Your Divorce: Help Me Help You

Family law litigation can be frustrating because many aspects of your case are outside your control. You cannot control your spouse or their tactics; you cannot control which judge will be assigned to hear your case; you cannot even control how long your case will last. There are, however, several things you can control in order to increase the chance of a favorable outcome:

Don’t be shy: If there has been infidelity, alcohol or drug abuse, if you have gambled and lost thousands of dollars, if you gave your spouse an STD or have a criminal past – please tell your attorney! Divorce attorneys are not a group of people who are easily shocked. They have heard worse. They will not judge you. But they cannot represent you as capably as they otherwise might if they are surprised by this information in a deposition or worse, at trial.
Be proactive: If you can provide your attorney with your 401(k) and IRA statements, your income tax returns, your checking account statements and your pay stubs, you will save yourself and your attorney time (which saves you money). If these items are not accessible to you, your attorney can obtain them for you. But any documents you can provide your attorney that relate to your finances, ownership or value of your assets will help immeasurably.
Step away from the computer: Do not send your former spouse emails so vitriolic that they virtually burn through the monitor. Do not post Facebook pictures (or allow your friends to tag you in pictures) where you are visibly intoxicated or are less than fully clothed. Do not tweet your hatred for your soon-to-be former spouse to your 2,000 followers; for that matter, don’t tweet anything you wouldn’t want to be repeated in court. Litigation can be very upsetting, but it is far better to direct your anger at a punching bag than at your spouse on the Internet. The momentary satisfaction you might receive will not be worth the unflattering self-portrait you are showing the judge, especially if custody is at issue.
Zip it: Edit what you say to your kids, your mutual friends and your soon-to-be former in-laws. Keep your spouse’s unpleasant behavior during the marriage to yourself. Any bad-mouthing or gossiping by you can only cause the judge to believe that you may be incapable of coparenting with your spouse.
Listen up: Finally, please listen to the attorney you have engaged. You chose your attorney because you were convinced of their expertise, reputation and trial ability. Be confident that your attorney has your best interests in mind and is doing the best job for you that he or she can. All you need to do is help.