It may seem counter-intuitive, but the month of Saint Valentine is also generally the month that sees the highest volume of filing for divorce. For some people, getting divorced may be their New Years Resolution. Others wait until the start of the new year so that they can have one last holiday season with their families as usual. Whatever the reason, many people find themselves at the beginning of the divorce process on Valentines Day.
We all know that there are any number of ballads and love songs out there that celebrate the romance of a happy relationship, and no doubt the airwaves will be filled with them today. But you don’t want to listen to those songs if you find yourself at the start of a divorce, or even in the thick of one, this Valentines Day. Instead, have a listen to the following anti-Valentines Day playlist and take a cue from these songs about how to approach your own divorce case:
What’s Love Got to Do With It? by Tina Turner: When it comes to the divorce, love has nothing to do with it. Of course, divorce can come with emotional turmoil and it is important to deal with this, perhaps with the help of a qualified therapist. But it is helpful to consider the divorce itself as a business deal. How are we going to wrap up and distribute the assets and debts of the marriage (otherwise known as Equitable Distribution)? How are we going to re-distribute the division of labor (Custody and Parenting Time)? How are we going to make sure the parties to the marriage are fairly supported in the future (Alimony)? If possible, leave the emotion at the door, and think practically.
Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? by Culture Club: Ask yourself: Are you taking a position or engaging in conduct just to hurt your spouse? Do you really want to do that? Sometimes, you do. We are all human, after all. But a case driven by vengefulness and anger is not one that is likely to resolve, or resolve quickly. And when you have spent money in legal fees because of a hurtful, non-meritorious position that went nowhere, you’re probably going to wish you had taken a different tack. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t take a tough position – you should when the position is merited – but there is no point in being hurtful just to thumb your nose at your ex.
No Scrubs by TLC: While the ladies of TLC were complaining about the obnoxious men in their lives…both men and women can be scrubs. Don’t sit around talking about how you want your case to be resolved or what you think you or your ex deserve. Instead, work towards a resolution. Cooperate with your attorney and provide needed documents in a timely manner. Take reasonable, and justifiable, positions. Come to the table with ideas about how to move forward instead of focusing on the past. If you are a proactive participant in your divorce, you will feel more empowered and comfortable with your case and the result.
I Want It All – Queen: Many times, clients “want it all, and [they] want it now.” Unfortunately, in most cases, you can’t have it all. Neither can your spouse. Cases settle based on compromises that leave everyone feeling like they won a little and lost a little. When cases go to trial because they cannot be settled, nobody gets everything they want from the judge either. When preparing for a divorce and beginning settlement conversations, it’s important to prioritize your goals and know what you are willing to give up to achieve your top priorities, because you are unlikely to get every single thing you want.
Cry Me a River by Justin Timberlake: Simply put – this is what you’re going to tell your ex when they are complaining about how long the divorce is taking, or why you’re being unreasonable, or why can’t they have the dog, and so on and so forth.
Poison by Bell Biv Devoe: Don’t let your divorce poison everything else around you and every other aspect of your life. While divorce can feel all-consuming and scary, don’t let it run everything else you do, and don’t tell everyone who will listen about the nitty gritty details, as this is never appropriate.
Don’t Speak by No Doubt: I am all for clients who can talk to one another and work out some of their differences amicably. But sometimes, it’s better to say nothing at all. You don’t want to commit to part of a deal in piecemeal, or make your spouse think that you are more or less committed to a position than you really are. If you can’t speak honestly or productively with your spouse (and let’s face it, many people are getting divorced for that very reason), then it’s better not to speak to them at all without counsel present.
The Long and Winding Road by the Beatles: Divorce can be a long and winding road, indeed. While there will be ups and downs, left turns and sudden stops and starts, with the help of an attorney and a support system, you will come to the end and hopefully feel that the result is fair and equitable to both you and your spouse.
You Can Go Your Own Way by Fleetwood Mac: I find that many clients have a hard time finding their voice and developing their own opinions. In some cases, they are still highly influenced by their husband or wife and, oddly, inclined to listen to them even though they are in an adversarial role. In other cases, clients may be listening to their friends about their divorces. Whatever the reason, trust that your attorney is looking out for your best interests and will strive for your best outcome even if it’s not what your spouse thinks is right or what your friends experienced.
Stronger by Britney Spears: Remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Hopefully, at the end of your divorce, you will walk away feeling like you got most of what you want, you’re stronger today than you were yesterday, and you can move on with your life better than you led it before you started the process.
Whatever you’re listening to this year, Don’t Stop Believin’ that You Will Survive if you just have some Patience and Try a Little Tenderness … okay, I’ll stop now. Here’s hoping you hit up a different, more festive playlist next Valentine’s Day.
Jessica C. Diamond is an associate in the firm’s Family Law Practice, resident in the Morristown, NJ, office. You can reach Jessica at (973) 994.7517 or email@example.com.