Surviving Divorce: Who Can You Trust During the Process?

surviving divorce

Surviving divorce can be a difficult process and it helps to have a solid network of support to assist you along the way. However, it’s rarely helpful to seek advice and counsel from everyone you encounter.

Although it might seem helpful at first, it can be extremely detrimental to you and your family to have multiple people weighing in with their opinions and advice on such an important decision.

Surviving Divorce: Where to Get Support

So, whom should you trust? Here are some key considerations about who you should turn to survive the difficult process of divorce:

1. Be careful around recently divorced people.

Myth: Every recently divorced person is an expert on the subject. Another myth: Recently divorced people will tell you everything you need to hear. In reality: Rarely will he or she tell you what you need to hear.

2. Be cautious with well-meaning family and friends.

When you are going through a divorce, your entire circle of family and friends may feel compelled to weigh in on the process. However, you should be extremely cautious about following the legal advice from anyone who isn’t your divorce attorney.

In most cases, the advice that you get from your “well-meaning” friends and family is worth exactly what you pay for it. Absolutely nothing!

Don’t allow your family and friends to create unrealistic expectations about your case. The facts of your case are as unique as you are.

3. Seek emotional support from your closest family and friends.

While it is important that you are cautious with their legal advice, consider seeking emotional support from family or friends that you would trust to manage your money or raise your children.

Rely on those who will tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear. There is a huge difference between needs and wants.

4. Get help from support groups.

Legitimate divorce support groups sponsored by mainstream churches or qualified healthcare professionals are usually helpful. Make sure that the head of these groups are qualified to give advice on the subject.

There are excellent national resources and local resources that revolve around helping those who are surviving divorce.

5. Trust your attorney.

When it comes to the legal aspects of your case, you must follow the advice of your family law attorney. Therefore, it is imperative that you choose a divorce attorney that you trust with your money, your children, and your future.

6. Disclose confidential information only to your attorney

Every detail of your case must be disclosed to your attorney. The details you disclose will remain confidential only between you and your attorney. This information often contains intimate details about the client that is embarrassing. Only in certain circumstances, may your attorney disclose intimate details about your case without your consent.

7. Keep intimate details about your case to yourself

The attorney-client privilege only applies to information the client discloses to the attorney during the scope of the client’s representation. The same rule does not apply to the client disclosures made to any third party including family and friends.

Often times, those who you would trust to carry your deepest secrets to their grave are the very ones who act as a double agent and disclose this information to your spouse.

What You Musn’t Do When Surviving Divorce

A few years ago, I represented a husband who suspected that his wife was having an affair and he was right! The wife had been having the affair for over a year and made the critical mistake of telling her best friend all of the intimate details.

Unbeknownst to the wife, her friend also shared with her new boyfriend everything the wife told her. The boyfriend, who was recently divorced as a result of his wife’s adultery, contacted my client and gave him every detail of his wife’s affair including all trips planned in the future.

We hired a private investigator to document the details of the wife’s trip with her paramour. The private investigator videotaped the wife frolicking on the beach and verified that the couple was staying in the same hotel room together.

In mediation, we learned that the wife had not disclosed the affair to her attorney. The wife’s attorney threatened to fire her on the spot after she saw the private investigator photographs and videotapes of the affair. This information helped me negotiate a very favorable settlement for my client.

Always remember, when in doubt, keep your mouth shut. The phrase, “loose lips sink ships” applies to divorce cases as well!

Surviving Divorce: How to Emotionally Prepare for Divorce

Surviving Divorce: How to Emotionally Prepare for Divorce

Regrettably, far too many marriages end in divorce. In fact, 2.4 million Americans got divorced in 2012. And, that number has increased for the third year in a row.

In our society, divorce is an ever-present reality to every couple that decides to marry. Therefore, if you are ever faced with this decision to get divorced, you must mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for the difficulties that lie ahead.

Every divorce case is unique because each person involved in a divorce is unique. No one is ever fully prepared for all the issues that accompany a divorce.

I know. I have been divorced myself.

I have also been a family law attorney for almost 27 years and have represented hundreds of people going through this difficult process. Therefore, I know first-hand that every client, family member and friend must be fully prepared to embrace the process.

Emotional Preparation for the Divorce Process

If you are considering a divorce, one of the best things you can do is to prepare yourself emotionally. Although every situation is different, there are a few important reminders you must consider as you embark on the divorce process:

1. Divorce isn’t easy.

Naturally, the decision to divorce is one of the most significant decisions you will ever make. Divorce is a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Nothing about it is ever pleasant or easy.

Divorce can be emotionally and economically devastating to you, your spouse, your children and your entire family. Divorce and child custody cases involve many complex issues because they deal with couples that were madly in love with each other at one point.

