Girlfriends. They can be an amazing source of comfort and advice. Especially when you’re going through a hard time.
But when it comes to divorce, is it a good idea to take advice from your gal pal? In some ways, yes, particularly if she’s already been through what you’re going through now. And - unless your bestie happens to be a top notch divorce attorney - in other ways, no.
In this article, we break down the ways your girlfriends can be super helpful in the comfort and advice departments, and a few where you might consider taking their advice with a (polite) grain of salt.
When To Listen Closely:
When she builds back your confidence. Have a friend whose mission is to convince you how fabulous you are? Soak those words up and bask in their glory! A boost of confidence is worth its weight in gold. Lean on your pals right now to love on you and help build your mojo back up. Better yet, you can build your own Divorce Squad. That’s what friends are for.
When she assures you – from her own experience - that you will get through this. On your darkest days, look to your girlfriends who’ve survived their own divorces. The ones who truly understand your situation and can show you there indeed is light at the end of the tunnel.
When she gives you the name of her divorce attorney. If your gal pal loved her own divorce lawyer, add that person to the top of your referral list. What if she didn’t have a good experience? That’s also valuable information to have, so you know who not to contact.
When she tells you what she wish she’d known during her own divorce. Here’s where a divorced friend can be a goldmine of information. Ask her what she’d do differently if she had to do it all over. What does she wish she’d known then that she knows now? If she’s a really close friend, take it one step further and ask to read her divorce settlement agreement. Look for things in it that you might not have known to ask for (like for your ex to maintain his disability policy, or to divide his flexible spending account).
When to Exercise Caution:
When she compares her situation to yours. The outcome of any divorce depends on a myriad of factors - how long you’ve been married, your assets and debts, income, and age and health, just to name a few. Even if there are similarities in your situations, your divorces will not be identical. Comparing your apples to her oranges won’t help you figure out what’s a fair deal for you, but it might set you up for needless disappointment.
When she gives you “legal advice.” In my divorce practice, I’ve had many women tell me something about the law that they’d heard from a friend. Usually it’s accompanied by “She said I’m entitled to….” The advice seems well-intended, but it’s usually not accurate. If your friend lives in another state, you’re not subject to the same divorce laws. And even in the same state, different counties and different judges do things very differently. The 60 year old male judge she had might have a different opinion about alimony than the 45 year old female judge you’ve got. Listen to her experience, but don’t judge your own by it.
When she’s just plain negative, or into bashing your ex. It’s too easy to go there. And no doubt, sometimes you need to vent. But if it feels like she’s initiating it, be careful. Right now, you need to surround yourself with people who feel like engines, not anchors.