Going through a divorce can be emotionally, physically, and financially challenging. However, there are a few common mistakes that you can avoid making to help ensure the process goes smoothly. By being aware of the following divorce mistakes, you can save yourself a considerable amount of time, stress, and money that would otherwise be spent on litigation — and stay focused on moving forward.
Here are ten common divorce mistakes (and why it’s critical to avoid making them):
1. Failing to Learn About Your Legal Rights and Options
Divorce can be legally complex. While the end goal is to dissolve your marriage, there are various issues that must be determined concerning property division, child support, custody, and alimony. It’s important to speak with an experienced attorney to understand your rights in divorce and how to protect them.
It’s also essential to be aware that there isn’t just one way to divorce. Collaborative divorce and mediation are two common alternatives to litigation that can help you and your spouse part ways with less conflict and cost. Your attorney can advise you concerning the best course of action for your specific case.
2. Having Unrealistic Expectations
Divorce isn’t about “winning” and “losing.” It’s about reaching a fair outcome concerning how your assets will be split, and coming to an agreement concerning matters such as child custody and visitation. Typically, divorce involves a good deal of compromise, and neither party will get everything they want. Having the expectation that you will be awarded all of the marital property and assets is not realistic.
The California Family Code provides clear direction regarding child support, division of the marital estate, and spousal support. Absent a strong evidentiary showing that there are circumstances that should result in a different outcome, you can expect a fair and equitable resolution in your divorce case.
3. Withholding Information from Your Attorney
Your divorce attorney is there to zealously represent you during one of the most difficult experiences you might ever face. But in order for them to be the most effective advocate possible, you must be honest and fully disclose all the details that could be relevant to your case — no matter how embarrassing or trivial they might seem. By having complete and accurate knowledge as to the facts of your case, your attorney can prepare a comprehensive strategy to achieve a favorable outcome.
4. Hiding Assets
Full financial disclosure in divorce is required by law. Hiding assets or wrongfully concealing them can come with steep consequences, and lying about them rarely works — concealed assets can be uncovered through the discovery process. If it’s found out that you’ve transferred or hidden assets, you could not only lose credibility with the judge, but you may also be held in contempt of court. If your concealment was intentional, the court also has the discretion to award the entire asset to the other spouse.
5. Being a Passive Participant in Your Divorce
Going through a divorce can feel overwhelming, but it’s vital to make sure you understand every aspect of your case. The agreement that you reach during your divorce case can have far-reaching ramifications that will affect you and your children for years to come. During your divorce, you should stay informed, ask your attorney questions, and be an active participant, rather than distance yourself from the details of your case.
6. Letting Your Emotions Dictate
Divorce can involve a wide range of emotions, but you cannot allow them to get in the way of your overall view and judgment. While it can be hard to put the hurt and pain aside, you must try to be as objective as possible. Letting your emotions control your divorce could cost you substantially more in attorney’s fees and court costs in the long run, and you could also end up spending a significant amount of time in litigation. Importantly, the divorce process is not meant to be used to get revenge on your spouse. You should remain focused on closing this chapter in your life and moving forward to the next.
7. Taking Your Frustration Out on Your Children
No matter how contentious your divorce is, your children’s best interests should always come first. It’s important that they foster a relationship and get to spend quality time with each of their parents. Speaking negatively to your children about their other parent is not only hurtful to them, but it can also potentially impact custody issues. Your spouse might try to use anything you say against you in an attempt to get the upper hand.
8. Getting Legal Advice from Friends and Family
Although your family and friends mean well, you should only take legal advice from your attorney. Even if they’ve gone through a divorce, your friends and family members will not have the skill, knowledge, and experience that an attorney acquires through years of practice. In addition, the issues in every divorce are very different. You shouldn’t expect the same outcome that was obtained in your friend’s case, even if you work with the attorney who represented them.
9. Posting on Social Media
It can be tempting to share your thoughts about your divorce or your soon-to-be-ex spouse online. However, anything you post on your social media accounts could come up later and become part of the record in your case. Despite all the privacy settings you may have in place, a private investigator may still be able to access the information you’ve published. Until your divorce has been finalized, you might consider taking a break from social media entirely. Even if you’re not venting about your case, photos can often be taken out of context — and your spouse could try to use anything you post to bolster their case.
10. Not Hiring an Attorney
One of the biggest divorce mistakes is trying to handle your case on your own. Without the help of a divorce attorney, you risk making mistakes that could affect your case. It may initially seem like a good idea to proceed pro se to save money, but it could potentially cost you more in the long term. By not having counsel on your side, you could unknowingly enter into a settlement agreement that is financially unfavorable to you. Or, you might end up having to hire an attorney halfway through your case to fix costly errors that could have been avoided had they been involved from the beginning.
Contact an Experienced Fresno Divorce Attorney
Parting ways with your spouse is never easy. By working with a skilled matrimonial attorney, you can avoid making common divorce mistakes and lessen the stress of the legal process by learning what not to do in a divorce. Offering high-quality legal services and reliable representation, The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks is committed to helping clients achieve the best possible results in their cases.
The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks has been assisting clients throughout Fresno and the surrounding area with their divorce and family law matters for over 20 years. To schedule a no obligation consultation, call (559) 272-8359.