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Episode 53 - Prioritizing Your Divorce - Why You Should and How to Do It

Episode 53 - Prioritizing Your Divorce - Why You Should and How to Do It Image

11/20/2018 9:01 am

Despite all the latest and greatest inventions, our lives feel busier than ever. Unfortunately, going through a divorce only adds more to do items to your list. A serious problem arises, however, when you allow that busyness to rule your day. The work that needs to be done in the divorce starts to fall to the wayside until a serious deadline is upon you. A deadline that can have a serious financial impact on you. In this show, we share our experience with divorce litigation and why it is so important to prioritize the divorce deadlines. We discuss what it looks like to make your divorce a priority and review some practical tips that can make the divorce process a little less painful.

Transcript

Speaker 1:           What do you mean the deadline to file my affidavit has passed? The case is gonna have to be continued? But I need support. I know sent me the financial affidavit a month ago, but I didn't realize how much information I need to put in there. I wish you'd told me. What do you mean you told me? Oh, it was in the memo that was attached to the email. Okay, what do we do now?

Todd:                    There are so many times we wanna help someone get temporary relief through settlement discussions or in a courtroom. But the person we're trying to help just seems to shoot themselves in the foot. They do not get their information together in a timely manner and the case just gets pushed back, postponed and that's not to mention the other potential negative impacts that the delays can have on the case.

Leh:                       That's right and unfortunately we see things like this too frequently. And you know that's partly why we decided to dedicate our whole show to talk about why someone should prioritize their divorce and how they can do it.

Leh:                       Hey welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp. And you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law and even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level or save your marriage, if it's in the middle of a crisis. Every week, Todd and I share our experiences and knowledge to help people navigate challenging times in their marriage, their life and with their family. If you wanna learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

Todd:                    All right well, bottom line prioritizing, I think a good place to start is what do you mean? You say prioritizing a divorce, what are you talking about?

Leh:                       I think what we're trying to say is, it is so important to make this a priority and priority meaning you may have to make changes in your life, at least on a temporary basis in order to deal with this divorce action. Because it is so critical. You know there's a lot of times where you get into situations where the whole reason you're getting a divorce is because you weren't prioritizing your marriage. I'm gonna be careful here that I'm not trying to be judgemental, but we're just letting people know the natural consequences of what we've seen.

Leh:                       You know that's one of the benefits. I think my marriage I know has gotten stronger from doing divorce law, as crazy as that sounds and as ironic as that is. Because I've seen how when people don't prioritize their marriage, they wind up with a divorce. But then you have the problem where sometimes people don't prioritize getting through the divorce process either-

Todd:                    And that can have horrible consequences on the cases.

Leh:                       Horrible consequences. So I think what we need to do is let's give everyone a quick road map of where we're gonna go today 'cause I think first thing we need to talk about why. Why is this so important to prioritize their divorce. Because we want people to understand the mental barriers or pitfalls or huddles that they may run into during a divorce case so that they can navigate around them and not have them be pitfall or potholes. And then after that, what need to do is talk about what it really looks like to have your divorce prioritized. Then at the end of the show, we're gonna share some really good practical tips so that you can help prioritize your divorce. Or similar family law matter, maybe it's a legitimation case or similar type of case.

Todd:                    All right, so let's jump in. Let's start with the why. Okay, 'cause really what we're talking about is the why, the what and the how? So let's start with why. Why should people care about this Leh? I mean isn't that why people hire attorneys so that the attorney can keep things on track and do everything and get you through the process?

Leh:                       Sometimes I wish we could do everything. That would make our lives easier but that's a great place to start. Because some people do feel that like, "Hey, look I'm hiring a lawyer to help me through the divorce process. Why can't he or she take care of everything?" And you know it's just not that simple. I think we can boil it down to about seven different reasons. Why you can't just hand your life over to your lawyer and expect everything to come out rosy.

Todd:                    Well without there being some work by you. Without there being some involvement, without there being some cooperation, and commitment to the process. Because if you just say, "Not my problem anymore. I gave you some money, you're my attorney, do your attorney thing-"

Leh:                       "Take care of it."

Todd:                    Yeah, "Take care of it." Then unfortunately the attorney is gonna be looking at you going, "Well, okay, but I need your help. I need to gather information, I need to do X, Y, Z and without that help, I can't do my job."

