It’s Not the End, It’s the Beginning – Dennis Vetrano’s Divorce Insights
Where do you start if you’re thinking about or have decided to get divorced? What does that process even look like?
Dennis Vetrano Jr., a divorce lawyer and mediator based in Hudson Valley, New York, joined Jessica on the Divorce etc… podcast to discuss his insights on the divorce process. No matter where you are in the process – whether you’re in the midst of a divorce, or even just thinking about it – Dennis has first-hand experience helping people in your shoes.
When to Meet With an Attorney
Though some may suggest otherwise, Dennis always recommends meeting with a lawyer as soon as possible. “Your health, your safety, your physical, mental, emotional well-being is always first,” he explains, but meeting with a lawyer helps you figure out the playing field and know what you’re up against. Even if you don’t think your spouse has consulted with a lawyer, nine times out of ten, they already have. Even if you’re just thinking about getting divorced, even if that conversation hasn’t come up with your spouse, it can be worth it to start setting up consultations with lawyers. Knowledge is power, and if you take advantage of the resources out there early on, you’ll have a head start in navigating all of the difficult decisions you’ll be making down the line.
Is It Wrong to Plan Ahead For A Divorce?
Meeting lawyers before a divorce is a stressful process in itself. A lot of people who are anti-divorce see it as a rash decision to break your family apart. Dennis gets these comments, and we here at exEXPERTS face backlash for being so open about divorce. But we think discussing it is the only way to help stop the stigma.
“Most of the time, people who are contemplating divorce, who ultimately pull the trigger, have been contemplating the divorce and have known that direction they’re going in for, most times, years,” Dennis sees. “But as you’re wrangling with it mentally and emotionally, I think the calm is brought by the information.”
So what really makes people decide to pull the trigger? “My experience is that the final straw is relatively innocuous,” Dennis observes. It can be something as small as a comment your spouse makes, something small they do, or something a friend or relative brings up, that just clicks the thought into place for you. “It’s not one major factor. People wrangle with the issue for so long, that it’s just one little light bulb.” Being prepared with the facts and understanding the process can help you prepare if you do decide to go through with a divorce.
Dennis’s advice on planning for a divorce brings a lot of negative attention from those who are against the concept. Even Jessica and T.H. get hate comments about being so open and public in discussing divorce through exEXPERTS. But Dennis doesn’t take these comments to heart. “I’m here to tell you that your divorce is not an end,” he comments. “It’s a beginning. There is life, there is love, there is career, there is money, there are hopes, and there are dreams.”
This isn’t to say that Dennis himself is pro-divorce. “All I’m saying is, and I’m always big on this, move your life forward.” This doesn’t necessarily mean divorce; maybe it’s a marriage counselor, maybe it’s working on yourself, or maybe it’s working on the two of you to fix your problems. But if you know these issues can’t be fixed, don’t stay in an unhappy situation.
When the time comes for a divorce, or even if you’re just in the process of preparing for it, there are some important do’s and don’ts that might slip your mind. The first things that Dennis suggests are what he calls the “nuts and bolts,” the essential things to keep in mind.
First up are the do’s. The best thing to start with is by making a to-do list. Gather information, put together documents, figure out your emergency contacts, and know who to go to if you have to leave your house tomorrow. The second thing to do is research lawyers. It’s good to reach out to a few, get a feel for the firm, visit the firm, and see if their setup will work for you. Is their website organized? Is their office neat? “Keep in mind the office is a representation of them,” Dennis advises. But when it comes to finding the right lawyer for you, no magical formula will give you the answer. “It’s all about feel,” says Dennis. “Meet with them and take some time with them, and you would be surprised how quickly and easily you will feel it.”
And the Don’ts
The biggest don’t in Dennis’s book is letting your emotions get the best of you. “I think that’s what makes this area of law so challenging,” Dennis finds. “It’s not just law and facts; it’s law and facts and really high emotions.” Don’t go into the divorce with the intent of getting back at your spouse; chances are, you’re not going to get what you think you’re going to get out of it. On top of that, it complicates the situation and can make the divorce messier than it needs to be.
What Dennis suggests to his clients is to find a professional to work with the emotions for you in this process. Vent to your counselor, and find a solution with your lawyer. Don’t waste money venting to your lawyer.
Another big thing to remember is that every time you’re in court, you’re on stage. The court sees your appearance, your demeanor, hears what you say, and makes determinations based on that. The other important thing, as Dennis has emphasized, is to make sure you don’t let emotions get the best of you in court.
It’s Never A Guarantee
Every client Dennis encounters is always convinced of their case. They always believe that as soon as the judge hears their side, they’ll rule in their favor. But Dennis emphasizes that with any litigation case, there is always uncertainty. “Many of these issues come down to he said, she said,” he says matter-of-factly. And you never know what preconceived notions judges are bringing into court with them. It’s not fair, but it’s not unheard of. So, unfortunately, what you may believe is just and fair may not be seen the same way in court.
By preparing yourself with the facts, finding the right lawyer as soon as possible, and getting the right resources ahead of time, you can better prepare yourself for when the time comes to negotiate and go to court.
“My point is, use your experts to get your emotions right. Negotiate where you can. But try to do it the easy way if you can.”
If you want to hear more from Dennis, check out the show notes from his episode on the Divorce etc… podcast. And if anyone you know may benefit from his advice, be sure to send them our way.