I handle a lot of divorces in my practice. I have no doubt that each of us knows someone who is going through a divorce, is divorced, wants a divorce, or needs a divorce. Ok, I’m just kidding on the last two, but the reality of the world today is that each of us has been touched by divorce in some way. What I will share with you is how you can help someone who may be going through a divorce.
- Act like a friend, not an acquaintance. A true friend will tell someone what they need to hear. An acquaintance will tell someone what they want to hear. If your friend is acting irrational and letting emotion rule over reason in their divorce, be a friend and tell them. Yes, the truth hurts, but so do shots. Sometimes a little pain is worth the long term benefit.
- Remind them that children come first. Divorce is devastating to children. Children do not need to know anything about the divorce or why their parents are getting divorced. Parents should focus on strengthening their children and on promoting a healthy relationship with the other parent, rather than using their child as a counselor, sounding board, or pawn. If a marriage cannot be saved, at least spare the children.
- Tell them to hire an attorney. I know this may sound self-promoting, but I’ve met with numerous people this year that tried to save money by not hiring a lawyer and represented themselves in court. I estimate that by not hiring an attorney they cost themselves about $25,000 in lost benefits or future costs. I am a big “do it yourselfer” too, but sometimes a professional needs to be involved. Just because you can find a form on the Internet or read a blog on divorce, does not make you proficient in the law. There is an old saying, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” It is called “practicing law” for a reason: it takes time, effort, and experience to become a skilled attorney. When you hire an attorney, you are hiring someone to protect your best interest.
This list could be much longer, but if you do know someone preparing to go through a divorce, be a friend and forward this information to them. They will either delete it or thank you.