Oftentimes, they grow to hate each other just as much. In most cases, there is a thin line between love and hate.

2. You are not a failure.

For individuals proceeding down the path of divorce, you must keep in mind that you are not a failure as a spouse, a parent, or a person.

Perfect marriages don’t exist. Perfect spouses do not exist. Perfect parents don’t exist. Perfect children don’t exist. Dysfunction exists in all of our households. It’s just a matter of degree.

3. There are no guarantees.

Unfortunately, we all live in an imperfect world. Bad things do happen to good people. That means sometimes good people get bad results in divorce cases.

Life is not always fair. Divorce is not always fair. The legal system is not always fair.

Sometimes a spouse and/or parent can do everything right and still wind up divorced with a household of messed up kids with a mind that will be emotionally scarred forever.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life. Marriage and divorce are no different. Keeping this in mind will help you through this challenging process.

How to Survive the Challenges of Divorce

Certainly, there are additional things you can do to help prepare yourself for a divorce so you can survive the process with your head, heart and dignity in tact.

In fact, that’s why I decided to write a book about it.

My book, Surviving Divorce, is the product of the wisdom I have gained as an experienced family law attorney. My book is a commonsense guide to dealing with the physical, emotional, and spiritual stresses that divorce puts on an individual, their friends and their families.

If you would like additional tips about how to survive going through a divorce, I encourage you to check out my book. You can get it here.

Lifetime Alimony Award Ruled Against By Tennessee Supreme Court

In a unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court declared lifetime alimony to be inapplicable when the receiving spouse is in good health, receives a good salary, and has received substantial assets in the division of martial property. The highly anticipated decision was the product of a 2009 divorce proceeding between Johanna and Craig Gonsewski. Craig Gonsewski took home an annual salary of $137,000 with an additional $38,000 bonus as a comptroller of a restaurant equipment manufacturer. His wife Johanna, who is employed in the information technology sector of the state, received an annual salary of $72,000. In the Court of Appeals, Craig Gonsewski was ordered to pay $1,250 to his ex-wife each month.
In reversing the decision by the Court of Appeals, Chief Justice Cornelia A. Clark noted the impossibility for a separated couple to enjoy the same standard of living they enjoyed while married with mutual assets and income. Moreover, Clark determined that Tennessee law clearly favors temporary over lifetime alimony and intends for such awards to be used in an effort to ease the transition from married to single life. He went on to state that lifetime awards should be reserved for spouses who due to mitigating factors such as age or extensive unemployment would have difficulty becoming self-sufficient. Likewise, while Johanna Gonsewski was in her 40’s at the time of the divorce and had worked throughout her marriage to establish a successful career, most lifetime awards go to women who are over 50 and have sacrificed their careers for their family.
Additionally, it was held that Johanna Gonsewski was not entitled to the lump-sum alimony award of her attorney fees and expenses for both the trial and appeal, as she was considered to be partially responsible for them and was financially capable of paying them herself. The Supreme Court ultimately reinstated the judgment of the trial court and determined the lower court did not abuse its discretion in awarding alimony to neither party. The decision is expected to shape the allocation of money in divorce proceedings across the state.

Posted By: Eston Whiteside

Divorce More Accessible and Cheaper Under New Tennessee Rule

In an effort to improve access to justice the Tennessee Supreme Court has adopted a new rule that will allow Tennesseans without minor children or dependents, pension plans, and property or businesses to file for divorce without lawyers. The new rule allows those eligible to use “plain-language” forms for “agreed divorces,” those that are uncontested and bear no significant legal issues. To be eligible, couples must not have children who are minors, disabled, or still in high school; the wife must not be pregnant; the couple must not own any property or a business; they must not have pension plans and the decision to end the marriage must be mutual. If the couple fails to meet these requirements then a lawyer must be retained. However, it is suggested that the couple consult a lawyer when preparing the divorce agreement as a judge may disapprove of the agreement if it is deemed unfair. Likewise, the forms will include easy-to-read instructions that explains what to expect in court, as well as advice on what to wear and how to behave.
These “plain-language” forms were recommended in January by the Access to Justice Commission, an agency appointed by the Supreme Court to research ways to provide more efficient avenues to justice, with an emphasis on cases involving lower income families. Chief Justice Cornelia Clark added, “the forms are not intended to replace the need for an attorney but rather provide a helpful resource for attorneys and also for Tennesseans who choose to file for divorce on their own because the can’t afford to hire an attorney.” The new rule goes into effect September 1 and the forms will be available for download at or
Tennessee Supremes Approve Do-It-Yourself Divorce Forms, Offer Fashion Advice
Posted By: Eston Whiteside