Marriage is about love.
Divorce is about money.
(And pain, loss, anger, and regret.)
You’ve probably already GoogledTM “What Not to Do When You Divorce.” So, let’s not belabor that point.
Everyone makes mistakes. You. Your ex. Your in-laws. Your friends. The divorce attorney who failed you. Regardless of what has brought you to this place – the end of your marriage – my goal is to help you get through the process of legally dissolving your marriage in as straightforward a manner as possible.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be moments of great pain and anger. That’s inevitable. As any marriage counselor will tell you – the end of a marriage is akin to a death in the family. You married for love. You married for children. You thought it would last forever. And then, it didn’t. You have to mourn. There are no shortcuts to that process.
So now what? This is your opportunity to take control of your situation – one step at a time.
1. Engage the right attorney. Then, let them guide you through the process.
If you are like many of my clients, this may be your first exposure to the legal separation process. Or not. Divorce never gets easier, no matter how frequent. Accept that you are angry, frustrated, and in disbelief at the predicament you now find yourself in. You are outraged that your husband/wife has taken advantage of you, that your previous lawyer failed you, and that all of your good faith intentions, including putting a roof over the heads of your children and the children from your spouse’s previous marriage, have come to naught. Then take a breath and hire an attorney to represent your interests.
2. Divorce is a business negotiation, not a fistfight.
Divorce is about the law. In New York State, the aim of the law is the dissolution of the marriage, maintenance of any minor children, and the equitable distribution of assets. There are specific legal requirements, protocols, and processes to follow. Your attorney will guide you. Even when feelings run high between you, your ex, and even your children, divorce in New York is a dispassionate process designed to resolve a highly emotional issue.
What if you never want to see your ex?
You may be surprised by how rarely you will ever be in the same room, let alone have to see your ex during your divorce proceedings. Even more so since the pandemic.
You and your attorney may even meet via Skype, Zoom, or other conference technology. Today, many of the decisions regarding “who gets what” can be negotiated remotely or through your attorneys.
3. Divorce is full of paperwork.
Divorce is not about punishing your ex. That ship has sailed. Divorce is about documenting the past – mostly your financial history – to pave the way to an equitable settlement.
There will be paperwork – much of it mundane – like collecting bank, investment, and credit card statements; tax returns; loan documents; retirement accounts. You will be asked to determine your cost of living, and if you have children, the costs to maintain them – including food, clothes, school, extracurricular activities, medical, and so on. If you are working, you may have to furnish pay stubs. If you are not working outside the home now but will be doing so after the divorce, include potential expenses like childcare for your minor children.
4. Divorce is about taxes.
The division of assets, the sale of property or investments, the separation of retirement funds, spousal support – all can trigger a taxable event. Ask your attorney for guidance when you need informed counsel. They may also recommend engaging a divorce financial planner, a tax planner or accountant to discuss potential tax implications that may arise from the sale of the family house, division of retirement plans, spousal maintenance, and if it appears your ex may be hiding assets, a forensic accountant.
5. Divorce is about the children.
There are very clear rules when you divorce and there are minor children. The first is that when you divorce, you do not get to make the rules. The law has specific formulas that determine what you must pay in terms of child support. It will also set parameters for custodial arrangements. In all things related to your children, the court will be guided only by what it and the law deems is in the best interest of the child.
Is your divorce unique?
Yes, every divorce is different. Your particular situation, your marriage, how you feel, the issues you face, whether or not to litigate, etc., are all unique to you. If you have questions about how best to navigate your options, let's talk. I'm Dan Stock, and you can call me at 475-232-4105 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a consultation.