Advice from Susan Shofer, Divorce and Custody Expert
By: Susan Shofer
If there is one thing I hear consistently, amongst my clients who are going through a divorce, is that they just want to get it over with. I get it. I did too when I was going through my divorce. You might ask yourself if a cookie-cutter divorce solution would be better than a more traditional route? An uncomplicated divorce is very appealing. Check a few boxes, cross some items of the list and voila, you are divorced. No one wants to go through a divorce. It’s emotionally painful, financially challenging and can take much longer than one find’s palatable.
In our quick paced society, everyone wants things packaged neatly and executed quickly. Our smartphones enable us to do everything with a few taps or swipes. Whether it is making dinner/hotel/ plane reservations, a doctor’s appointment, dating, purchasing movie tickets, or even buying a car – we have the technology to have everything at out fingertips. I know my life runs much smoother amidst my very hectic days because I have everything at my fingertips whether I use text messaging, Twitter or my computer, I know that I am connected to everyone and everything I need with a few key strokes.
The flip side of having everything expeditiously handed to us, is that we want everything instantly. We either don’t have time nor do we want to make the time to wait for anything anymore. I remember my mother used to tell me time and time again that “Good things come to those who wait.” I didn’t like hearing that when I was child, and although there is some truth to that old saying, I don’t like being reminded of it now. No matter how much I don’t necessarily want to buy into that curmudgeon thinking, there are some things, in life, that don’t come instantaneously and nor should they.
One such area is divorce.
One Size Fits All?
There is a new basket of attorneys who have come up with a concept of uncomplicated divorces, sort of like a “one size fits all” divorce package. These divorces are very straight forward without a lot of legal fluff. Most importantly, they are so well developed, to fit everyone’s needs, that a person can be divorced relatively quickly and move on with the rest of their life, almost as though a divorce never took place at all. How great is that? A divorce that is quick, easy and maybe painless. It’s sounds almost too good to be true. In many cases it is.
Please don’t jump all over me for making a comment that sounds as though I am negative about someone else’s business model. I am not doing that at all. Personally, I prefer anything that is going to be straightforward and doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles. I am the first person to tell my clients not to hire attorneys who want to complicate their divorce and drag it on for years. However, I want to throw caution to people when it comes to a possible oversimplified divorce that can miss something crucial to the case; an error that cannot be recovered.
These new easy and quick divorces harken me back to another bit of advice given to me by my mother and that is “Haste makes waste.” In my line of work as a Divorce Consultant I have heard my share of horror stories from clients who breezed through or were coerced to just “get it over with” to later bear the burden of a one-stop shop kind of divorce. What I am talking about is months or years down the road when one of the parties realizes that something was missed, or they did not get their fair share in the settlement to find that there is nothing they can do about it. That is because a divorce settlement is final and non-modifiable in most states.
What exactly does that mean? In most states, once the ink dries on the divorce decree nothing can be changed except for custody issues, parenting plans or child support. That means both parties are stuck with the settlement as it is. Sure, there are situations when both parties agree to make amendments to the final divorce decree but, let’s face it, how many people are that agreeable to do such a thing. Who really wants to open up old wounds?
Don’t get me wrong, I am the first person to jump on anything new that makes our lives easier, so I am not making any judgements when it comes to wanting an uncomplicated divorce. Surely, short marriages where no property was acquired nor were children produced, may use a divorce short form. My caution to the wind is for both parties to be aware of the high stakes involved should they not cover all bases.
As my mom used to say, “Make sure to dot your i’s and cross your t’s.”
About Susan Shofer: Susan Shofer is a divorce and custody ally to those who need help navigating their divorce. She is the author of The Divorce Recovery Ladder. Find out more on her website.