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Divorce: Everyone has advice and opinions

When a person in North Dakota mentions to others that they are considering getting a divorce, suddenly everyone is a wise "expert" with detailed advice and opinions. People suddenly find themselves being "counseled" by their hair dresser, barber, bartender, cab driver, neighbor, card game buddy or siblings. They all have "heard" that you should (or shouldn't) try to kick your estranged spouse out of the house, close (or keep open) the joint checking and savings accounts, file for divorce immediately (or wait awhile), and discuss the matter in detail with (or keep it quiet from ) your wife or husband.

Undoubtedly, all of these people mean well, but making plans for your divorce on the basis of such advice ultimately makes about as much sense as planning treatment for cancer on the advice of a pizza delivery man, dental treatment based on some tips from your child's ballet teacher or planning your retirement based of the wisdom of a Little League coach.

Your bartender may be a great guy and mix a great drink. Ask him where he went to law school. All these people generally have no idea about the specifics of how divorce law currently works in your state, what changes the state legislature may have made to the divorce laws recently or how particular decisions on property division, spousal support, child support and the transfer of retirement accounts will impact on tax consequences.

Additionally, a lot of friends and relatives may give you destructive and vindictive advice. Contest every issue in court. Compromise on nothing. Don't cooperate with your estranged spouse. Use the children as bargaining chips. This all leads nowhere, winds up costing much money and drags out the proceedings far longer than they have to be.

Divorce attorneys are professionals. They are up-to-date on the latest changes in the law and experienced in guiding a divorce through the maze that is the court system. They also have practical wisdom as to how to make everything go smoother, based on having gone through it repeatedly. Thank your bartender, and let him give you a last drink on the house to end the evening. But look to you lawyer for legal advice.

Huffington Post, "How to Deal With Unwanted Divorce Advice" Bob Tomes and Jane Warren, Nov. 02, 2013

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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