Guestpost #89: Zephyr Hill – Ten Things I’ve Learned From Being a Divorce Attorney

Sad Statue

Zephyr Hill gives some helpful advice for couples going through a divorce. “If you have kids, try and get along. End of story.”

Note: I got this guestpost out of the blue. This info is sometimes sad, but necessary. I’m going to go ahead and say that this isn’t legal advice, just some helpful tips on how not to be a jerk.

  1. The details matter. Often times in a divorce the details can be crucial. Filing documents on time, not missing appointments with parenting evaluators, and showing up to court appearances are important. Surprisingly, it is common for people to overlook these seeming details and the result is an outcome they aren’t happy with.
  2. Expect the best, but plan for the worst. I have heard numerous clients say, “I never thought I would get divorced.” When people are in the throes of love they never imagine the relationship falling apart, but frequently it does —the divorce rate has been hovering around 50 percent for many years. Couples that have prenuptial agreements save themselves money and a lot of emotional pain.
  3. Learn to pick your battles. Fighting nail and tooth over everything can be emotionally exhausting —and expensive. Knowing what really matters and what you are willing to fight for is important in divorce and in life.
  4. Everyone deserves a chance to be heard. People need to be validated, even if you don’t agree with their point of view. I have seen numerous opposing parties not get what they wanted, but they walked away satisfied with the outcome because they had an opportunity to have their voice heard. People just want someone to listen to them.
  5. Learning to manage your emotions is an important life skill. Divorce, especially high conflict divorce, is ripe with heated emotions. The people that dissolve their marriages with the least amount of emotional trauma are the ones that have learned to manage their emotions. It is important to distinguish between managing emotions and suppressing them. People that successfully manage their emotions acknowledge what they are feeling and find constructive ways to express those emotions.
  6. People are good at getting in their own way. I have seen more than one client sabotage themselves. As an attorney, I always advise my clients on the best course of action; unfortunately not everyone chooses to follow advice they are given— sometimes to the detriment of their case.
  7. Kids always want their parents to get along. If you have kids, try and get along. End of story.
  8. Going to trial is expensive. There is no way around this, trials can be unpredictable and lengthy —the result is never inexpensive.
  9. Even if you do everything right, things don’t always go as planned. You can have all the facts in your favor, filled all the right motions, paid attention to the details, covered all your bases, and the judgment delivered isn’t what you expected. While this doesn’t happen often, it is a good reminder that being adaptable is often your best defense when things don’t go as planned.
  10. Good manners are important. The legal community is smaller than you might expect. We frequently see the same judges, opposing counsel, and clerks, over and over again. Being nice and having good manners is important —unless your objective is to build a reputation as a tact-less jerk.

Bio and Legal Things:

Zephyr Hill has been practicing law for more than 14 years and is the managing attorney at the family law firm of Goldberg Jones in San Diego, California. Goldberg Jones is a family law practice solely focused on child custody and divorce. An experienced lawyer, Zephyr is dedicated to protecting the custody rights of fathers with compassion and intelligent advocacy. You can read more about family law issues on the Goldberg Jones blog: http://www.goldbergjones-sandiego.com/

Goldberg Jones 3111 Camin Del Rio N Ste 950, San Diego, CA, (619)243-0888

— Photo Alex E. Proimos/Flickr

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About Josh Bowman

Josh Bowman is a professional fundraiser, story-teller, comedian, and blogger. He has worked and consulted in Vancouver, New York, and now Toronto for almost a decade. Josh improvises around Toronto, including regular shows with Opening Night Theatre, and also blogs for the Huffington Post. You can email Josh or follow him on Twitter. If you want to submit a guestpost or know more about Josh, check this post and this post out first.

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