Episode 7: What To Do When… You Are Filing For Divorce.
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Welcome to What to do When… a podcast from real lawyers with real perspective. Where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week, we focus on a new topic and discuss what to do when, and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.
Jackie Critzer 0:28
Thank you for joining us for another episode of the podcast here at Critzer Cardani.
Scott Cardani 0:33
What to do when… A Dummies Guide to the legalverse.
Jackie Critzer 0:36
Real talk. Real lawyers.
Scott Cardani 0:38
Today we had some things come across our desk, I thought it was a really good time to do this podcast. And what we want to talk about today is what happens when…
Jackie Critzer 0:47
You’re faced with divorce for really whatever reason, but in particular, when you are the non earning spouse, and for whatever reason, the time has come to separate.
Scott Cardani 1:00
You know, a lot of times we get people who maybe the husband left, or the wife left all of a sudden, they don’t know what to do. They don’t know sometimes they don’t know about finances, sometimes they do. Sometimes they have access to finances, sometimes they don’t So Jackie…
Jackie Critzer 1:17
Well, sometimes it’s the spouse who’s that wants to leave? And it’s dire. What do I do? How do I do this? I have we have children, I don’t work. How am I ever gonna? How am I ever going to get out of this situation? If I’m not working? We have children who aren’t school aged. And I have limited resources outside of my nuclear family.
Scott Cardani 1:38
So what we’re going to do is move forward and we’re going to not really worry about who caused what, when, right. But why us, Jackie, why would you come to us in that situation?
Jackie Critzer 1:49
So I feel like we’re sort of broken records when it comes to that same question. But the answer is because experience in this area matters. You don’t take your car to get its battery fixed to a carwash. You need to have someone who although they may know about cars, they know specifically about what your needs are. And when I’m faced with a client who is in a situation where it’s time to divorce – resources are limited, whether they’ve been left or they’re doing the leaving. The first thing again, you have to always establish… are they safe? Are they in a safe place? And and how is the other person going to respond when they get served with papers? Is it divorce papers? Is it custody papers? Is it support papers? And walking through the strategy that makes the most sense that keeps everyone safe? Maybe safety is not a concern? Maybe it’s just time. But we always ask the question first, is everyone safe? And can we keep everyone safe? And then we analyze the money issue. The world goes around because of money. And you’ve got to figure out how to sustain yourself how to sustain your children. And so I personally take my clients through a support analysis or alimony, child support spousal support, it’s called a few different things. But that’s my first step.
Scott Cardani 3:01
Yeah. And for me, I look at we and we both do this, I know we both try to look at the whole picture. Because if you start if I don’t hear what’s going on in your life, and I don’t listen to the circumstances that brought you to this table, my help isn’t going to be the help you need. Can I get you divorced? Probably. Can I get you separated? Maybe, but are you going to be where you need to be at the end of the road? Maybe not. So one of the things Jackie and I really tried to do is focus on trying to get your story trying to understand your story, And where you want to be at the end of the journey. And it’s not always that we can get you exactly where you want to be at the end of the store story or the journey. But we have to have a goal and we have to see where you want to be. And so that’s why it’s so important that we take the time to listen, ask you questions. And sometimes the question is like, why, you know, we have a questionnaire, sometimes we have people fill out and they’re like, Why do I have to fill that out? It’s for that reason, so we can get a good picture of what’s going on. Because quite frankly, we can’t see everything we get a basically a snapshot of your life. And the more information the more detail in that snapshot, the better off we can help you.
Jackie Critzer 4:16
Do you get a lot of questions. I know I do get a lot of questions about Oh, well. Okay, I need money. I need support. How long is that going to take for me to get support?
Scott Cardani 4:25
Yeah, I get it all the time. And so many things factor into that, that that’s why it’s such an individual thing. Because Do you have children? How long do you have to wait before you can file is their fault grounds and we’ll get into these specific things in other podcasts. But at this beginning juncture, it’s so important to come down and sit with somebody who knows what they’re doing, and can walk you through to assess where you are. Is this your first time you’ve thought about it, you’re still living together and you have to be apart because of the three children a year before you can file because there’s really no fault grounds. That’s a completely different circumstance than the woman who’s getting beaten or somebody’s committing adultery. So there’s a lot of factors in that that have to be considered to help you get where you need to be.
Jackie Critzer 5:08
And some circumstances are more urgent than others. But even in the most urgent of circumstances, support is rarely an emergency situation. I know that there are avenues that can be taken. But but it’s very rarely used, in my experience anyway, and I don’t see where you can sort of fast track a support case. Most of the time, you really need to have probably two months worth of living expenses covered or shared or prepared for, from from the date, you’re, you’re gone, the separation, whether it’s the person who did leave, or who got left. It’s probably a couple months before you’re going to get into court.
Scott Cardani 5:54
We realize how much of a burden and how scary that is, we really do and we’ll, we’ll talk you through different strategies, maybe for you that maybe some other person may not have and vice versa. So lots of strategies can be employed to maybe get you to the place where you need to and maybe sometimes the best advice we can give you is Wait a minute. I know you want out, but you may need to wait a minute and get to another step in this process before you pull the trigger.
Jackie Critzer 6:21
Very true. And after support after money’s established, what is the next question most people are asking you when when it’s that all of a sudden divorce has been sprung on the person or they’re springing it? What’s the next question?
