It’s not unusual for men to worry that divorce -by design- will advantage the female partner. This doesn’t have to be the case. A balanced divorce settlement is possible for both parties.
Below are some must-know tips for men in all stages of divorce:
1) Don’t let emotion or anger influence your actions. Keep moods in check, and stick with your daily routine. Continue going to work, resist packing up and moving for a “fresh start,” and avoid big purchases (or sales). In fact, don’t take any major actions before consulting with an experienced divorce and family law attorney.
2) Don’t leave the house. Cohabitation can get uncomfortable, but leaving the marital home can have serious consequences. In some custody disputes, the spouse who voluntarily moved out can be accused of “abandoning the family.” Staying in the home will demonstrate to the courts that parenting is your top priority.
3) Keep spending time with your children. In the event of a custody dispute, you will need a demonstrated record of being a committed and loving parent who spends quality time with the kids. Start keeping a written record of time spent with the children: where you go, what you did, how long it took, etc.
4) Hire an attorney focused exclusively on divorce and family law. Don’t settle for a general practice lawyer who casually takes on divorce cases. Family law is a complex legal expertise that is constantly evolving. You’re going to need a specialist.
Established divorce practices have relationships with family court judges, and access to a network of key professionals, including: financial planners, private investigators, forensic accountants, mental health counselors, process servers and more.
(See more tips on how to select a divorce lawyer in New Jersey here.)
5) Talk to a therapist. Divorce is an emotional trauma. A skilled therapist can provide you with coping mechanisms, unbiased perspective, and save you (many) billable hours of sorting through feelings in your lawyer’s office. Often overlooked and underestimated, therapy can be a major asset to your divorce strategy.
6) Modify your financial budget during and after divorce. Ending a marriage costs money. Between legal fees, changes in living arrangements, and custody/spousal support arrangements, there will be many new expenses coming your way. An established divorce lawyer can recommend a certified financial planner (CFP) to help you develop a short and long-term financial plan.
7) Think before you post. Anything you put in writing can be used against you in court. An email, a text, a social media post… anything. If a communication is perceived as a threat, you could be removed from the house. If you’re constantly posting party photos on Facebook, it could affect your custody arrangement. Rule of thumb: If you don’t want to explain it to the judge (or your children someday), play it safe and keep it to yourself.
8) Take care of yourself. It seems obvious, but the divorce process can knock you out of a routine. Make a point of eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and going to the gym. Exercise is a great way to manage stress and keep self-esteem high. The better you feel, the stronger you will be for yourself and your children.
9) Keep a journal. Facts are always more valuable than opinions. The challenge is, you won’t know what kinds of facts you’ll need, until you need them. Keep a detailed record of conversations with your spouse, what was agreed to (or not), and notable events.