I find that many of my potential (and current) clients are caught completely off guard when having to deal with the financial realities of divorce. Below is a very brief list of items that are crucial to keep in mind when going through this tough time:
1. You may have to get a job, for the first time in many years. I know it's not fair and not right, given that you gave up years of your life to raise the children and/or support your spouse in his or her career, and now you're way behind the eight ball. However, it is a reality. Perhaps some additional schooling and/or training is needed to get yourself up to speed. This can be used as a negotiating tool.
2. You have to know, or find out, all of the assets that you have with your spouse, both individually and jointly. How can you possibly negotiate intelligently without knowing what you are truly negotiating over.
3. You may be responsible for your spouse's credit card debt. I know it's not fair that your spouse had an out-of-control obsession with buying all manner of goods and that you were the one who didn't buy yourself anything. Even a property settlement agreement in which your spouse agrees to pay their own credit card debt can be freely ignored by creditors.
4. Counsel fees are rarely granted. It does not always matter that you do not have an income or that your spouse is purposely running up legal fees; in the end you may still have to pay your attorney's entire bill, unless your spouse agrees to pay some of it.
5. Everything can be settled out of court. Yes, everything. Divorce, custody, child support, alimony and division of property can all be settled out of court by experienced and competent attorneys. Don't think that you have to automatically argue everything in front of a judge. Don't forget to also consider alternatives such as collaborative law, arbitration or mediation.