Resources > Client Tips

Don‘t Make These "Biggest Mistakes"

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers surveyed its membership to determine what its members believed to be the biggest mistakes divorcing couples with children make. Here are the results, in order of frequency:

  • Denigrating the other spouse.
  • Using the child as a messenger.
  • Interfering with visitation rights.
  • Sharing intimate details of the other spouse‘s infidelity, behavior, etc.
  • Failing to pay support/adequately supporting the children.
  • Immediately introducing the children to the parent‘s new love interest.
  • Moving the child as far away as possible from the other parent.
  • Listening to the child‘s conversations with the other parent.
  • Having the child read all of the legal pleadings.
  • Having the child request money from the other spouse.

Tips for Working with your Divorce Lawyer

Talk to your lawyer - it is important for you to tell your lawyer what your concerns are. If you don't feel comfortable discussing your feelings and concerns, write them down and send them to your lawyer. It is easier for the attorney to address issues before they get out of hand. Lawyers can deal with anything that they know about, but surprising your attorney with information near the trial date can be damaging.

Be aware of your emotional needs - use the services of a mental health professional. Their hourly rate is normally less than that of your attorney, and their fees are often covered by health insurance. The divorce process is very emotional, and it is in your best interest not to try to handle it on your own. The support of a good mental health professional is invaluable.

Your fears are reasonable - everyone going through a divorce has concerns about financial stability, solitude, the stress of being a single parent, etc. Being informed and dealing with these concerns is essential. Talk to your lawyer and your mental health professional about these issues.

Manage your anger - of course, frustration and anger are part of the divorce process, but it is important to understand the consequences and long term damage that acting on that anger can cause, especially when children are involved. Try problem solving techniques that are appropriate for your situation.

Don't ask your lawyer to do something that is unacceptable - lawyers are officers of the court. They are not permitted to misrepresent or to permit their clients to do so. If you do not follow your attorney‘s directions and advice, or if you mislead your attorney, the relationship will be terminated.

Turn to others for support - if you ask your support network (friends, family, counselors) for help, you will generally be surprised at the outpouring of support. Reach out to those who will be there for you on a regular basis. Consider joining a divorce support group or a workshop for single parents.

Be prepared - you are often given “homework” and deadlines for completing financial statements, providing documents, responding to interrogatories, reviewing settlement offers, etc. Although this is often difficult and time-consuming, it is important that you respond to your lawyer in a timely manner. Most cases are on a schedule that is set by the Court, and there may be detrimental consequences of a failure to complete discovery in a timely manner, for example. If you have questions about what has been asked of you, contact your attorney or the paralegal immediately to secure the necessary clarification or assistance. "Playing ostrich" and delaying is not in your best interest.

Mailing Address

Geraldine Welikson Hess, Esq
Hess Family Law
451 Hungerford Dr,
Suite 119-307
Rockville, Maryland 20850

Geraldine Welikson Hess, Esq
Hess Family Law
344 Maple Ave West,
Suite 355
Vienna, Virginia 22180

Meeting Locations

Rockville, Maryland:
1 Research Court,
Suite 450
Rockville, Maryland 20850
(240) 389-4377
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Fairfax, Virginia:
11325 Random Hills Rd,
Suite 360
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
(240) 389-4377
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