Friends are there for you through thick and thin. They celebrate with you in good times and support you when times get tough. But though your friends may be successful, intelligent, and well-intentioned, their advice about your divorce can be harmful, especially about legal or financial matters.
One of the best pieces of divorce advice you can ever get is this: don’t listen to your friends. Here are five reasons why.
Friends Forget Every Divorce is Different
You are not your friends. You know each other well, and they undoubtedly have your best interests in mind, but your situation is unique. What worked for a divorced friend may not work for you. Don’t make choices during your divorce that could have serious and costly legal or financial consequences down the road. Most of all, don’t take advice that raises or lowers your settlement expectations. It’s an emotional rollercoaster you don’t want to ride. Even if you have a friend who is a legal or financial professional, unless they have specific expertise in asset division or family law, it’s best to talk with an expert.
Friends Don’t Know Everything About Your Situation
No one truly knows what goes on in someone else’s marriage. No matter how close you may be, the only person who knows what you’re going through is you. Friends may know how much you and your spouse make, what your home is worth, or even how much money you have in the bank. But they don’t know how those assets will be distributed in divorce, and more likely than not, they don’t know how to process your financial information legally or objectively. Well-meaning as it may be, a friend’s advice is coming from a different point of view.
Friends Don’t Know the Law
Unless your friends practice family law in California, they don’t know divorce law. Lots of people think they do, but secondhand knowledge or watching Divorce Court is not the same as understanding the actual law. California family law is complicated. You may hear, “it’s a 50/50 state,” but it isn’t that simple. From child support to equitable asset division, every divorce has its own nuances.
Friends are not Objective
Yes, people hire attorneys for their knowledge and expertise, but also for their objectivity. A good family law attorney acts as your advocate and takes an objective view of your situation. Your attorney cares about what you are going through, but is not emotionally involved, something your friends will find difficult to do. Friends just want everything to be okay for you – and that’s a good thing. But it doesn’t get you the best divorce settlement you deserve.
Friends are Worth Keeping
Even the friendliest divorces are stressful and your friends will want to try and smooth things over by sharing stories and giving what they think is helpful advice. But what if that advice turns out to be very bad? How will that affect your friendships? You may be angry that things do not go the way your friends assure you they will. It’s nice to know that friends are on your side, even if they like your spouse! Remember that this is your journey and your experience is different from theirs.
By all means, seek and listen to advice from friends during your divorce and look to them for sympathy and honesty. But be careful about following advice that is often best left to an experienced California family law attorney.