Dr. Phil is not a medical doctor or licensed psychologist. He has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Having said that, and acknowledging he is not any more qualified to offer psychology than your local bartender, he does speak plain truths to complicated people. Want to watch him skewer selfish parents dealing with divorce? You can watch the drama here, or you can thank us for helping you avoid such humiliation by reading this.

#1: No Need for Lawyers

She’s going to go along with whatever I say regarding property settlement, child support, spousal support, child custody, domestic violence charges, separation agreements, a prenuptial agreement

No. No she’s not. Why should she? You are fighting for your future, and she will fight for hers. She has no reason to rubber-stamp whatever harebrained scheme you have hatched. Expect her to jealously guard everything she has or that you two built together, from the house to the family car to the children.

First mistake to avoid: Going it alone. Get a lawyer. No matter the family law matter, get a lawyer.

#2: A Lawyer’s A Lawyer

You had a great lawyer draw up your will, or help with a real estate transaction, or guide you through tax season. Surely that same lawyer will be a great pick for your family law issue.

Care for a sports analogy? Hey, since you played football in high school, you should try out for the Olympic pole vaulting team! How about cooking? Since you opened a can of beans to heat in the microwave, catering your sister’s wedding reception for 100 guests should be a snap for you.

The point is, a skill or talent in one area does not make a person — lawyer, quarterback, chef — qualified in another area. Taxes are not the same as domestic violence. Divorce law is not real estate law. Estates and wills are not separation and child custody.

Second mistake to avoid: Using a convenient lawyer. For family law matters, get a family law attorney!

#3: Dr. Phil

That episode of Dr. Phil saw him roll out nine mistakes parents make in divorce:

  1. Using children as pawns
  2. Using children as spies
  3. Transference of feelings
  4. Forcing children to choose sides (Mom versus Dad)
  5. Turning family events (birthdays, weddings, reunions, anniversaries) into pressure cookers
  6. Using your child for companionship or emotional support
  7. Treating children as adults
  8. Being too emotionally needy
  9. Overindulging children due to parental guilt

Dr. Phil’s counter to this is twofold:

  • Never burden children with issues beyond their control
  • Do not ask them to cope with adult issues

No matter the family law problem you face, keep the children a healthy distance from the drama, emotion, financial toll, and impact. Your first job as a parent is to protect your children, and in family law matters, that may mean protecting them from yourself.

Third (through 11th?) mistake to avoid: Dragging the kids into your family law problem.

#4: The Court Will Punish Her

Family law in Virginia is seldom about meting out harsh punishments. Sure, some issues (child support payments, neglect or abuse) have serious consequences, but for the most part family law is a civil process.

The court behaves civilly. You and your partner or spouse are expected to behave civilly. The goal of court is justice, not torture. Do not expect a Circuit Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court to condemn your opposing party to burn at the stake.

Instead, realize that the court system in Virginia seeks first to protect Virginia’s children, and then to levy fair and reasonable financial burdens on both parties. This is again why you need experienced attorneys fighting to represent you; your financial security is seldom a top priority with the courts.

Fourth mistake to avoid: Seeking vengeance instead of serenity.

#5: I’ll Sign Anything

Her breathing bothers you. Something about the shape of her hands nauseates you. The way she chews fried chicken makes you want to scream. If you have to sit across from her at a mediation conference or property settlement meeting, you will explode in a rage.

We get it. You are desperate to be done with that chapter of your life, so anything she puts in front of you, you will sign. Do not do it. You hired a family law attorney; use your counselor. Be ready to negotiate through your lawyer.

Fifth mistake to avoid: Rushing to end in months what took years to build.

Call The Family Law Attorneys for Men

You will make no mistake by calling 757-383-9184 to speak with a family law attorney at The Firm For Men. We can provide wise counsel, steer you away from costly errors, and protect you in every aspect of family law.