Scott Cardani 6:35
Well, honestly, it’s just how do I live? You know, what? Am I gonna have a retirement. Am I gonna have? How are the kids separated? You know, what’s going on? What’s gonna happen to my children? That’s probably the number two thing is money and children, children money, they kind of they’re kind of go back and forth. And it really isn’t somebody putting money before children. They put the money before the children because they want to take care of their children, usually, but that might be the first question. But if you have children, it’s always about how do I do this? And how do I protect my children?
Jackie Critzer 7:09
You know, and once we can establish what the next few months are going to look like after separation, whether it’s just happened or is is pending is about to happen? I find it really important to focus on the person who’s in front of me and figure out is this trauma related? And, you know, do they need counseling, are they in a situation where their overall life experiences being inhibited because of what they’ve just come through. Because divorce is hard, in the easiest of circumstances, it’s challenging, and it creates a lot of anxiety. And most people, you know, giving up the dream and pulling the trigger to separate can can really wreak emotional Havoc not only on yourself, but on your children and everyone around you. And I often encourage people to seek help early on in the separation rather than waiting, because that tools that will help them in a very stressful litigation process as well.
Scott Cardani 8:05
And I think it’s really important to note at this stage of the game, that the other person isn’t going to be happy with your decision.
Jackie Critzer 8:14
Scott Cardani 8:15
So a lot of people are like, Oh, how am I going to talk to them or whatever. And sometimes we take over that role to talk to them. But it’s not like you can just disappear into the woodwork either. And we just have to allow people to I always tell people, you gotta allow people to react, they’re not gonna like it, they may love it. But they got to react and and you’ve got to be prepared for that reaction and not let it hinder where you’re going or, or change. I don’t care if it changes so much. I’m not trying to say that, I guess I’m saying you can’t be pushed over by that emotion. It whether it’s negative or positive in that sense. So a lot of people are so worried about the response. But when I tell him, he’s gonna go ballistic. And then and a lot of times I have to walk him through, what does that mean to you? And put a real name on that? I mean, is that going to put you in real danger? Or is he just going to blow off and yell and scream, and you need to be at your mom’s so when you tell him – on a phone call. Those are things that we have to strategically fix and think about and put in place. Because your safety like Jackie said, is really important to us and but you know, the real goal is to get you free.
Jackie Critzer 9:21
Well, and and we’ve said a lot about what steps need to be taken. But all of them included talking to a lawyer, every single one and talking to a good team of people who who will get you what you’re – not necessarily what you want, but to get you from where you are to where you need to be. And your right team isn’t always the first team you pick. Sometimes you need to do a little fishing and find out ask a friend Ask a neighbor. Check around and see me a personal referrals are often the best. Sometimes Google can be helpful, but picking the right team has a lot to do with how your case is going to proceed in all aspects.
Scott Cardani 10:01
And it is somewhat tricky because when you’re talking about a divorce lawyer, if you go talk to Jackie, and then Bill and then Smith, it gets to the point where there’s some conflict issues start to arise. So, but you know, do your homework. We always say that. Man, you know, it’s our pleasure to serve you. But if we’re not the right fit, I don’t have any problem saying, Hey, I don’t know that I can help you. Sometimes, it’s, it’s as simple as we just don’t, you know, we don’t see the same way. I can’t understand what you’re telling me, because of the way you’re telling me and somebody else may get it really easy. And so you know, we don’t mind that we’re big enough to really wrap our heads around that and we want to do the best for you that we can do. And that means we have to have this team approach where we can work together. So that’s really important.
Jackie Critzer 10:53
Do you find that involving other team members in this process is helpful? Early on, we were just really talking about the launch of the “Okay, we’re separating, I’m leaving”. ?You’re leaving or whatever it is, how early on, should someone be strategizing about financial planning and those sorts of things?
Scott Cardani 11:13
it’s all kind of should be working together, you should be planning that kind of, you know, if you’re in a position where you got you and your husband or wife have a financial planner, maybe that’s one of the first steps you do. Sit down with them and find out what you really have. Like I said, some people were really involved in the finances. But quite frankly, there’s a, there’s a big myth out there in the world that most good marriages two people are involved in the finances. I rarely find that. I usually find one person pays all the bills and has the income coming in. And it’s really not a bad situation, it’s not abusive in any way. It was one person isn’t a money person, doesn’t want to be so – and I find that more likely than not. So, if you’re the person who’s not the money person, you may, you may have been denied all the access and can’t get to it. But it probably more than likely you have the access, you just never took it upon yourself to go look at it. That’s so important to go look at what you’re talking about. Some people think they’re super wealthy. And it turns out, they’ve been living off credit cards and had no idea I’ve had that case one time where they lived in $100 million – I mean, a million dollar house, they had Jaguars and Porsches and things. And when it came down to it, there was really no money, it was all debt. And it was a very shocking thing. So those are important things to figure out what really is and what really isn’t. I think that’s it, we just want to do a quick spot on the importance of when you make this decision and maybe even properly before you make this decision decision to sit down with somebody. Planning is very, very important because it’s a life changing event. And normally in divorce when two people separate you got to think of it this way You had one pie now you have two halves of a pie. And / or – you know some version thereof but it’s not the whole pie.
Jackie Critzer 13:03
Well and and several other episodes will dive into the more deep issues of what finances look like and how how the divorce process moves forward and how custody moves forward. But in the in the best broadest brush stroke, it’s getting the legal team in place as quickly as you can to make sure that those first steps are taken, and taken well.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of what to do when for more episodes, be sure to subscribe to our podcast, and we encourage you to check our archives to listen to previous topics. Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Critzer Cardani.
We look forward to helping you in this venture and Good Luck!