed to pay over $400 a month in cell phone bills! WOW! Does she have 10 phones?! I pay under $100 and own my own business with a cell phone! I use it for data, texting, and phone.

 

Retaining a Lawyer

Before you retain a lawyer, consider what that will mean to your soon-to-be-ex when you indicate you want to file for a divorce. As soon as she hears that you have a lawyer, she will immediately be on the defensive. I am not suggesting that you don’t talk with a lawyer, but think long and hard about hiring one.

Also, if you hire a lawyer, you will need to use money from your mutual accounts. This will cause a possible issue with your wife, her future lawyer, and the entire process. I know you are thinking, “If I don’t use mutual funds, then what do I use?” That is a great question. I don’t know the answer, but your lawyer that you talk with should have some ideas.

When you tell your wife you are filing for divorce, she will be shocked at first then other emotions will start to flow. For me, it was relief. She was so relieved that we were no longer going to play the charade. She was a different person. Some, on the other hand, will go off the deep end most likely becoming very angry. I highly suggest you discuss options with a lawyer before telling your wife. You should have a plan on where you will stay, where she will stay, what you will do, how you will behave, etc. I suggest NOT moving out of the house immediately; it shows you don’t want to own the house anymore! Let your lawyer help with this though.

When finding a lawyer, you should ask friends and family about whom to use. You should also do research on the Internet, looking for the best lawyer. You should interview them face-to-face even if you have to pay $100 per initial consultation. A bad lawyer will cost you two or three times maybe even 10 times more in overall money compared to a good lawyer. My first lawyer most likely cost me over $100,000 in legal fees, spousal support, and overall cost by the time my divorce was over, even though he was only my lawyer for 4 months!

Remember, your lawyer is NOT YOUR FRIEND! If you hate your lawyer, so what? If the lawyer does the job well that is the goal. Your ex-wife is going to look for a ruthless, aggressive lawyer, so you should as well.

 

Gathering Arsenal

You should start to gather information well before you file for divorce. I suggest six to nine months worth of information. You need to have copies of everything in case you are asked for it. It took me many hours and weekends to gather all the information that was asked of me. Since I was self-employed, it took longer. I had to get bank statements, two years worth of checks (personal and business), account for every item more than $500, etc., for my divorce. Prepare and organize, it will come back to reward you in the end.

You need to gather information about:

  • Credit cards
  • Taxes
  • Medical documents
  • Letters
  • Receipts
  • E-mails that have key information

Also, communicate with your wife via e-mail when possible, to keep a trail of information. The “he said-she said” is not worth anything in family law from my experience. Heck, actual proof does not hold up either in family law. Your lawyer is the best weapon you will have! Proof helps, but even with the best proof a horrible lawyer couldn’t even prove you are a man!

 

Summary

You are going to be on a rough, emotional, frustrating, horrible journey. Be sure you have exhausted all of your options. Staying married is the best option, but after all avenues to stay together have been walked divorce might be the only option. If you choose to divorce, look at it as a business. Keep emotions out of the picture. Do your homework, gather your information, and have a plan of attack.

Every decision you make can come back to harm you, so don’t do or say anything that you would not want the judge to hear in the next six to 24 months. Find a good lawyer! Get your ducks in a row! Expect the worst! Don’t be greedy! Don’t do anything foolish! Don’t say anything stupid! Good luck and I hope your life is better without your current wife.

 

Note: This is part 2 of a two-part article on what to consider when filing for divorce. Part 1 focused on how to handle marital money, bank accounts and joint credit cards. Click here to read.

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