Leh:                       So first thing that you've hit it right there. You're the expert on your life, not your lawyer. Your lawyer's not a mind reader. He or she, like for instance if you got children, they don't know what your schedule is, or your child, or children's schedule is. They don't know what way you really wanna have a parenting plan. Like, "What do you envision your life being like after the divorce dealing your husband or wife in the context of dealing with kids and where they're gonna be." And unless you tell them, he doesn't know what your monthly expenses are. So-

Todd:                    Divorces are all about evidence.

Leh:                       Right.

Todd:                    And if we don't have the evidence necessary to make the points and to argue certain issues then we can't argue for those things, because we don't have the evidence to prove it. If you go into court and all you have is your word and the other side has a ton of documents and information and evidence, they win.

Todd:                    So the one thing that we as practitioners don't have, is automatic access to everything that you know, everything that you have possession of, well everything that you maybe don't have immediate possession of. But let's say bank accounts where you don't have the hard copies, you can get us those copies because they're your accounts. You know the accounts are yours, you know those documents exist.

Leh:                       And I think you made a good point a minute ago when you said, "We can't argue." Well, all we can do is argue, we can't testify. So what I mean by that is when you're ... this is assuming we can't settle, but we can't advocate for a position without you. So you have to be the one to get on the stand in a court room to testify, to give the evidence to the judge to make a decision. What we say is just argument, it's not facts from which the judge makes a ruling.

Todd:                    Yeah. If I stand up and I argue to the court, "The marriage is broken." The court will look at us and say, "I need to hear that from your client. Your client needs to take the stand and under oath state that the marriage is broken." Because then it goes from being argument to actual evidence, testimony by that party. So all we do like you said, is argue, all right. And that's not in the general sense of the word, "We're just being argumentative." But we can offer argument but it has to based on evidence and you the client are going to have access to that information.

Leh:                       So but you bring us into another good point. And this is another item is, by prioritizing your divorce, you increase your chances of settlement in your case. We're big advocates, we're resolution focused, we'd rather resolve your case than litigate it, but we can't do that without information.

Todd:                    You know how many times we see? And I know I'm speaking for both of us. Where we see a situation where we have asked for documents and weeks go by, months go by, letters are written to opposing counsel, "Please give it to us, please get us these documents, please get us these documents." And our client is just waiting in the wings going, "I wanna be done with this, I wanna settle." And all we can do is say, "We're trying to get that information, they won't give it to us." So it is postponing the settlement of the case.

Leh:                       And so another thing that helps is that, like when we try to be proactive with our clients. If you come in, if you gather all the evidence, so if the lawyer says, "Here's the things I need." And you prioritize this and get your lawyer all those items, all those financial records, it allows us to put together a settlement agreement very quickly or much quicker, I should say that we can present to the other side.

Leh:                       And nothing's more powerful to say, "Here's our settlement proposal. And by the way I think your client doesn't have access to these records. Here's copies of all the accounts, banks accounts and all that stuff for you to look at, to consider whether this offer is fair." And that really increases the chances of settlement.

Todd:                    Alright right. Let's hit a couple of these remaining ones quickly 'cause I know we're gonna be heading towards a break. It helps your lawyer to be prepared for whatever comes his or her way. Again, knowledge is power and so we have to be ready to counter whatever is stated or whatever evidence is presented by the other side. If you don't work with the attorney by prioritizing your divorce, they won't have that information.

Leh:                       Right. It helps to reduce your stress, because sometimes avoiding and saying, "Well, I'll get you that stuff later, I'll get you that stuff later, I'll get you that stuff later."

Todd:                    And then it's crunch time and the hearing is two days away, and your attorney is pounding on your door not literally saying, "I need it because I can't prove what we need to prove."

Leh:                       Right. And so the other thing is it helps reduce your lawyer's stress by getting those documents ahead of time.

Todd:                    Which we appreciate.

Leh:                       Yes, so that we can do a better job.

Todd:                    And that will save you money.

Leh:                       Absolutely.

Todd:                    That's the last one. Because the more we have to scramble, the more we have to act-

Leh:                       Chase someone down.

Todd:                    Then the more it's going to cost you. And I know it's our business, but I mean it when I say and I know you believe this also. We wanna get people through this process as efficiently as possible, and so we only want to ask once. We want a client to work with us, give us what we need so that we can quickly get us to a point where we can settle.

Leh:                       Yeah. I know we're right up on a break, but I'll give one quick example and then you all definitely wanna come back 'cause we're gonna get into what you could do to increase your chances of resolving your case rather than litigating it by prioritizing it. But I've been asking a client for weeks to get his financial records for a temporary hearing, it took him forever. Literally our paralegal left for the day and he finally emailed the documents at 6:00 in the evening. And our lawyer billed out a $300 an hour to process the documents,.  If he gotten the documents to us earlier, the paralegal would have done it $150 an hour.

Todd:                    Yup, so prioritize divorce and we'll be right back.

Speaker 2:           Is there anyway to get a continuance? I'm just not ready. I had tickets to the ball game yesterday and that took up all my Sunday. And I just had to go see the Georgia-Florida game on Saturday. And then I had to mow my loan. I mean what else do you need from me, why did she need all those documents for one hearing, why won't she just agree to postpone it.

Todd:                    What you just heard is a struggle we sometimes have in our divorce cases. Life has gotten in the way of doing the work that's necessary to have a successful outcome in your divorce or similar family law case.

Leh:                       Yes indeed. And hey, before we jump back in I just wanted to say welcome back to Meriwether & Tharp Radio. I'm Leh Meriwether, and with me is Todd Orston. We're partners at law firm at Meriwether & Tharp, a law firm dedicated to helping people through difficult times. If you wanna learn more about us, you can always visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

Leh:                       And today we're talking about prioritizing your divorce. In the last segment we talked about why it's so important. And now we're gonna kind of break down really why people don't tend to do it. And so we're gonna talk about those emotional huddles and obstacles to prioritizing your divorce so that you can recognize it, and then we can develop a plan to work around it.

Todd:                    Yeah, the hope is that by explaining what you see, you can map out Your life around your case so that you don't fall prey to the pitfalls that we're talking about. And to do that we have five specific points that we wanna get to.

Leh:                       So you know I do wanna share this. I had a client make a comment after we finished her divorce. And she said, "If I had spent as much time and money on my marriage as I did on my divorce, I probably would not have gotten a divorce." And so I'm not trying to say ... again I wanna make clear, we're not trying to be judgemental I think. But this is a comment from a client that wished she had put in the time and money and energy before, so she didn't wind up getting a divorce.

Todd:                    Well, going away from the work that it takes to make a relationship work, I'm just gonna focus on the divorce. It will take work for you to properly manage your divorce case, and so if you put in the time and if you put in the effort, hopefully you're gonna get a good outcome. If you don't, not only might you not get a good outcome, but you'll spend a lot more time and a lot more effort and a lot more money to get to that same place simply because you weren't capable of spending the time necessary to do things efficiently.

Leh:                       Right, upfront 'cause a lot of times if you procrastinate, you wind up spending more time because you procrastinated. More stressful time for that matter. All right so let's talk about some five points . As far as it goes dealing with the things that get in the way because if people did prioritize their divorce, we wouldn't be having a show really. So let's hit number one, so life gets in the way. That's often the reason.

Todd:                    And it's always gonna be the case because I can tell you right now even if you're not going through a divorce, I know that on any given day, I have a number of items on my plate, and it is extremely easy and I hope my wife is not listening. It is extremely easy-

Leh:                       Wait, I'm gonna tell her.

Todd:                    ... for me ... no you do not text her, put your phone down, step away from the phone.

Leh:                       I was just hitting record.

Todd:                    Sure. But it is so easy for me to say, "Oh yeah, I have this to do, and I have that to do but I also have 5 or 10 other things," and you don't get to some of the things and some of those things are really important.

Leh:                       Right and so we let our days and weeks happen to us rather than us being intentional and deciding what we're gonna do each day.

Todd:                    And we've talked about that because we talk about that not only with clients but with people that work at Meriwether & Tharp because being intentional in how you manage your time and manage your day is incredibly powerful. You can get so much more out of the day by being that way. And the same thing goes for somebody going through this process then you'll be able to control the outcome of whatever it is you're doing.

Leh:                       At least control what's in your scope of control. That's one of the things, you're right, we actually teach this to our own lawyers inside the firm we work on this. So I'm not trying to be preachy, we walk this walk that's what we're saying. So here is the second reason, you think you have time tomorrow to get to it.

