Paulette: Marriage is a legally binding contract—it’s a business arrangement. As young girls we have fantasies of the dress, the cake, the ring, the wedding, the honeymoon and getting carried over the threshold and the whole Cinderella complex. But of course, what really should happen when you walk down the aisle is that there should be a priest or a minister or a rabbi or whomever, and an attorney. Someone to say, ‘Just so you know, this is a legally binding business arrangement and everything you do and own is commingled. And if this doesn’t work, it’s going to be trauma…and expensive.’ Not to say that things can’t be mediated—I have many, many cases where that happens, but it takes both parties to cooperate. Divorce is a process, and it is so utterly overwhelming, confusing, expensive and very, very procedural. Once you’ve made the decision, you've really got to get organized, gather your evidence, have a budget and understand lawyer-speak. You have to choose your advocates. You have to document everything. You can’t be blasé. You’ve got to learn to manage your stress, how to communicate with your friends and family. You have to be very knowledgeable about the law and the mental health, financial, real estate aspect of it. But also, there’s the child centered aspect: you’ve got custody, co-parenting, alimony, child support, division of marital assets. Just understanding who is in charge of medical, extracurricular, religion and education is a big-ass deal. And what about the physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, mental aspect of it? It’s a lot and sometimes you’ll take two steps forward, and one step back. I've also seen clients take a step forward and two steps back. It isn’t just, get in the car, put in the GPS of divorce and ready, set, go… it’s not quite that simple. Jessica can elaborate because she’s living it right now!
Jessica: No, it’s really not that simple. The other day I sat with my attorney for three hours going through all my interrogatories and all my answers, because there’s so much paperwork and yes—document, document, document! I can't stress that enough. And thankfully, I’m very wired to naturally do that, whether in my personal life or keeping track of expenses at work. So, for me, this documenting stuff is super easy. But seriously—keep track of everything.