Most see it coming. It's years in the making and the final announcement, of the demise of your marriage, is certainly no surprise.
Every once in awhile it comes out of the blue.
You seem to be communicating well; enjoying activities together and making plans for the future.
Then , all of a sudden-POW! Your spouse utters those dreaded three words: "I want a divorce."
It's a shock to your system that is difficult to process and yet, you have to.
All of the plans, hopes and dreams you had about a future together evaporate into thin air and you are left wondering what direction to go in.
My advice, as a lawyer who has worked in family law for more than 30 years, is don't worry about the long term future; you first have to secure the immediate future.
It's time to go into survival mode and do what you need to protect yourself starting with hiring the best lawyer you can afford.
Once you retain counsel, you want to follow his or her advice, of course, but also want to think and act strategically.
Bring out all of your sleuthing skills to try to unravel the mystery of the sudden divorce announcement. More often than not, when a divorce announcement comes from out of the blue, there is someone else waiting in the wings.
Look at credit card and bank statements to begin with and cell phone records to retrace your spouse's activities.
If you can follow the monies, it will normally tell you the rest of the story.
And the rest of the story may be a key to obtaining a more favorable division of assets or resolution of any claim for alimony.
If nothing else, you may end up having the peace of mind that you looked into it and can rule out infidelity as the reason for your divorce.
From that point on, it is time to identify the marital assets (and debts) and divvy them up in a manner that is fair and equitable to you.
Think of your contributions to the marriage, both monetary and nonmonetary, which will be the basis for the division of assets.
And the rest is in the hands of your attorney who can shepherd you to the end of your case and work toward the outcome that serves you best.
The worst thing you can do is play the victim and do nothing at all.
Always be ready to advocate for yourself and to give your attorney all of the ammo you have to help prepare your case.
Now is not the time to hold back or be modest.
When you are taken by surprise and about to be taken, it's time for you to act and spring some surprises of your own.
There will be plenty of time for healing when the divorce is final; until then focus on the big picture and doing whatever you can to help get the best outcome you can.