Todd:                    Procrastination-

Leh:                       It's your day job.

Todd:                    It's like that ... I don't know the exact saying but why do today what you can do tomorrow. It is the definition of procrastination. And procrastination is a case killer, it really is because then we are up against timelines and deadlines. And all we needed was for there to be some prioritization given to the task that needed to be accomplished. And so if we get that help, if we get that from our clients, fantastic. It streamlines the process.

Leh:                       Yeah another thing there is sometimes you're, "oh, I can get to this tomorrow." And so let's say there's an email, "No, I'll get to this tomorrow." Next thing you know tomorrow's Saturday, and your lawyer's office is closed on Saturday and so you open up the email you're supposed to get to. And you start reading about what you're supposed to do and you're like, "Oh, I have all kinds of questions, I don't understand what this means. I'm I supposed to do this, I'm I supposed to this?"

Leh:                       And so if you'd not put it off and read it on Friday morning and called the lawyer on Friday, and the lawyer said, "Oh, no, no focus on these things here." Your one or two hour project or homework over the weekend suddenly took up your whole weekend. You were panicked, you were canceling things you were scheduled so don't put it off tomorrow.

Todd:                    No and you know what, very quickly. If all we were talking about was putting it off until tomorrow, I might not have that much of a problem, but that's not what usually we're dealing with. Usually tomorrow becomes the next day, becomes the next week, becomes a month or two months or three months later and that's when the problems start to arise so prioritizing means make things a priority. That means putting it ahead perhaps of some other things because you know how incredibly important it is that you get those things done.

Leh:                       So here's the third reason why some people tend to not prioritize their divorce. I mean  we all do this so, again I'm not trying to be judgemental. But you let life get in the way during the course of your marriage and so you're not necessarily organized. And now in a divorce case, you've gotta do what's called the Domestic Relations Financial Affidavit, and I'm pretty sure that's the same across the states, that you've gotta do a financial affidavit stating your income and your assets and your liabilities and what bills you pay. Well if you're not organized, that takes for ever. And so that's another reason people don't tend to do it because they didn't have their life organized during their marriage, and so organizing in the divorce is such a pain in the butt.

Todd:                    Absolutely.

Leh:                       Sometimes people ignore things like schooling for the children, where are we gonna have the children live during the school year and everything, so they just don't think about it.

Todd:                    Yeah, these are all issues, okay. How about maintaining two households, now somebody is staring down the barrel of, "I don't know where I'm gonna live, I don't know what kind of a house I can afford." And all of these things are hitting somebody at the same time and then procrastination becomes easy. And what we are trying to convey is that as easy as it might be, don't do it. You must keep your eye on the bouncing ball, you must maintain a focus.

Leh:                       When you say, "Don't do it," don't wait.

Todd:                    Meaning don't wait, don't procrastinate. Make sure that you're prioritizing the things that need to get done in the divorce case, and by doing that hopefully things are easier and maybe the outcome is better than had you not prioritized things.

Leh:                       So the number four is too many times, people think their lawyer will take care of it. And so like we said before, well at least when the case starts, we're not an expert on your life, you're the best expert on your own life.

Todd:                    And on top of that you control the facts, we don't make up the facts. You have to tell us things, you have to provide us documents. So as much as we will do for you, we need your help. If you delay in getting us  that information that we need and we can't do our jobs.

Leh:                       Right, and so another thing it does is it creates anxiety. So if you get behind on everything and the further you get behind, the greater anxiety it is and so you tend to push it off 'cause you get anxious about sitting down to do it and you're like, "I don't have time for this." And it goes back to that-

Todd:                    It is that Ostrich Syndrome right? You stick your head in the sand, it's so much, there's so much pressure, I don't know where to start, head in the sand and unfortunately that's how bad things happen. All right, and we again can't dodge them.

Leh:                       And the flip side of the anxiety is that sometimes it's a harsh reminder that your marriage is over and there's a new chapter your life that's getting ready to begin. So people will tend to not prioritize their divorce and the work they need to do in their divorce, because they are afraid of confronting what this means.  And speaking of what this .. .We are running out of time-

Todd:                    A harsh reality and confronting what it means.

