1. Pick a family law attorney who practices a significant amount of time in St. Louis County handling divorce. We know the written rules as well as the unwritten rules. We know the judges and the clerks and the other support staff.  A longstanding good relationship with these folks can sometimes grease the wheels and get things done efficiently and that saves you money.
  2. Make sure that you feel comfortable with everyone who be involved in your case and the methods they will use to communicate (text, email, phone, client portal, in-person meeting). Assure yourself that your wishes in this regard will be respected. Respect your attorney and their staff by responding to their communications promptly, even if you just acknowledge the communication and advise when you will get back to them with the answer. And then met that self-imposed deadline.
  3. If your lawyer or someone asks you for some information or documents, tell them when they may expect to receive them and if you can’t make that self-imposed deadline, advise them that you won’t be able to meet the deadline, set another and meet it. Every reminder text or e–mail or telephone call to remind you to do what you said you would do will cost you money. Pay attention, too, if there is a firm deadline. Even the best attorney in the State can not get every deadline extended.
  4. Take the required Parenting Class. Just schedule it and do it.
  5. Don’t post anything on social media about your spouse, your divorce, your finances, your new squeeze. In fact, you might want to take a break from FaceBook and Instagram until after your lawyer mails you a certified copy of your divorce.
  6. If you feel the need to let off steam during the divorce. Get a therapist. They are cheaper and can help you with your emotional turmoil and issues. I do family law exclusively and I saw a therapist during my divorce. No one will consider it a negative if you seek therapy or start taking a widely prescribed anti-depressant.
  7. Really look at the standard Parenting Plan and explain the differences that would work for your family. If the family has always spent Christmas Eve with Mom’s family and Christmas Day with Dad’s family, you don’t have to alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as set forth in the form plan. Think about transfer points when school is not in session.  Write down all of your questions and variations you want from the form (and why) and send them to your lawyer before you discuss the Parenting Plan with her.
  8. Get a copy of the deed(s) for any real estate you own. The property tax bill will not work.
  9. Get the Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) for all motor vehicles and Hull Identification Numbers (HINs) for all watercraft. Best practice would be to give copies of the title(s) to your lawyer.
  10. Get copies of your child(ren)’s medical and school records and give them to your lawyer.
  11. Talk to the other parent about the child(ren) being part of a group at school or Kids in the Middle or other group for children whose parents are separated, separating, divorced or divorcing. This must be a mutual decision. If the other parent won’t agree, your lawyer may be able to help.