Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Rules of Thumb (or any other digit of your choice)

Enough esoteric discourse!  How about a few pointers?

If you are planning to assert that the house should be yours, don't move out.

If you are going to argue that the children should live with you, don't leave them behind.

If your spouse tells you that he (or she) will sign over custody to you later, when you are on your feet so it's safe to sign over custody to him (or her) now, don't believe him (or her).

If you live in a nice house, drive a nice car, have a decent television set and your clothes aren't falling apart, don't expect the judge to believe that you only earned $9,000.00 last year.

If your spouse routinely has unexplained missing time, zealously guards her cell phone, has password protected email or routinely deletes her history, figure something is up.

If you have been staying at home raising the children, and the children are pretty much alright and you aren't a raging alchoholic or something equally troubling, expect that you will probably win custody of the children, no matter how much your spouse claims otherwise.

If you've been married the entire time that your spouse has been building up the 401k, figure you are going to split it and 50/50 is probably not far wrong.

Expect to never get away with child support consisting of just buying the children what they need, when they need it.

If you've taken a trip to Vegas, finished out your basement and bought a puppy, don't expect the judge to believe you when you tell him you haven't paid any child support for six months because you have no money.

If you've been cold and distant for years, perhaps sleeping in another bedroom, perhaps blatantly argumentative, perhaps taking separate vacations, don't be surprised when your spouse files for divorce.

If you haven't made a lot of time for your children while they've been growing up, don't be shocked when they choose to live with your spouse (unless they want out for the same reason you do).

And finally, if you are staying together for the kids, through the arguments, the coldness, the loneliness, know that your children might very well follow more closely in your footsteps than you would ever wish them to.

Michael Manely


  1. I just read your February 9 post and enjoyed the humor and truth in your tips. I especially appreciated the last point regarding the effect of an enduring, bad relationship on children. We don't often hear that divorce may be the best decision parents can make for their children, when in truth, so maney people wouldn't make the decision to divorce otherwise. The book you recommend to your clients, The Good Divorce, by Constance Ahrons, is a great resource for families. Her web site is constanceahrons.com. I look forward to you sharing more about how children can and mostly do thrive post-divorce and how the divorce process can be structured to help insure that desired outcome. Of course, transforming a bad marriage into a healthy happy one should be the first effort. But if that's not possible, transitioning out of the marriage with an eye on nurturing the children through the process is the next, right step. Thanks for a great post!

  2. After a wretched divorce (that sometimes feels like the other party still wants it to drag on for infinity), I found out first hand that taking the high road with the kids really does work in the long run. My youngest has finally come to the conclusion on his own that the divorce was the very best choice for all involved. That high road was a long one at times, but it has paid off emotionally.

    Great post.

  3. In the process of a divorce its always best to remember the children don't need to be in the middle of it. Dispite the fighting over who gets the "China". The most important people involved who happens to be the children don't need to suffer anymore than they already have. Believe that they can feel all of our emotions whether we speak them or not. It will help to build a more positive force in the home and I'm sure it will be appreciated by the kids.

    Great post.