Unfortunately, more than 40% of marriages in the U.S. will end in divorce. Divorce can be financially and emotionally devastating and especially stressful for children involved. If you are faced with the prospect of divorce, it is in your family’s best interest to approach it from an amicable perspective. As many divorced couples understand, it is possible to have a healthy breakup and start a new life.
Do be respectful and maintain a cordial relationship with your spouse. Try to keep the lines of communication open. Be reasonable about expectations, and cooperate with your spouse to achieve the best results for your family.
Do put your kids first, and ensure they know they are not the cause of the divorce. Make sure you and your spouse send a consistent and coordinated message to your children.
Do get professional counseling if needed, for yourself and your children.
Do document everything. Understand your assets and liabilities. Get appraisals, and make copies of important documents.
Don’t draw your children into your arguments, and never question them about your spouse’s activities. Always be respectful of your spouse in front of the children, and remember the Golden Rule: if you do not have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Kids do better when they maintain close relationships with both parents.
Don’t violate custody or visitation agreements, including the Automatic Orders that attach to every divorce. These Automatic Orders include not taking the child(ren) out of state without written permission or consent from the other party, maintaining an open line of communication between the child(ren) and the non-custodial parent, maintaining the child(ren) on any existing medical coverage, and completion of the Parenting Education Program for the benefit of the child(ren).
Don’t attempt to shield property or assets from your spouse. All items of value must be disclosed. Your credibility is your most important attribute, which cannot be restored should untruthfulness be exposed during the divorce process.
Do hire an experienced attorney. Beware of online divorce websites, which promote do-it-yourself divorce as a cheap and easy alternative to working with an attorney. While the Internet can be a good resource for information, you can also receive bad advice online. There are many nuances in divorce and custody cases that make “cookie cutter” divorce kits inappropriate. It’s very important to protect your interests by hiring a knowledgeable attorney, because there are numerous things that you cannot be changed after final judgment.
Do explore your options regarding alternative dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. In addition to facing the emotional trauma of separating a family unit, the process of dividing years of accumulated assets can be complicated and overwhelming. Divorce through the Connecticut State Court can take months, or even years, of time consuming and expensive Court appearances. The process of mediation is an attempt to resolve disputes outside of Court with the help of a neutral third party who can achieve a common ground and a mutually agreeable resolution. If the parties are unable to reach consensus, arbitration allows the parties to efficiently present their respective positions to an impartial, neutral third party decision-maker, similar to a trial judge, called an Arbitrator. Through arbitration couples have much more control over scheduling and privacy. Both spouses and their attorneys agree on the Arbitrator, hearing time, and location. They also approve the rules and procedures ahead of time. The Arbitrator’s decision is binding, so appeals rarely become an issue in the future. The proceedings can be completely confidential and only the final decision will be approved and filed with the court.
Attorney Robert G. Tukey is the Managing Director at Suisman Shapiro. His practice concentrates in family law. Please contact him via email at [email protected] or via phone at (860)442-4416 with questions regarding divorce and custody matters.