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Five Ways to Make Your Divorce Easier

Divorce Easier

Divorce presents one of the most stressful situations that we endure and some attorneys will promise to make it easy.

The truth is that even the best attorney has limited ability to do that.

You, on the other hand, have the power to significantly improve your opportunities for a divorce that is easier on you and your children, shorter in duration and less expensive.


1. Parent first; litigate second.
There are two components to custody agreements: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody refers to making major decisions about a child’s medical care, education, religious upbringing and any other issue that parents specifically designate as having such significance that either one parent makes the decision, or they somehow make the decision jointly. If both parents have the ability to participate constructively in such decisions, authority to make those decisions is usually shared or divided between them.

Physical custody concerns the child’s schedule with each parent, including weekly parenting time, holidays and vacations.

Keep control of the outcome of your custody arrangement by committing yourself to reaching an agreement instead of asking any Judge to make the decision for you. Variations on custody arrangements are innumerable, and best decided by the parents themselves without abdicating that authority to any court. Even the most experienced and well-intentioned Judge will lack the level of detailed knowledge about your child that you have. Your understanding of your child’s needs enables you to create a better solution than any stranger can, even if you have to compromise with your co-parent to get there.

Similarly, when consulting with your attorney, keep control of that conversation and prioritize your child’s needs over any litigation strategy. Identify your convictions about what parenting arrangement will promote your child’s best interests. Then, ask your attorney to strategize around those needs; never blindly follow a litigation strategy instead of your knowledge of what is best for your child.

2. Declare your priorities.
If you don’t ask for what you want, you can’t expect to get it as part of a divorce settlement or from any court.

Start with a wide view of the issues that need to be resolved in your case: custody and parenting time, division of property, division of debts, protecting assets that are not marital, spousal support, child support, funding the litigation.

Literally make a list, a chart or an outline of your priorities. Then, talk to your attorney about the way that each issue could potentially be resolved and be sure to understand the best case and the worst case scenarios. Listen carefully for the bad news because that is the hardest to absorb and yet necessary to enable you to make an informed decision about how you want to resolve your case. Be bold and honest with yourself. If staying in your home is more important to you now than getting half of a retirement account, consider why you feel that way and whether it is a smart decision for you and your future. If keeping the family holiday decorations will help make your next house into a home, acknowledge that personal need and put it on your list.

Skipping this assessment and running straight into settlement discussions, directly with your spouse, with a mediator or with attorneys, may be tempting but resist that urge. You cannot expect to get a satisfactory result if you do not know what result might satisfy you. Educate yourself first, then the next parts of the process will be much easier.

3. Say “Yes”.
Avoid the natural tendency to reject any proposal from your spouse simply for the sake of saying “no.” Not everything your spouse wants is unreasonable or unrealistic. In any negotiation, finding a way to acknowledge the validity of the other party’s goals and essential components of a settlement will facilitate the process. Bundling his/her request with a request of your own can be very effective. Saying “yes, if…” Will create a smoother path than saying “Not unless…” Your spouse may not be transparent about his/her motivations. Consider what you know about him/her and if it will help you make a decision, invite an explanation or more information about why any request is presented in any particular way.

4. Plan to settle.
Going to court on any issue or the entirety of your divorce is the least desirable alternative for any family. A realistic attorney weighs all options against the likelihood of better results in court and you should seek, and be receptive to, a candid assessment of your choices. If you find yourself jammed in litigation, you need to understand why and what your attorney perceives as the impediments to settlement. A good settlement is an achievement, not mutual surrender. Plan for that accomplishment by compiling the documents and records that you need in order to convince your spouse that your points are valid, supported by the facts and supported by the law as your attorney explains it to you.

5. Don’t Do it Alone.
Remember the name of this website and know that there is a better way to divorce than by making decisions in the dark. Be smart and confident enough to know when you need professional help to make a decision. Consider how you might be assisted by a therapist, a parenting coach, a financial planner, a tax advisor, an appraiser, a career counselor, a business coach. The possibilities are endless and depend upon your particular circumstances. Consulting with a professional about a particular aspect of your life differs from trying to sift through well-intentioned advice from friends and family, whose perspective may be skewed by emotional attachment to you. Take support from those who love you; get more specialized advice when you need it.

Amanda S. Trigg is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Attorney. She practices exclusively family law at Lesnevich & Marzano-Lesnevich, LLC in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Get more information about Amanda, divorce and family law at or

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