Divorce Dos and Donts

As a divorce lawyer, I know what is important to my clients. You probably browsed through websites of other lawyers and read what they have to say. Many lawyers will try to make you believe that the biggest mistake you can make is not hiring them. The biggest mistake is not being informed. People make mistakes because they either don’t get the right information or because they get the wrong information. This article is advice based on experiences dealing with divorce cases. Things that I talk about here may be common sense, but people do fall into the traps when going through a divorce. I hope that you find the following information useful.

  • Cancel joint credit cards. If your spouse is an authorized user on your credit cards, revoke the authorization. Don’t tell your spouse that you are going to do this. This way, your spouse doesn’t run up big bills before you cancel the credit cards. You don’t want to be stuck with the bills.
  • Don’t make any threats towards your spouse. Don’t do or say anything that can be viewed as a threat. Don’t be angry. Take things as they come. Ending a bad relationship is a part of life.
  • Remove half of the joint account. Take your half of the money and open a new individual account in a different bank. This way, your spouse will not withdraw your part of the money. Tell your spouse that you took your half.
  • Sell property. Sell things you don’t need or can’t afford to keep. Why keep something that has a drain on your budget. Save your money or use it in a better way.
  • Budget. After you separate, you will have one income instead of two. You will have to pay for your own rent, utilities, food, gas, car insurance, and you name it. Decide which expenses you can cut. You can’t cut food and utilities, but you can cut a cable package.
  • Inform yourself about the law. If you are going through a divorce, inform yourself of the law and what rights you have. Prevent the type of problem you may be dealing with from arising in the future. Consult a lawyer to understand what you must do to prevent the problem from happening again.
  • Hire the right San Jose divorce lawyer. Many lawyers know the law and how to be in front of the judge. Many lawyers know what they are doing. But, you can’t effectively work with your lawyer if there is a personality conflict. Your divorce lawyer must be a person you can trust. If there is no trust and rapport, find different lawyer.
  • Follow all court orders.  You earn credibility with the judge. You might never go in front of the judge. But, if you do, your credibility is important.
  • Do what your lawyer tells you. Follow advice. You hired your lawyer for a reason. You trust this person. You trust this person’s judgment and expertise. You are paying this person too.
  • Communicate. It will be very hard to represent you if your lawyer can’t get a hold of you. Provide requested documents. You may not know where all the paperwork is, or you may not want to deal with paperwork. Having the right evidence is like having the right ammunition. It may mean the difference between a win and a loss.
  • Pick your battles. Some things are worth fighting about, and other things are not. Set your goals and objectives early on.
  • Consider reasonable settlement. You might have to pay some money to the other side in a settlement. This is not a bad thing. Sometimes it is best to settle right away. Focus on what moving on with your life.


  • Don’t hide income or assets. People spend a lot of money trying to figure out how to hide income or assets. The assets you may be trying to hide will be discovered. If you are trying to hide income, you may not get what you want. The only things that will get you in trouble in a family case is not telling the truth and non-disclosure.
  • Don’t do anything out of revenge. I don’t help people if revenge is all they want. Revenge also cots a lot of money and you get nothing at the end.
  • Don’t assume that you will get a quick settlement. You may be reasonable. You may want to work things out with your spouse. Your spouse may not be reasonable. Your spouse may not want to work things out. Make sure it the one who is not reasonable is your spouse.
  • Don’t say bad things about your spouse to your children. Whatever happened between you and your spouse, keep your children out of it. If it comes up that you said something bad about your spouse to the children, your spouse will use when custody and visitation come up.
  • Don’t lie to your lawyer. Tell it all how it is, the good and the bad. Provide accurate and truthful information. Disclose all assets and debts. Your lawyer must have the entire picture so that the good facts and the bad facts can be addressed. Bad facts will come up at some point, so dealing with them sooner rather than later is best.
  • Don’t expect immediate results. Things take time. Time may give the other side an incentive to settle. It is also best to take time to get you a better result than try to push things through faster and get you a result that is just OK. Even emergency requests take time. People don’t work fast. At best, an emergency request will take a couple of days to process.
  • Don’t decide with emotions. This is particularly important if you are going through a divorce. You may feel that your spouse is wrong. You and your spouse may want to get back at each other. You may feel that the law is unreasonable or harsh. Our objective is to solve the problem and to keep the costs down. You make the best decisions when you think with your head. Listen to your lawyer and follow advice. People who are not emotionally involved in the problem can advise you best on how to deal with it.
  • Don’t treat the opposing counsel as your enemy. There are times to settle. There are times to stand ground. The best results are achieved when we develop a rapport with the opposing counsel and focus on working out a solution rather than create conflict. If the opposing counsel is a high-conflict person, there are right ways and there are wrong ways to deal with that.

Written by Ekaterina Berman, a San Jose divorce and family immigration lawyer. My goal is to provide experienced and caring representation in family law matters to every client.