With about half of marriages ending either in divorce or in permanent separation, the industry of divorce is perhaps one of the most booming.
But even if the probabilities aren’t in favor of having a successful marriage, these three lawyers have some tips they believe could help bring that number up, or at least make things easier if you succumb to the odds and end up in their office.
James Sexton, Linda Zhou, and Val Kleyman, who together have nearly 40 years of experience as divorce lawyers, sat down with Glamour magazine to dish up some of their relationship advice.
The divorce experts: James Sexton, Linda Zhou, and Val Kleyman, have nearly 40 combined years of experience as divorce lawyers
Divorce lawyers’ top relationship tips
1. Understand that marriage is a serious legal commitment
2. Know exactly what you want in a spouse and realize they may not change
3. Definitely talk about your finances
4. An exciting girlfriend or boyfriend might not make a good spouse
5. If you do have to get a divorce, try to stay calm
‘Marriage is like a lottery, you’re probably not going to win. But if you win, what you win is so great that it’s worth trying; it’s worth buying the ticket and taking the ride,’ said James Sexton who has been practicing law for 17 years.
Sexton, who called marriage ‘the most legally significant thing other than dying that you’ll ever do’, stressed the importance of taking marriage seriously and understanding the legal aspects behind it.
The lawyer compared marriage to buying a house, pointing out that when you buy property, ‘they make you fill out 50 forms’ explaining all the details behind the commitment.
When you get married, however, you don’t even get a ‘pamphlet’.
‘The fact that you’re entering into this significant legal contract, when most people have zero idea what’s actually involved in that contract and spend a lot more time figuring out what kind of cake they should have at the event is a really strange thing to me,’ he said.
It’s like the lottery, you ain’t gonna win! Although Sexton mentioned the high probability of marriages ending in divorce, he said it’s worth giving it a shot
Linda Zhou, who has practiced law for 10 years, recommended that couples communicate exactly what they want before making a commitment, given that people don’t tend to change.
Val Kleyman, a lawyers for 13 years, also weighed in on the importance of fully communicating before the big commitment, saying it is ‘critical that those expectations are communicated early’.
Sexton said it’s important to realize that you divorce the very same person you were once married to. He shared that he often has clients coming to his office ‘shocked’ that their ex-spouse is being vindictive through the divorce, but when he asks them what they were like during the marriage, there isn’t much change.
That is, if they were the type of ‘kind of person that would nickel and dime everybody,’ they’re usually the kind of person to do the same to their ex-spouse during a divorce.
Another tip the lawyers agreed on is the importance of discussing finances, such as student loans and credit card debt, before getting married.
Let’s talk money: Zhou stressed the importance of discussing finances, such as student loans and credit card loans, before tying the knot
Zhou said this is one of the most important conversations two people need to have before tying the knot.
‘Doing a prenup forces the couple to have a conversation because there’s mandatory financial disclosure,’ she said.
The lawyers also stressed that dating is not the same thing as being married, and that a good boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t always make for a good spouse.
Sexton shared that he gets a lot of client who think their boyfriends and girlfriends have exciting jobs like musicians or chefs, but that end up being careers that are tough on marriages.
‘Things people look in people to date are often different than what they want in a partner for life,’ he said.
Finally, the lawyers advised that if you do end up getting a divorce, you should try to stay calm.
Don’t make divorce into a loser and winner situation: Kleyman recommended staying calm when going through a divorce
‘The worst thing you can do is make a divorce into a winner and loser situation,’ said Kleyman.
Sexton said that he’s seen stay-at-home moms throw things at their exes in a courtroom.
He said: ‘When you represent people in divorce, you see good people at their worst’.
Despite a long career filled with broken relationships, Sexton still gets teary eyed at weddings, and Zhou said her job helps her with her own marriage, making her realize what she doesn’t want to lose.