Leh:                       The harsh reality is that we are up against another break, hey, but don't go away, because when we come back we are gonna get into what does it look like when you make your divorce a priority? When you do that, what are some of the practical things you can do? And you'll be surprised some of the simple recommendations we're gonna give. And then what are some practical tips to get more organized so I can have some level of peace about this process? Stay tuned to find out more.

Speaker 1:           Dinner with friends, work on the divorce, dinner with friends, work on the divorce, I'll get to the discovery request tomorrow. Oh wait, tomorrow is the football tailgate. You know what, my husband and his attorney can wait, I'll get to this when I get to it.

Leh:                       Welcome back to Meriweather & Tharp Radio, if you are just tuning in to the show, welcome, I'm Leh Meriweather and with me is Todd Orston. We are partners at the law firm of Meriweather & Tharp. In this show we share our experiences and knowledge to help people navigate challenging times in their marriage and their family. If you wanna learn more about us you can always visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

Leh:                       Well what we've been talking about this show is making your divorce a priority and what does that look like? And we talked about why that's so important. We've given some examples of what's happened to people when they didn't make their divorce a priority. We talked about why does this happen, why do people not make it a priority, what kind of challenges do they have that creates a situation? And we've explored that. Now we are gonna talk about what it might look like when you do make your divorce a priority?

Leh:                       Talk about some of the practical things and I guess some examples that we've seen, some more examples where someone didn't do these things that caused massive problems in their case.

Todd:                    So on a big scale, on a macro scale how about time as a topic of consideration or for consideration, prioritizing means that there's always so much time in the day, so that means you have to be very deliberate in how you use that time.

Leh:                       So what's most important?

Todd:                    That's right.

Leh:                       So you may need to make choices and cut things out of your life on a temporary basis and let me just make that clear, cut somethings out of your life on a temporary basis and so I've got two good examples.

Leh:                       So here's one, tennis, and I'm probably gonna make some people mad here, but I had a case where the woman did not wanna give up her tennis and so she literally went on, I mean got herself in major hot water with the judge, I won't say what happened, but basically she said, "I can't make it to court, I've got a complication." But turned out she had a tennis match she wanted to go to that day and when the court found out that that was the reason she didn't show up to court, she got hammered by the judge, hammered.

Leh:                       So you've got to prioritize. So that means, hey, if tennis is gonna be a distraction for you, on a temporary basis, maybe you just need to not be on the team this year. And now prioritizing may mean that by playing tennis, and I actually had a case where it was golf. And the husband played golf every single weekend and four hour period of time that they are gone, sometimes it involved drinking of some beer. And the conversation then becomes, hey, that may not look good because at the very least, it's taking you away from the kids. So it looks to the court like you are prioritizing golf over parenting.

Todd:                    And so please as much as you love the game, I get it, I understand, but you need to stop playing as often as you do and start showing the court that your kids are your priority, this case is your priority.

Leh:                       It's so funny 'cause even that example you just gave with the golf, I've had a very similar situation with golf. And in this situation I represented the wife and the husband played every weekend. And then he tried to claim he was having trouble paying child support and alimony. So, well, I had so much fun with that cross examination, so, it was very entertaining.

Todd:                    Every once in a while you get a fact pattern, you get an an argument that it's sort of like [T ball 00:25:47], it's easy to deal with, but we do enjoy it. But yeah, you need to prioritize, you need to make sure that your behavior is not having a negative impact on your case. In that situation, it's not so much in preparation of your case, it is that you are just prioritizing other things in your life, not curving those things out. And that takes you away from your kids and that's gonna be seen and recognized by the court.

Leh:                       So there's another thing riding along there. Sometimes people don't do it, because there's this it's a form of fear of missing out and "Oh, I don't wanna miss out on this thing," or, "I don't wanna miss out on that." Or they go to an event that they shouldn't go to and they happen to be seen at that event and there's some woman that puts her arms around the guy, a private investigator happens to be there and snaps that photo. It's that fear of missing out, where they get all wrapped up in the moment when they didn't realize that that moment can cost them a lot of money in their divorce. It can cost them money in the way of that example I gave of the photograph.

Leh:                       And it turned out that woman was just intoxicated, and she grabbed the guy and he had nothing to do with it, but that photo certainly became the source of so much fighting in the case. And despite our best efforts to resolve the case, it drove the other person, they couldn't let it go and it just drove it to continue fight.

