Co-founder of Divorce Lawyers for Men, Frank Morris, has been trying and winning cases for his clients for over 35 years. During those 35 years he developed several rules that have helped his clients to win. Watch his video and read the rules for surviving divorce.
1. If you want it, keep it
If you want the family home, do not voluntarily move out. If you want custody, stay with the kids. If you want a particular item, like your Harley, take it with you when you leave the family home.
It is much easier for your lawyer to argue for you to keep something that you already have possession of rather than to argue to take something away from your wife that is in her possession. Early temporary possession has a habit of becoming permanent possession. So if you want it, keep it from day one.
2. Do not waste time when you are with your attorney
If your first visit to your divorce attorney is for general information, or to learn your rights, be prepared and be concise. Do not just ramble. Make a list of your questions and concerns before you go and when you are ready to start your divorce or respond to the divorce that your wife has started, you should consider all of the issues that will be facing you during a divorce. Make a list of your questions, your issues, and your concerns. Make a list of what is most important to you. And take a list of your assets and debts with you.
Be prepared for a productive business conference. Concisely state the issues in your divorce and clearly state what you want. Tell the lawyer your priorities and your concerns. Make certain that the lawyer is listening to you. And make certain that you are listening to the lawyer. This is a business meeting – take notes.
Lawyers are expensive. We charge by the minute. So don’t waste those minutes. Get the most you can out of every dollar you spend. Don’t waste time when you are meeting with your lawyer, it costs too much. Be prepared. Be concise. And keep on the issues. It will save you money and get you the best results.
3. Think and plan ahead
Think about all the aspects that will be involved in your divorce. Where will you live? Who should get custody of the kids? What’s a reasonable visitation plan? What support is fair? Research your retirement. Prepare a property and debt division list. Think and plan.
Decide what it is that is most important to you and prioritize. You can not win everything you want on every issue. Decide which issues are non-negotiable for you, but also decide what you want, but would be willing to compromise on. Think about your spouse’s priorities. What will she compromise? What will she fight for? Sit down and write out your position on each issue.
Make a detailed list of all your property and all of your debt. Be thorough. Then create what you believe is a fair division. Not where you get absolutely everything you want but a reasonable division that a fair person would agree to. That’s usually the most that you’re going to get. So start from there. The better prepared you are, the better result that you will get.
4. File for divorce before your wife does
The person who starts the divorce by filing a petition with the court, and having the papers served on their spouse, is called the ‘Petitioner’. Many people are reluctant to start a divorce but there are advantages to being the Petitioner. Your petition for divorce, and your motion for temporary orders, frame the issues for your divorce.
You state your position on each issue first, the court reads your documents first, your lawyer speaks first, the judge hears your side of the story first, and you set the timetable for the hearing. Your wife is stuck playing catch-up on the issues that you have framed and on your timetable. Filing first is not a slam dunk but it gives you the uphill advantage.
5. Take temporary orders very seriously
Temporary orders become permanent. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that the temporary orders in your divorce are only temporary and are not important. Temporary orders have a habit of becoming permanent orders.
If you lose in round 1, why are you going to win in round 2? If you lose in round 1, you then have to convince the judge that they were wrong in round 1 and that they should change their mind and now give you what you want. That’s not a good position to be in.
It’s smarter to thoroughly prepare for the initial hearing and achieve everything that you can in those initial temporary orders. Prepare for the temporary hearing as if it was the final hearing, because it may be the final result. It’s easier to defend a win than it is to recover from a loss.
6. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the judge to hear
Everything that you say to your soon-to-be ex-spouse during the divorce can be used against you as evidence both during, and after, the divorce. Think before you speak. Just walk away or hang up.
Words taken out of context can look very bad when repeated in court. Never write an email or a letter to your wife (or a social media post or text message) that you do not want the judge to read.
Think about what you post on Facebook and other social media sites. It’s all evidence that can be used against you during your divorce or during a modification. So don’t give them hostile evidence to use against you.
7. Lead the life you say you lead
Your actions and conduct during divorce should match what your attorney is telling the courts that you are doing, and that you want. Don’t tell the court one thing, and then do another. If you want custody or equal time with your kids then commit to spending that time with your kids now.
Make yourself available, don’t miss visitation, don’t even be late for visitation, and then ask the court for custody or more visitation. If you say that you cannot afford all of the demands that your wife wants, don’t buy a new car or go on a Las Vegas vacation during a divorce.
Your lifestyle and your conduct should match your divorce pleadings. Your wife will be more than happy to show the judge how what you say in court does not match what you really do. Your lifestyle is your best evidence during the divorce.
8. Do not lie
Now that sounds pretty simple. But it can be hard. When the pressure is on, and money and custody are at stake, it’s tempting to bend the truth.
But don’t do it. Do not lie. Lies come back to bite you. The truth is out there. The truth will surface. Once the court knows that you lied about one fact they will not believe you when you are telling the truth about other facts.
By trying to bend the truth a little in your favor you will give your wife absolute credibility in the courtroom. Don’t help her beat you. Face the truth and deal with it head-on. It will come out better for you in the end.
9. Let it go
Once the divorce is final – move on. Put the divorce behind you. Let it go. You’ve lost what you’ve lost and you’ve won what you’ve won. You’re not going to change the outcome by beating it to death. You have a great life to live. So go live it.
10. Keep it to yourself if you want to keep it for yourself
If you get a raise, a promotion, a gift, an inheritance, or win the lottery, keep that information to yourself. Bragging about your good fortune will result in you sharing that good fortune with your ex-wife.
During the divorce process, you had to truthfully disclose facts about your income and employment. Now you’re divorced. There is no rule that you have to keep your ex-wife up-to-date on your successes and good fortune. She will want a share of that good fortune. So keep it to yourself and you may get to keep it.
11. Think before you remarry
This rule may not be popular with some of our fellow divorce lawyers, but it is a good rule for you.
You just paid a huge emotional and financial price to get divorced. Don’t jump right back into another marriage without a lot of thought. Most quick rebound marriages fail. Think about why your last marriage failed. Think about why this new relationship will work when the old one did not.
We prefer that you go forward with a happy and prosperous life.
Our divorce rules video and checklist are useful resources intended to give individuals very basic information about divorce in Washington State. Use of these resources does not constitute or imply legal representation, nor does it replace retained legal counsel. If you need a lawyer, contact Divorce Lawyers For Men.
* Divorce Lawyers For Men’s primary purpose is to be a resource to men and to assist, guide, and advocate for them through difficult decisions that, for most, will change their lives dramatically. Becoming informed is the first step in this process. That is why we have created these resources.