Let me introduce myself. I am Henry Gornbein, an attorney who has specialized in family law for over 40 years. I have seen the trauma that women go through both before, during, and after a divorce, especially if they are not properly prepared. The purpose of this article is to provide food for thought and ideas for any woman who is contemplating a divorce in the coming months. Bear in mind that divorce is one of the most traumatic events that anyone can go through in a lifetime. Psychologists have said that the worst tragedy is the loss of a child. The second is the loss of a spouse through death in an in tact marriage, and third is a divorce. Think of these ten steps very carefully before you proceed with any legal action. For more information, please see my website, familylawofmichigan.com, or check on one of the podcasts that I have done on divorcesourceradio.com.
TEN STEPS FOR A WOMAN TO CONSIDER BEFORE FILING FOR DIVORCE IN 2010
10. Have you tried marriage counseling? If not, do so. There are three reasons to go intoÂ counseling. The first reason is to see if your marriage can be saved. The second reason is to build a support system for yourself. The third reason is to make sure you know everything you can about yourself, so that you will not make the same mistake and marry the same type of person again and again. Filing for divorce should be a last step, rather than a first step. During my career, I have represented two women who were each 36 years of age and each was on their sixth divorce.
9. Find out as much as you can about your family finances. Obtain copies of tax returns, investment accounts, bank statements, including your checking and savings accounts. Credit card statements are important. Remember that the more you know about all of the family finances, the better off you are if you decide to go through a divorce. If your husband has a cash business, can you track the cash? Is there a safe? If so, photograph and document the contents, including cash.
8. If you have children, consider what arrangement makes the most sense with regard to custody. Is this a case where there should be shared or joint custody? Keep track of how much time you spend with your children, and how much time your husband spends with the children. These are important things to think about before deciding whether or not to file for divorce. Consider seriously what would be best for your children. Do not use your children as a weapon to try to punish your spouse.
7. Prepare a budget. Look into your finances. What will you need to survive? Are you in the job market or working? If not, look into whether or not you should be going back to school or brushing up on certain skills just in case you need to be employed in the future. These are important considerations before you embark on a divorce.
6. Talk to an attorney. Make sure the attorney is someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in family law. Make sure this is a person you can relate to, and feel comfortable with. There are a lot of good attorneys. It is important to make sure that you have the right fit. Explore the costs of a divorce with the attorney.
5. Think about what you want to do about the home. Will you want to keep it? Have your spouse keep it? Or perhaps, sell it? Remember, in these tough economic times, in more and more cases, we are dealing not with who divides the assets, but how are the debts allocated. These are important things to think about.
4. Keep a diary. Keep track of events involving your husband. Record issues involving your children. If there are any incidents, record them. Keep this in a safe place so that you will have at your fingertips information that you may need as you go through the divorceÂ process. Keep track of photos, emails, text messages and other forms of electronic communication.
3. Come up with a plan for your future. Where do you want to be in one year, five years, ten years. Remember, a divorce is a major step and transition in your life.
2. Build a support system. Consider who among your family and friends you can trust, because it is important to have a support system as you go through divorce. Bear in mind, when you build this support system, that everyone is going to tell you something different. It is important to have the presence of mind to make your own decisions, but they should be informed decisions.
1. Finally, carefully evaluate your situation. Are you sure divorce is the answer? Are youÂ sure the timing is right? Think about all the other issues that I have raised, and make sureÂ that the decision you make is not just a knee-jerk reaction, but is carefully thought out. If you have been unhappy for a number of years, then analyze what makes the most sense. If it is because you are involved in another relationship, or thinking about another relationship, be very, very careful. Too many people leave one bad marriage for a bad relationship, and end up going through more than one divorce. Be true to yourself.
HENRY S. GORNBEIN
Attorney at Law
40900 Woodward Avenue, Ste. 111
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48304-5116