Leh:                       So if they had chosen to prioritize their divorce, not put them in situations that could be taken the wrong way, well then we wouldn't have had that they wouldn't spend all that money and open the door to potentially pay more alimony or get dinged in what's called equitable division when we divide the marital estate. So those are the things to keep in mind.

Todd:                    And what always amazes me is how many times we actually see some of these things coming, advice the clients against a certain type of behavior and unfortunately our advise is not taken and it does have the impact that we described. And it does have the impact that we described and so when we talk about these things it's because we handle these cases all the time, have handled more cases that we can even count at this point.

Todd:                    And the same thing goes for all the attorneys at our firm and so when we talk about it, it's because we've seen the negative impact, we've seen the judge come down on a party because they didn't prioritize the divorce and their family over other social activities to their detriment.

Leh:                       And so here's another thing of what it looks like to make your divorce a priority. Rather than watching TV at night, actually sit down and read the emails your lawyer sent you. Because we've had situations where the client had four emails from our office that all mentioned the mediation was being scheduled. And so the mediation does get scheduled, and then the client's like, "Why are we going to mediation? Why are we scheduling mediation?" "But you haven't been reading the emails for the last two months?" But they could tell us who got kicked off the island the other day if-

Leh:                       Is that show still on?

Todd:                    You make one more joke like that I'm gonna kick you off the island.

Leh:                       But I mean they can tell you what happened in the shows.

Todd:                    But may be you're 100% right and again-

Leh:                       But they never read our emails.

Todd:                    Yeah, we see that all the time, simple things, somethings are gonna be complex. I need bank records, I need retirement statements, I need other evidence [crosstalk 00:29:15] whatever-

Leh:                       You are a needy guy.

Todd:                    I am needy I'm only getting started and then there's the easy stuff, just look at your emails and I can't tell you how many times we run into that problem. Even sometimes it's a client who's frustrated, "I didn't know that you needed X, Y, Z," And then you say, "Well, if you would, take a look at the email of May 10 April 17 and March 31st that all said the same thing asking for whatever it is that we are seeking.

Todd:                    And then that frustration turns into a little bit of an embarrassment and maybe even a little bit of panic, because now we've waited so long and we're scrambling, excuse me to ... I'm getting all choked up, as we're scrambling it to gather the information we need.

Leh:                       So, another thing is plan out your time, at least a week in advance, preferably a month, take time, take advantage of time slots, so, when I say that ... so, a lot of times, there's discussions about who's gonna have the children on what weekend if there's children involved, okay? And so, children take up a lot of time.

Leh:                       So, if you know that the children are gonna be with their mother or their father on a certain day, plan that day. Do not plan to do anything else, plan to spend that day working on whether it's a domestic relations financial affidavit, gathering the documents that Todd needs so badly or getting together, "Hey, this is kind of parenting plan I would like to see."

Todd:                    Look at that, look in advance, prioritize, be intentional with your week and your month and take advantage of the times when the children are with the other parent. Be goal oriented, another is set goals, and I mean many goals within the case, I will get the bank records by this date, I will set this time aside to go through my finances and accomplish this goal or that goal. Be goal oriented and you will accomplish a lot and that's gonna help you in the long run.

Leh:                       And so, another example may not necessarily be time when it comes to making your divorce a priority, it's money. Sometimes you've gotta tighten up your budget a little bit, like when we talked about that golf example. During this time, you may not wanna be playing golf 'cause you may make a lot of money but one of the questions is outflow. So, we've seen so many people that they ... we've heard clients of all income levels and we've seen people make $50,000 but they were some how managing to spend $51,000 a month.

Leh:                       And then they had trouble paying their lawyer because they couldn't cut back on anything. So, you've got to prioritize the expenses when you're in the middle of divorce.

Todd:                    Which are gonna change, you go from a two income potentially or at least two people under one roof to now maintaining two separate homes.

Leh:                       And so, expense that becomes. So, you've got to budget out your week when it comes to money, and speaking of budgeting, we've gotta budget for time because we've run out of time again. Hey, but don't go away, when we come back, we're gonna give you some more practical tips so that you don't have to allow the craziness of life to take over. And you can focus on your divorce to transition to a new season of life, stay tuned to find out more.

