Our law firm is part of a movement of divorce-related professionals producing "Second Saturday Workshops." As the name implies, the workshops are held on the second Saturday of each month. The workshops are based on the idea that all divorces involve legal, emotional, and financial issues. In the course of a three-hour morning workshop, participants in Second Saturday routinely hear from a lawyer, a therapist, and a financial planner--each for about an hour. Participants almost always leave the Second Saturday workshops with a lot more knowledge and feeling a lot more empowered.
At some point in almost all Second Saturday workshops, one or more participants somewhat nervously raise their hand to ask a question and the question usually starts with "my husband says that…" or "my ex says this about that." Almost always the statement by the soon-to-be-ex is not good news and is anxiety and stress producing to the other spouse. Almost always as well the advice is factually wrong, not consistent with the law, and often is malicious and meant to be hurtful or fear producing.
From the point of view of the legal practitioners, taking divorce advice from your soon-to-be-ex is very ironic if not incomprehensible. However, upon closer examination, there are reasons why a party may listen to divorce-related information from their estranged spouse. While there may be reasons why this behavior might be understandable, it should absolutely be avoided. Please, please
STOP TAKING LEGAL ADVICE FROM YOUR EX!!
Reasons why people are drawn to listening to the legal advice given to them by their soon-to-be-ex are tightly tied to how most people typically conduct themselves in their marriage. Spouses routinely discuss and strategize about important financial and logistical elements of their lives. Spouses routinely chat about short-term (who's going to pick up Jenny from soccer practice tomorrow) and long-term matters (whether to buy a house or to open an IRA).
During the marriage, spouses have ordinarily got into a habit of chatting with each other about important and serious decisions. The life changes that are now and will shortly occur in their lives, as a result of the divorce, are profound and long-lasting. In that the party had typically discussed important life changes with their spouse over many years, upon reflection it seems understandable that a spouse would discuss the changes that are happening in their lives with their other spouse.
It is understandable, but it has to be avoided. The party's spouse is now the adverse party in a lawsuit. From this fact it flows that the other spouse by definition wants to get most of the peace of mind and marital assets for themselves. Their actions will likely be with those self-centered goals in mind.
More importantly, in a typical divorce both spouses are hurting emotionally. Those hurts are often extremely intense. Typical emotions suffered by divorcing spouses are anger (often extreme), shame (about their primary relationship ending in a type of failure), and anxiety and fear (about how they are going to survive). Typically both spouses experience some or all of these emotions, and more. As a result, an angry spouse is not likely to give good legal advice to their other spouse who is divorcing them.
Lastly, it is a bad idea to take legal advice from your spouse because they probably don't know very much about the law. The treatises or basic books about family law are the size of five Bibles. Family law is an area of law that is extremely complex. The chances that a layperson, without legal training or experience, would luckily hit on how the law would actually work in an area is very unlikely. Even if your ex has good intentions to give you good advice, it probably would be wrong advice because they don't know the law.
For all of these reasons, please, please STOP TAKING LEGAL ADVICE FROM YOUR EX!!