Stutman Stutman & Lichtenstein is New York’s and the Hampton’s top boutique law firm dedicated to the practice of matrimonial and family law. Partners Michael Stutman, Dana M. Stutman, and Kari Lichtenstein, and Of Counsel Lloyd M. Friedland, and their team of attorneys represent clients in all aspects of divorce, child custody and related matters, including complex financial matters, settlements, mediation, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, child support, post judgement proceedings, and surrogacy.
In this new monthly column, they will answer questions from you – our readers – concerning such matters. For example, if you are questioning the strength of your own marriage, you’ve thought about divorce for years, or your spouse just threw you a curveball and you don’t know where to turn, except to a box of tissues of course, the most critical first step is PREPARATION.
1. KEEP CRITICAL THINKING at the forefront of every decision: Often, and especially when divorce is foisted upon us, emotion kicks in and a gut response becomes the decision maker. We’ve all heard the saying “never make a decision when you’re mad”- that especially applies to your divorce process.
2. CONSIDER YOUR NEEDS: You will no doubt receive lawyer recommendations from friends, family, and/or professionals. Understand why that person is recommending a specific attorney. Be aware that every divorce is different and every person going through divorce has different needs, which should drive your decision. Think about such questions as:
- Do you want the process to be amicable or do you want
someone who is going to “fight” and stand up for you against your
- Is cost a driving factor?
- Are you concerned about the effect on your children?
- Do you want to proceed quickly or do you need time to digest
this major life choice?
3. SHOP AROUND: Don’t be afraid to consult with different divorce attorneys. We suggest meeting at least three to compare personalities and focus. There may be a fee, but it’s a worthwhile investment. Be prepared with questions and find the right fit for your
needs and budget.
Before you’ve gone through these steps and decide on a lawyer, it is important to amass your financial information. Gather all YOUR and YOUR SOON-TO-BE-EX-SPOUSE’S financial papers – tax returns, credit card statements, bank information, etc. – for the past 3-5 years. Don’t move money around. In cases where custody is involved, it may be helpful to keep a log of the other person’s comings and goings, and what they say and do.
And, very importantly, change all your computer passwords!
If you have questions for us, please send an email to [email protected]. We will feature one or two questions and offer our best advice each month. In the meantime, please remember that divorce may seem like a long and daunting process – but there is light at the end of the tunnel.