Leh:                       Welcome back to Meriweather & Tharp Radio. If you're just tuning in, I'm Leh Meriweather and with me is Todd Orston. We are partners at the law firm at Meriweather & Tharp and you're listening to Meriweather & Tharp Radio. In this show, we share our experiences and knowledge to help people navigate challenging times in their marriage and with their family. If you wanna learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

Leh:                       Now, today we've been talking about making your divorce a priority. And we talked about what that means and why it's so important. We've given you some examples of people that didn't make it a priority when it comes to their time and how that was used against them. How not making it a priority caused the case to go to trial instead of being settled or how to cause a case to cost more money 'cause we couldn't settle it quickly.

Leh:                       We've given examples of how not prioritizing in the forms of money, creating a new budget, how that created a problem throughout the course of the case and it caused ... I'm having trouble talking-

Todd:                    Yeah, but [ibbidy habidy 00:33:42].

Leh:                       In prioritizing things so that it helps you get through this process. The purpose of this show is to improve the process, we can't make the process a happy process, but we always will strive to get you through it as efficiently as we can with the least amount of harm. The harm I'm talking about is when you don't prioritize the divorce and if both parties aren't prioritizing the divorce, it opens the door to more conflict. And especially if you are parents, you have children, you are gonna be in each other's lives for years, and this failure to actually prioritize the divorce is only gonna create a bigger rift between you and the other parent.

Leh:                       So, we want to try and avoid it, and to do that, let's use this segment to talk about practical tips on how to make a divorce a priority.

Leh:                       And I wanna point out here, some people do make it a priority but they don't really know quite how to do it or what ... so, we're abour to share some really simple tricks and tips that they can use to help them really make it a priority 'cause some people really try but they have difficulty.

Todd:                    It will help you accomplish your goals and hopefully save you time, money and effort.

Leh:                       Exactly. So, here is a quick tip. Most smartphones allow you to create an email address that has a high priority. Now, in my email on my phone, I have turned off notifications, 'cause otherwise there will be ding every 20, 30 seconds, I get so many emails, but I can do if I'm waiting for a specific email from someone, I can turn on a priority. And so, you can set that in most smartphones, so that if an email comes in from your lawyer's office, it will set a ding so that you know to check that email.

Todd:                    And actually on my phone, I have because I have a few of those set up on my phone. I actually at the top of the screen. It has almost like a separate heading for those emails so that I'll get the ding and then boom, I'll see that it's populated with one new email and I know to go in there and check.

Leh:                       What kind of phone do you have?

Todd:                    I've got a Google.

Leh:                       So, I've got a iPhone, they both do ... just do it slightly different-

Todd:                    And you know this is not a commercial for either phone-

Leh:                       Either phone, we're just pointing out that hey look, this is something you can do if wanna prioritize your case and help your ... be responsive to your lawyer and everything. This is a little tip, trick to use to help make that happen.

Todd:                    That's right.

Leh:                       Here's another thing, don't wait till the last minute to read the email. Here's why, first off, you may not understand the instructions that we send. We do our best to try to speak as plainly as we can, but still when you practice family law for years, you start to make assumptions sometimes. You assume the other person understands what you're saying or are part of the process.

Leh:                       In fact, we had a client that was extremely intelligent, and during the course of the case, an issue came up and she got upset and we didn't understand why she got upset. So, we pulled back and were like, "We had a big meeting about two months ago where we went through these things, and you checked off this box that you understood." And she was like, "Well, yeah, I didn't really understand. I was too embarrassed to say that I didn't understand it, 'cause I didn't want you to think I was stupid." And we were like, "Oh, gosh."

Leh:                       So, it's important to read it, there are no questions that are too stupid, and if we didn't cover it, it's 'cause we made an assumption that was bad on our part. So, don't wait till last minute to real the email, don't read it on the weekend when your lawyer's office is closed.

Todd:                    I always tell my kids, "There is no such thing as a dumb question except for the really dumb ones." My kids are smart, but some of those questions are just amazing.

Todd:                    No, but you're right, and look, by procrastinating, not reading, understand there are things that might take a month for you to accomplish. And if you don't open up that email for a month, then that task that was set forth in that email is now a two month long task rather than a one month long task. So, the one thing we always tell people is, the things that happen in family law, it's not a quick process. Things take time, it takes time to organize, to gather information. So, the sooner you read the email and understand what's being asked of you, the sooner you can act on it and get it done.

