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My first draft of this article consisted of a list of do-nots for divorcing spouses: Do not minimize the value of professional counseling. Do not give in to spite when considering the best interests of your child. Do not put your faith in pie-in-the-sky promises by an attorney for legal results, etc.

Upon reflection, I decided to write a few paragraphs about a positive approach to dissolving a marriage and offer a few suggestions, which may help to ease the transition.

Unfortunately, divorce is a frequent high stress component of modern life. The divorce process often brings out the worst in people. Preferably, you should consult with one or more attorneys well in advance of initiating the divorce process. Prior to consulting with an attorney, you should also do on-line homework about issues which concern you, such as maintenance, child support, custody and the distribution of marital property.

Real estate agents speak of a guiding principle in valuing property – location, location, location. The guiding principle in achieving a so-called “good divorce” is clear communication between you and your spouse. Good communication may make it possible to avoid the financial and emotional consequences of a bitterly contested divorce. The manner and extent of communication between opposing lawyers is also very important in assisting you through the divorce process, as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Money and property disputes are at the heart of the dissolution of many marriages. In preparing for divorce, you should prepare a budget (present and anticipated needs) which lists approximate values (if known) of assets acquired prior to and during the marriage, including assets acquired by gift or inheritance.   You should photocopy tax returns and tax records and jot down your thoughts as to your economic and non-economic contributions to your marriage, as well as those of your spouse.

A divorcing couple’s children deserve the maximum amount of time, attention and caring concern during the divorce process and should never be used as “bargaining chips”. Where appropriate, professional counseling for the children should be sought. It is also important that schools, grandparents and family be mobilized to help children through their difficult period of adjustment.