Setting expectations in the divorce process

“I Didn’t Know He Was Going to Be Such A D*ck”

In this life, we can group everything into one of two categories: “controllable” and “uncontrollable.”  Within the former are our actions, within the latter the actions of those around us.  Most of our clients that come to us seeking a divorce has AT LEAST one quality of their soon-to-be-former spouse that they dislike.  To possess the belief that they will suddenly change their ways and become an upstanding member of society and a model citizen through the proceedings is, at times, inaccurate.

A whole generation spent snow days and sick days watching crappy daytime TV. The general expectation is “if my spouse lies in court, Judge Judy is going to come from behind the curtain and lock them up!” Unfortunately, in real life, this does not happen.  There are processes and procedures to address inappropriate and/or illegal behavior.  These processes can take time, and potentially money.  But that is why we are here.  

So, let’s talk about a few things we can control. 

DISCOVERY

We need to get to the bottom of finding your marital assets.  Sometimes spouses tend to be sneaky in the months and years preceding a divorce and like to hide assets.  A great attorney will be able to forensically analyze your statements and uncover spending patterns and true income numbers.  

One of the attorneys at Reeves Lavallee, PC recently settled a case with such hidden assets.  The initial offer from the other party was $13,000.00.  After months of discovery and uncovering assets, the final settlement was more than twenty times that initial offer.  Discovery matters. 

When we receive discovery requests from the other party, we must also comply in a timely fashion.  These requests are generally due within 30 days.  We must follow the rules laid out by the Massachusetts Domestic Relations Procedure.  This includes telephone contact to negotiate timelines and a lot of tracking on our end.  We cannot move forward to compel discovery until our clients are also in compliance.  The sooner you produce your discovery responses, the better. 

RECORD KEEPING

Document Everything.  

We get phone calls every day from clients about their cases with updates.  We document everything for our clients and track important dates.  However, we are better able to serve our clients when they are diligent with this tracking.  Our clients save money and time by keeping a concise journal of updates.  The attorney’s pretrial memo is more effective at conveying your narrative if it reads “Parent X was late to pick up on these dates: _______” rather than “Parent X is often late to pickups.”

GET IT IN WRITING

Try to keep your communications limited to texts and emails.  This will help you hold the other party accountable for their responsibilities.  Texts and emails also help to paint the picture for the judge.  Verbal communication can be disputed, texts and emails cannot easily if at all, be disputed.  

FINANCIAL STATEMENT

Do not take this lightly.  You will need to update your financial statement every time you go into court.  The financial statement is a snapshot in time of your current income, assets, and expenses.  The judge relies heavily on this document to determine any support awards and division of assets and liabilities.  Take your time and ensure accuracy in filling these out.  Start them well ahead of your court date, so that you are prepared. This often-overlooked document has the potential to cost you a lot of money if not filled out properly.

CONCLUSION

Filing for Divorce is an extremely emotional and oftentimes traumatic event, and no two situations are exactly the same.  We are here at Reeves Lavallee, PC to help guide you through your specific set of circumstances.  Please give us a call at (508) 425-6945 to set up a consultation today. 

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