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What you need might be different than what you want



Though divorce has lots of causes, there's one of three ways it ultimately starts: Either you decide to move forward with a divorce, you and your spouse decide together, or you're blindsided by a spouse that announces it to you or serves you papers. When that happens, a lot of emotions surge to the surface, and you think in terms of what you want.

What you want might take the shape of an asset--the house, the pension fund, the stock portfolio--or maybe even all of these assets. You might want full custody of the children, thinking that you're the parent that deserves them. You might also want to make sure you "win" a divorce, and that your spouse feels the loss.


While those are perfectly natural feelings, they're not a good basis for creating a divorce settlement. If you take the case to court, it's unlikely that assets or custody will tip to one party or the other. If you're trying to settle the case out of court, it's not realistic to base your negotiations entirely on what you want - particularly if you're negotiating with someone you're going to continue co-parenting with in the future.


What's better is to come at divorce from the perspective of what you need. Meeting with a lawyer at the outset of the process can help you separate the incredible emotion you're feeling from what needs to be done legally to help you move forward once the divorce is settled. If you start with that perspective, it will help you to have a better, less contentious experience that will ultimately help you not just get through your divorce, but emerge from it in a better way.


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