By Attorney Henry Gornbein
Special to THELAW.TV

We are in the midst of a horrible winter; divorces can be horrible as well. They don’t have to be and a lot depends on your attitude. When you think about my 14 divorce issues for this year, I want you to try and use them as a means of trying to keep your divorce cool, rather than a war.  A lot depends on you and also your soon-to-be-former spouse.  Think about these points carefully as you go through the divorce arena.

1. Are you sure that you want a divorce? A divorce should be a last resort, not your first.

2. Have you tried marriage counseling? Exhaust everything and try to save your marriage through marriage counseling if possible.

3. Have you thought about the impact of a divorce on your children? Are you prepared to share custody? In most states, the trend is for shared custody in the event of a divorce. Think about what is in the best interests of your children and not necessarily what you want.

4. Have you talked to an attorney? Do so before you make any final decisions. You want to know what your options are and as much as possible about what to expect if you do proceed with a divorce.

5. Do you know your family finances? Find out as much as you can. Remember that in a divorce, you will not have as much to live on as before. The income is divided through child support and, in some instances, alimony. Think about that before you act. Most people have less cash flow after a divorce than before.

6. Have you prepared a budget? It is important to know what you live on and what you will need in the future. Think about that carefully.

7. How much do you have? Do you know what your assets and debts are? Look at the financial records and try to find out as much as possible about the net worth of your family. Remember that you will probably have half of what you had once the divorce is final.

8. Discovery is an important issue in any divorce. If you do not know what you and your spouse have, this can usually be discovered during the divorce process. Be careful, though, if your spouse has a cash business or is less than honest. It may be like a treasure hunt. Having a good attorney to help you discover what there is can be critical in helping to achieve a good settlement.

9. Do you have a support system? This is important. You need someone to talk to. To vent to. Remember that people will be on the sidelines giving you advice and sometimes it is not the best advice. Be careful who you talk to.

10. Plan for the future. Remember that a divorce is a process. It ends and then you have to start picking up the pieces and moving on. Are you ready to do that?

11. Keep a diary as you go through your divorce. This is important to keep track of events or problems as you go through the legal and emotional process of your divorce.

12. Don’t divorce for the wrong reasons. Don’t run into the arms of another woman or another man. Too often, you will be going from one mess into another. Be careful and make no major decisions for at least a year after your divorce is over.

13. Think about your goals. Where do you want to be in one year? In five years? Planning is important. Plan for your life before, during and after your divorce.

14. Remember that a divorce is a marathon and not a 100-yard dash. Bear in mind that it is one of the most emotionally draining events that anyone can go through. Do not take the decision to divorce lightly. It will alter your life economically, psychologically, and legally, as well as changing the amount of time that you have with your children.

I hope that these 14 points are of assistance to you if you should go through a divorce during 2014. The goal with these points is that you think about everything thoroughly because, in my family law practice, I have always believed that the more knowledgeable a client is, the better off the client is. I hope that these are helpful to you as you go through a possible divorce.

The author, Henry Gornbein, is a Birmingham, Michigan divorce attorney.