California divorce attorney, Stacy Phillips, shares in this exclusive interview with you on subjects like divorce mistakes, causes of divorce, children and divorce, finding the best attorney, fast divorce, and how to get a divorce without going to court.
Here are the 14 divorce tips from Stacy Phillips:
1. What are the top three biggest divorce mistakes most people make and how to avoid them?
• They don’t plan ahead financially.
• They don’t take the time to “shop” for the lawyer that is right for them, thus they can often go through two or three before they find the suitable match (costing them thousands of unnecessary dollars).
• They let their emotions overtake their business sense.
2. How to hire a divorce lawyer that suits my needs and budget?
Make sure you find an attorney that meets your requirements, i.e., one you can afford, but more importantly the “type” that suits you. For instance, do you want to turn your affairs over to someone and let them make your decisions for you? Do you want a “father” figure? Do you want someone you can form a “partnership” with—who can work with you in tandem to make decisions and handle your case? The appropriate choice for selecting an attorney is strictly a personal one. But, also, keep in mind that you need to “shop” in your price range.
3. How do you know enough is enough and you should proceed with a divorce?
When you can no longer function productively each day and after deep soul-searching to determine that there is no hope for reconciling or working out your differences.
4. What’s the single top reason why most people divorce?
There is no single reason except that people find they have no more tolerance for the marital situation and that they are deeply unhappy. What leads to that, however, are usually reasons, that I call the “Big Six”. People typically divorce over issues in the following categories: Money/Property/Wealth; Loss of Love (Intimacy); the Children; Changes in Health (physical or mental); Growth (personal or professional); Fear (Physical/Emotional/Psychological).
5. Will the courts honor request not to allow divorce if citing religious reasons?
Though every state is different, in California, a court may not refuse to grant a divorce on the grounds of religious differences. There are only a handful of reasons the court grants a divorce, irreconcilable differences chief among them.
6. Will the courts require counseling if one party requests it?
In California, if both partners request counsel, The Court will provide it free of charge. In addition it is mandatory in California for partners to go through mediation on custody and visitation issues before said issues are heard by the Court.
7. If spouse gave 2 weeks notice to you that he was leaving because “he did not love you anymore”, and moved out Nov 7, 2006, and in January started a relationship with a girl he supposedly just met and by March was already dating and sleeping over at her house, is that grounds for adultery since there is no legal divorce papers or neither of us has sought divorce papers?
California is a “no-fault” state. In other words, it doesn’t matter whom you’re sleeping with or when (during or after the breakup). The court does not view this as “grounds” for divorce. This may be true in other states and it is best to confer with legal counsel in your respective state or call your attorney and ask the question: Is the state in which I’m seeking a divorce one that considers adultery reasonable grounds for divorce.
8. What’s the best way to help children of parents who are getting divorced?
Never, under any circumstances bash the one parent to the children, i.e., say bad things about them. Instead, try to work out your differences calmly and with the best interests of the children your primary concern. The children should not have to bear any more of a burden than they will already carry knowing their parents no longer want to be together. Also, be flexible with visitation and sharing custody. Children do much better when they see their parents giving way to the needs and wants of the kids.
9. How to go through a divorce without sacrificing your lifestyle and financial standing?
Sometimes this is not possible. Two incomes provide more discretionary income and two incomes also provide for more upscale amenities such as residences, cars, personal belongings. One income now divided in two is hard to stretch. Make do with what you have and realize you hopefully have exchanged a brighter future and peace of mind for dollars and cents. That said, if you spouse makes considerably more than you do, you certainly have a right to augment your income by asking for reasonable spousal support as well as child support.
10. I know it’s quite weird to ask this but how to legally save thousands on your divorce?
Do your level best to stay out of court but don’t waste an exorbitant amount of time trying to settle. Also, don’t waste a lot of your attorney’s time because he or she has every right to bill you for time spent on your case. If your attorney asks you to do a task, do it properly and efficiently, e.g., getting your financial records in order. Make sure you also seek the help of a good therapist. Divorce becomes costly when two people opt to fight it out. The fight takes a good amount of time, energy and resources all the way around. Possible solutions include: mediation with your ex or collaborative or cooperative law approaches. Work toward settling all issues, if you can. I tell my clients never to go to court unless they are financially, emotionally and physically prepared for the battles that it involves. And, only if all else fails.
11. How to get through a divorce easier and faster?
Keep your eye on the future. Seek counseling. Settle your financial and custody issues early on so you can move on. The sooner the ordeal is behind you, the sooner you can look to a brighter day.
12. How to fight for the custody of your children?
Only engage in a fight when you think it is best for the child. Do not use the children, ever, as pawns to get back at your ex or keep the fight going. If you have a legitimate reason for seeking custody, such as child abuse, make sure you find an attorney who specializes in such cases.
13. Is it possible to get divorced without going to court? If yes, how?
Yes. If you can agree to a settlement (and custody arrangements between the two of you if you have children), your attorney and your ex’s will take it from there. Papers will be drawn up, signed and filed.
14. What to do if a parent is a victim of Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?
In my opinion, this label is overplayed and there are now many different theories on how to deal with this issue. One suggestion is to seek counseling from both a therapist and an attorney, who can help if you feel your child or children are alienating you. Keep in mind, that the courts want the children to have the benefit of both parents, so support of one another is important in the eyes of the court. The court does not look favorably upon one parent keeping the child from the other. If you are a victim, insist on counseling between you and your child and even your ex to work out your differences. If that fails, seek the help of a qualified attorney who will then advise you of your rights and remedies.
Stacy D. Phillips, is a certified family law specialist in Los Angeles and author of Divorce: It’s All About Control–How To Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars (ExecuProv Press) and may be purchased at Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other major bookstores.