United States: What Gives Me The Best Chance For Success Post-Divorce?

Last Updated: April 22 2019
Article by W. Stuart Scott

One of the most common questions I am asked is "what is the smartest thing I can do to survive my divorce and be successful in my new life?" Even though the facts of every divorce are personal and vary dramatically, there is one, simple answer to this question.

Manage your expectations. It sounds easy enough. But as a lawyer with over 31 years of experience I find it is much easier said than done.

When going through a divorce it is natural to have outcome expectations. Divorce is usually an emotionally tumultuous time and involves so many things that are important to you including one's children, money, retirement, and even one's self-identity. Even if you are the person initiating the divorce, the change from being a married person to a single person is very difficult.

Every household is unique, and that makes every divorce unique. Couples set ground rules that often work for the two involved. And the expectations from one couple to another can vary dramatically.

For example, in some households, one person exclusively controls all the finances. With others, it is extremely important that each knows everything that is being spent by the other. With some couples one parent is the primary caregiver to the children. Others share parenting time and parenting obligations much more equally. There is no one rule of thumb that applies when it comes to the expectations one person has of the other.

Divorce can upend all the "rules" a couple has lived by, sometimes for decades. The expectations and agreements that have become the bedrock of a relationship may be altered. Further, law of the state involved may dictate what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior between divorcing parents. This is true without regard to what the expectations of one another may have been, and the way they may have lived, for years. Here are some tips to help you manage your expectations.

Understand the realities of the rules of divorce. Expecting or assuming the "rules" of the relationship will continue to apply during the divorce, therefore, is not only naïve but also can result in actions by one person that have long lasting, negative effects on them in terms of the divorce results.

Provide complete financial transparency. Courts demand complete financial disclosure during a divorce no matter what has happened with the couple during their marriage. Even if it had been customary during the marriage to keep information from your spouse regarding a bonus, for example, doing so during a divorce will be considered dishonest behavior. A single act of dishonesty during the divorce process can badly damage the credibility of a spouse in the eyes of the court. And no one wants that!

Avoid the victim mentality. One common mistake concerns expectations regarding parenting time in situations involving adultery. Of course, adultery is one of the most fundamental betrayals that one married person can commit against another. The person who has been cheated on will immediately feel like a victim, and understandably so.

A victim mentality concerning the relationship between two adults may also make the person feel entitled to a victim's attitude towards everything concerning the divorce, including parenting time. Depending on where you live, your state's law may or may not take adultery into consideration when it comes to parenting time. In Tennessee, as in most places, the courts are instructed they should "maximize" parenting time with both parents regarding their children. And this is true no matter how emotionally devastating an act or set of actions of one parent are in the eyes, mind and heart of the other. So if one parent cheats on the other, this does not legally translate into that parent not having significant, or even primary, parenting time with the parties' children, depending on the law of the state involved.

Educate yourself. Inaccurate or mistaken expectations about what will happen during divorce is one of the top causes of unhappiness during and post-divorce. Knowing what to expect is critical in success during divorce and thereafter. This is true in multiple ways.

A simple example illustrates the above. Let us assume that at the conclusion of a divorce a spouse receives $250,000 of the other spouse's retirement account. If that spouse had been told prior thereto by their lawyer that they would receive $350,000, then the spouse may be extremely disappointed. On the other hand, if the spouse had been told to expect to receive $150,000, the spouse may be elated.

The result is the same. But the feelings are diametrically opposed based on the expectations that existed before the award. This means understanding and accepting a realistic range of outcomes in a divorce is critical in terms of how a spouse responds to them. Over the decades I have seen spouses who are extremely dissatisfied with what, objectively under the law, is a very good result. I have also seen spouses who receive a result within the range of expectation who were pleased that they were able to do just that.

Take charge of your expectations. This means you have control over the most critical aspect of whether you are successful during your divorce and thereafter or not based on your own feelings about the results. Imagine thinking forward to near the end of your life and you looking back at this time in your life. In doing so would you ever say: "I wish I had spent more time mad and unhappy!" Very doubtful.

Understanding what is realistic and managing expectations may be the single most important factor in successfully handling a divorce and starting a new life thereafter. Receiving realistic advice from a lawyer is critical in this regard. Equally if not more important is understanding the realities of the situation and embracing expectations grounded in the law, whether they are consistent or inconsistent with the way you have lived or what you would prefer.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions