A divorce is one of the toughest, most stressful events that people go through during their lives. Everything in your world seems to be in upheaval. One of the hardest adjustments can be shifting from treating a spouse as your life partner and most trusted confidante to an adversary, or in the best cases, a person on the opposite side of the negotiating table.
My clients may have previously consulted their spouses and sought their guidance when making major decisions. This person may have been their sounding board for many years of their life. One thing I have to impress upon them early on is that in divorce, they are no longer on the same side.
For me to get the best possible outcome for their future happiness and well being, this is what I want them to discuss with their spouse concerning the divorce negotiations: nothing. Do not talk to your spouse about anything having to do with the case.
This means you don’t mention that you’d really like to keep the dining room table your grandmother gave you. You don’t talk about how the country club membership is more important to you because you go there every day. Do not bring up the fact that you’d really like the children to be with you for every family reunion so they can see their cousins every year.
You also don’t mention that bonus you got at work, or the raise you are expecting next month. Keep it to yourself if your investments are doing particularly well this quarter.
Don’t talk about your plans for when you are single, where you are going to live or that fabulous vacation you are planning. Don’t mention your spouse’s conduct. Even if you’ve discovered she lied to you last month about her sister being sick and needing to visit her and instead went away for the weekend with her boyfriend, keep it to yourself.
The more amicable your situation, the tougher it can be to follow this advice. You may still consider your future ex-spouse to be your friend. That’s okay – but be friends after the divorce is over.
Ninety-nine percent of divorce cases are settled. And they are settled not because of what people do know about the other side’s position, but because of what people don’t know. It’s the fear of the unknown that brings people to the negotiating table.
It all comes down to this: if the other side knows what is most important to you, you’re not going to get your best deal. So keep all of the details of your life and what you’d like to receive in the divorce to yourself. Trust only your lawyer with this information.