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Divorce advice: run it by your attorney first

When a spouse decides to file for divorce, there is one thing that is sure to follow: advice. The helpful suggestions, words of wisdom, recommendations and cautious warnings from family and friends seem inescapable, so why does anyone hire a Lake County attorney to do exactly the same thing?

There are a couple of things that set a family law attorney apart from family and friends. They are not only individuals with intimate knowledge and understanding of the laws in play, but they are also an unbiased third-party with extensive experience. Following advice from someone other than a divorce attorney can cause some unintended consequences.

Take for example the advice that “if he cheated, it means that you get the house.” Well, this is pretty much a blanket assumption. Under the community property theory, all marital property is divided in half, no “ifs ands or buts” about it. Under the equitable division theory, other factors are considered in a fairness determination, but they often fall more along the lines of economics -- like giving up a career to take care of the home.

How about a friend that tells the other that they should refuse to accept any offer for alimony that is below $4,000? First of all, alimony is not granted in every case. Second, every divorce situation is different and a payment is based on these unique aspects. Third, a fierce “all or nothing” stance could act as a barrier in negotiations or even anger a judge. In other cases, it might be the right move, but it certainly depends.

Advice from friends and family is often given with the best intentions, but it might be based on individualized, personal experience, assumptions or gossip. It could even be a manifestation of the friend’s own feelings in their relationship.

No need to worry, there are ways of handling this often unsolicited advice. One can simply smile and thank the other person. In other cases, a spouse can speak up and ask that someone only “support” them without opinion. It’s okay to consider some of the advice too; just run any decisions past your attorney first.

Source: The Huffington Post, “How To Deal With Unwanted Divorce Advice,” Bob Tomes and Jane Warren, Nov. 2, 2013

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