You’ll likely get a lot of unsolicited advice if you’re going through a divorce. It can leave you overwhelmed and not knowing what to do. We won’t claim to give you the ultimate secret to a perfect divorce. These things are inherently messy and uncomfortable. But here are a few tips that might help you survive and perhaps get what you want in the end.

– Everything that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, from the couch you bought to the amount of retirement savings you built up, and even a business your spouse or you started, is considered “marital property.” The law says both spouses are entitled to a portion of any marital property. It usually doesn’t matter whose name is on it or whose salary went to pay for it.

– Child custody and visitation are based on the best interests of the child. This is a legal standard that the judge uses in making any orders on where a child lives, who has decision-making power, etc. Don’t make the mistake of assuming you’ll get what you want because of the status quo. Details matter. Document the quality time you spend with your child or children and what you provide them with on a daily basis. Make the same notes on what your spouse contributes.

– Set goals, and try to focus on the long term. We know you can’t take all of the emotion out of a divorce, but the more you can the better your decisions will be. Think about what you want for yourself and your children in five years, not just in the coming months.

– Hire a good lawyer. We know this seems like obvious advice coming from a bunch of lawyers, but if you don’t have someone to guide you through the process and fight for your goals, you might end up far from where you had hoped. You can’t expect any help from your spouse’s lawyer or the judge, so it’s really a risk to handle things on your own or with a lawyer who doesn’t have the experience to get things done.

– If your divorce is messy, don’t take any advice from your spouse. And don’t let them get you into a state of mind where you are fearful that you’ll lose everything. Don’t let threats get to you. Getting support from family and friends is important, but only take legal advice from your lawyer.

If you have questions about any of this or want an attorney referral, call us at (312) 346-5320 for a confidential, free, consultation with one of our staff attorneys.