As we talked about last week, being prepared for divorce including custody court after, is very important. But how do can we be prepared to face the legal process?
The first and most important thing is to present yourself in a very business-like manner.
How you look on the outside, compared to what’s going on, on the inside, is crucial to how things will go for you. No matter the circumstances, the better you present yourself and your case, the more positive the outcome will be.
Here are my best tips.
Stop putting other people in charge of your life.
Oh, this was a big one for me! I had become so used to people telling me what to do, my entire life, that I didn’t know what I wanted anymore. Even when I hired my lawyer, I expected her to educate me about how to get through the divorce process, what I would need to survive after, and just assumed she knew what was best for me.
I had to take back the decision-making power for my own life and assert myself in a way that people could hear me. I could no longer assume they knew or understood what I needed. I just had to speak for myself, not back down, repeating myself if necessary, while not worrying about what they thought. It was now my life to live, not theirs. My decisions to make, and I was ready to make them… even if no one liked it.
This included any decision-making power over my present or the future I was giving my soon-to-be ex-husband. He tried to control the situation, even after he left. But I realized he lost that right when committed adultery, abandoned me and filed for divorce. I can’t say the lawers actually listened or even cared but I know I felt better about myself, and the fact that I was in charge of my life again.
A divorce turns a marriage into a business transaction. – Dave Ramsey
Put your feelings aside.
As hard as it is right now, you have to separate your feelings and emotions from the legal case. All decisions should be based on what is wise for you and your future, not about how you’re feeling or what others want. Don’t think about your husband being upset with you or not wanting you back, if you ask for what you deserve. Don’t give up your half just to appease him, because you may regret that someday when you’re living on much less normal, while he’s living on much more.
You have to assume that this divorce will be finalized and that you’ll need to survive without a husband. Also, assume that he’ll only supply you with what is written in the legal documents. Don’t allow verbal agreements because they have no security.
This marriage has become a corporate split. Get your half and get it all in writing!
Present yourself as a professional.
Not only do you need to leave all feelings and emotions at home (something that I wasn’t able to do), but you need to present yourself as the corporate executive who is coming for her half of the business. You may need to go out and purchase business attire if you don’t already own them.
Don’t show up in your regular clothes, or your worst, thinking a judge will feel sorry for you. Most times they will not. They’ll just think worse of you and your situation. But coming dressed as a professional shows them that you’re serious about this case and getting what you deserve. Remember, sometimes you’re also showing them what kind of parent you are, as well. And that’s very important!
Have tools to calm you.
I know going to court can be very intimidating. Even seeing your STBX/ex can cause a great deal of stress, PTSD symptoms, and more. It’s so important that you find ways to calm you and keep yourself collected rather than allowing that uneasiness to show. Any weakness or displeasure can be used against you or exploited.
Having a pad of paper where you can take notes and/or where you have Scripture written down can remind you that God is still with you. I kept note cards with my favorite Bible verses stuffed into all pockets, as well as tissues. I wanted to be prepared for anything.
Present objective evidence for all of your claims.
Conduct yourself with great integrity. Those with integrity are believed. So don’t lie or make up stories, don’t even stretch the truth. Be honest at all times and show objective evidence to back any and all claims. This will also show the court that you are the best fit for your children.
This may mean you need to document everything that has gone on during the marriage and the divorce. And all the things we talked about last week. All documentation needs to be as objective as possible, meaning leave the feelings out. Just present the facts, dates, times, etc.
What questions do you have about being prepared? Any advice for others?
God bless your healing journey,