By Kate Kovats
I grew up watching courtroom procedurals like “Perry Mason” and “Law and Order,” As soon as my ballerina phase ended, I set my sights on being a lawyer. Fast forward to now, I’m a practicing family law attorney, and there are a few things I’d like my clients and future clients to know.
First of all, this isn’t as seen on TV or the big screen. A lot of people think – for better or worse – that divorce means going to court. They envision contentious courtroom scenes and burgeoning legal bills.
While some cases do end up in a courtroom, you can rest assured, many, many divorce cases are also settled outside of the courtroom. If both you and your soon-to-be ex want to settle outside of court, you will settle outside of court.
And while sometimes it is necessary to go to court, you don’t have to fight to the death for every penny, every piece of artwork, or every frequent flyer mile. Even if you have children. Especially if you have children.
If you do have children, I recommend reading “The Cure for Divorce Culture” by Ashley-Nicole Russell, because it explains our divorce culture and what you can do to make the best of a challenging situation – for your sake and your children’s.
Here are the three other things I’d like clients, future clients, friends and family members going through a divorce to keep in mind.
1. Hire the right divorce lawyer…for you.
You might think you need to hire a bulldog. You might feel tempted to use the same attorney as your friend. You might feel that your attorney’s gender matters.
No matter what you are looking for, the most important thing is that you hire a divorce lawyer with whom you are comfortable. Not only are you going to be spending a lot of time with this person, you’re going to share some of the most personal details of your life. Think romance, sex, addictions, infidelity, mental health, physical health and more.
When meeting with a lawyer, if you don’t click, if you feel rushed or dismissed, or if you can’t stand the attorney’s personality, move on and consult with someone else. Find the right one for you. There are a lot of us out there.
2. Be straight with your attorney.
We have heard it all. Let me repeat, we have heard it all. And we’ve seen it all. That includes the compromising photos and the explicit text messages.
Be honest with your divorce attorney. Answer questions truthfully and be proactive by providing information – even sensitive information – that might be pertinent to your case. There’s nothing worse than being blindsided in court by some revelation that we could have diffused or planned for in advance.
When your attorney asks, “What’s the worst thing your ex is going to say about you?,” be 100% honest.
3. We’re not all jaded.
Divorce lawyers have a rep for being jaded when it comes to marriage.
We’re not jaded, but we are pragmatic. For example, we welcome clients who come to see us before marriage or separation to discuss a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement. In those times, we hope it’s the only time we’ll see them.
I find it refreshing that my millennial peers are more open to prenups. They still hope to be married forever, but they recognize that if it doesn’t last they’ve laid the groundwork for as easy and amicable split as possible. Many millennials also realize that a prenup can also work as a roadmap on how to handle future endeavors, such as opening a business.
We are just like everyone else. Some of us are married, some of us are single, some of us are divorced. Most of us are still open to the idea of true love.
Bonus content just for fun:
My favorite rom-coms: “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Sweet Home Alabama”
William and Kate? Or, Harry and Meghan?: William and Kate
My favorite TV or movie couple? Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler. And Tami and Eric Taylor from “Friday Night Lights.” I just love all of them.
Dream date? I’m not sure I have one actually.
Most romantic movie ever? “The Notebook”