There’s a reason divorces often take 18-plus months and thousands of dollars to complete. Put simply, it’s not easy to legally divide intertwined assets and sift through the he-said-she-said mess of determining who is to blame for specific incidents or situations.
While you’re always going to come out of a divorce feeling like you lost a lot, the goal is to make it to the other side without giving up more than you have to. Unfortunately, the path to the other side is littered with land mines and booby traps that must be tactfully avoided.
These 8 Mistakes Will Cost You
As you navigate the divorce process, you have to stay on your toes and avoid doing anything that will put you at a disadvantage. Here are some common mistakes that you should be especially cognizant of.
Using Children as Leverage
Children are not pawns to be used in the divorce process to get what you want. Ideally, they should be removed from the process as much as possible and only used when it’s absolutely necessary.
Morals and ethics aside, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is using your children as leverage to get what you want in your divorce. Any respectable judge will look down on you and question your motives. In actuality, you’ll probably end up helping your spouse if you choose to go this route.
Stopping Financial Support
If you’re the breadwinner in the home, you might be tempted to stop providing financial support to your spouse once the divorce process is started. In your mind, you’d rather not support someone who doesn’t want to be a part of the marriage. In the court’s mind, this looks really bad.
Whether it’s your spouse’s car insurance, money for groceries, or the utility bills, you should continue paying for anything you’ve traditionally paid for in the past. Withholding payment looks bad on your part and could impact the amount of child support and/or spousal support you owe in the future.
When you go through a divorce, it’s natural to feel your protective instincts kick in. You want to protect yourself as much as possible and avoid giving up anything you don’t have to. Unfortunately, the law requires that both parties in a divorce are transparent regarding their finances. If you attempt to hide something – whether a physical asset or a financial account – you will most likely get caught.
Not only does hiding an asset require additional litigation, but it could also have legal and financial ramifications that extend beyond your divorce. It’s best to be open and honest and then make a case for the assets that you believe are rightfully yours.
Putting Too Much Stock in the House
Your house is an emotional asset, as much as it is a financial one. When it comes to the thought of losing your house in a divorce, a lot of people get worked up and let desperation get the best of them. As a result, they do everything possible to get the house in the settlement. And while they may end up getting the house, what they really wind up with is a headache.
If you get the house, it probably means you aren’t getting much else. Plus, it’s possible that you’ll end up being house poor. Will you be able to afford the house payments? Do you need that much space? Think about questions like these.
Failing to Consider Mediation
If you and your spouse are on decent terms, then you might want to consider mediation as an alternative. With divorce mediation, you don’t have to go through the time-consuming process of court and can deal with all of the important asset distribution and custody issues on your time (and with much more privacy). Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize this is an option and overlook it altogether.
Failing to Respond
Sometimes people make the mistake of not responding to a filed divorce petition. They either think that this will prevent the process from moving forward, or they just don’t care. Either way, a failure to respond will end up with you on the losing end.
As FindLaw.com explains, “When the non-petitioning spouse fails to answer the petition, the court will generally assume that the spouse agrees to the terms included on the petition — which can include property division, child custody, spousal support, and other demands made by the petitioning spouse — and enter a default judgment.”
Letting Emotions Guide Decision Making
Divorce is a highly emotional process. It’s impossible not to feel twinges of sadness, anxiety, stress, anger, and even depression – regardless of how ready you are for the marriage to be over. While normal, these emotions can become problematic when you let them guide your decision making.
When you find yourself getting emotional, take a deep breath and think about the choices you’re making. If you’re unsure of yourself, sleep on it and ask for input from others in the morning.
Hiring the Wrong Lawyer
The biggest mistake you can possibly make is hiring the wrong lawyer (or no lawyer at all). The wrong lawyer will put his own interests (money) ahead of your interests and will try to finalize the divorce with as little time commitment as possible. A good, experienced lawyer, on the other hand, will take the time to get to know you, listen to your needs, fight for your interests, and help you avoid common mistakes (like the ones outlined in this article).
Let Rowdy G. Williams Help You
A divorce is never easy or clean. Even if you and your spouse are on fairly good terms, the divorce process has a way of exposing selfish motives and causing people to act foolishly. In an effort to avoid making the mistakes highlighted in this article, make sure you hire a good attorney.
At Rowdy G. Williams Law Firm P.C., we have nearly two decades of success helping our clients obtain favorable outcomes in their divorce cases. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us today!