Leh:                       So, that leads me into point two. So, use your calendar on your smartphone or your computer, whatever it is to put a reminder about those deadlines. So, something that may take you a month or maybe the deadline is in a month and you don't wanna wait till the 29th day when it's due on the 30th. So, put a reminder two weeks out of getting a notice from your lawyer, like discovery is a good example. Put it on there and then add to it 'cause most of the phones can allow you to do an event reminder. One week out, have it remind it, two days out, have it remind you so that you don't forget to take care of this really important task, so that you can get the information to your lawyer so they can help.

Todd:                    Well, be deliberate. It's all about not just allowing the divorce to happen to you, you have to happen to that the divorce, you have to jump in. You have to be involved and if you're really truly gonna be involved, then when you set something on your calendar, don't just set it on the calendar and say, "Well, that's good enough."

Todd:                    There are things, there are tools on your smartphone, on your computer, that you can use to make sure you are reminded and that way you can prioritize the tasks at hand.

Leh:                       Right, and so, following up on that one particular item, don't wait, if you get the email from your lawyer that has a deadline in it, don't say, "Oh, I'll put the deadline in later." 'Cause what happens is everybody's email box gets so filled up, that email gets buried. So, when you have the email opened, put the deadline on your calendar right then and there. 'Cause if you don't, you're gonna forget about it, so, that's one.

Leh:                       The next one is, some people, I'm one of them, in order to avoid procrastinating, I create a hard deadline. I schedule something with somebody so that I know that I'm not gonna ... especially if I'm paying for it, if I show up to that meeting, I'm gonna make sure that's gonna be the most productive meeting possible. So, if you get something from a lawyer or a paralegal working on your case, then schedule an appointment to meet with them to go over, like if discovery's a good example.

Leh:                       And then that way when you get there, you don't wanna be wasting hundreds of dollars an hour, you wanna make sure boom, you get to it and you get effectively.

Todd:                    Yeah, there are some people who they just like to wait to the last minute. Sometimes that's me. If my wife were on the phone, she would say that's quite often me, but when you're under the gun, the creative juices start to flow, okay. The problem is, if you're waiting until the last minute, then you're giving your attorney until the last second to do what needs to be done.

Todd:                    So, you have to think beyond you and your involvement. You have to think that this is a team and if you are the weak link, as good as your attorney may be, may not be able to get it done in time or, we keep repeating this, it's gonna cost you two or three times as much because there's a lot of scrambling going on, after hours working-

Todd:                    And some times it's the lawyers scrambling instead of the paralegal doing it, which in the lawyers two, three times is expensive as a paralegal.

Leh:                       So, speaking of the documents, organizing your documents. Sometimes I say, I prefer organizing in the cloud, you can use Dropbox, Evernote, iCloud, Google Drive. So, sometimes you need to look at another document in order to answer questions from your lawyer. But if you don't have the documents on hand, then you're gonna spend time chasing around.

Leh:                       So, as you gather important documents, save them somewhere. Now Dropbox and Evernote I think now have two form of authentication so that it can be secure. The neat thing about Evernote for example, and I think Dropbox just set this up, so, you get an email from your lawyer that you wanna be able to forward to that document later, don't let it sit in your inbox. Forward it to your Evernote account so it's there. And so, you can organize your divorce and all your stuff in a Dropbox or an Evernote or something like that.

Todd:                    And I know it's gonna take time. If you're not familiar with those programs, it will take time to understand it. The thing is once you understand it, they become invaluable tools that will help you stay organized, prioritized and get things done.

Leh:                       And so, speaking of prioritizing-

Todd:                    We have so much more to talk about but-

Leh:                       But we are running out of time, but hey, this has been a great show, I think we've covered a lot of information. And you know, if you have more questions for us, or would you like to know more tips and tricks, you can always email at us at [email protected] If you wanna hear some of these tips and tricks again, then you can check us out online on our website at atlantadivorceteam.com.

Leh:                       And you can also find us in iTunes, 'cause we're gonna be replaying the show in iTunes, and it shows up as Divorce Team Radio. You can look at that iTunes or Meriweather & Tharp. We will show up either way and you can download the show and listen to it.

Leh:                       You know one thing, if you do download it and you get a lot out of it, do us a favor and write us and give us a five star review, we'd really appreciate. Well-

Todd:                    Very much.

Leh:                       Very much, thanks so much for listening.

Todd:                    Thanks everyone.