Divorce is stressful. There really isn’t any way around that. It’s emotionally draining, financially taxing, and if you have children involved it can be overwhelming trying to balance parenting, your own well-being, and the legal implications of your divorce. However, being prepared and understanding what you should, or in this case, shouldn’t do, will help alleviate some of that stress as you progress through your divorce. These are some common mistakes that can easily be avoided if you’re informed ahead of time:
- Not paying attention to taxes
There is a lot of money division involved in divorce, especially when you’re dealing with multiple joint accounts and deciding who gets what. It is important to remember the tax implications of these decisions. If you are awarded the house in the settlement, can you afford the taxes on your single income when the time comes?
- Making agreements outside the settlement papers
Yes, you can get divorced without lawyers and yes, you can make verbal agreements, but relying on your ex’s word with no legal contract involved can often-times lead to frustrating disputes. Even if you’re confident that you and your spouse can handle and honor these verbal assurances, it is often better to make everything transparent and binding in contract. You may (and people often do) find yourself facing unnecessary conflict down the road when your significant other is suddenly opposing a verbal agreement.
- Taking legal advice from family and friends
Being able to lean on and talk to friends and family is such an important and helpful part of going through a divorce—there is no replacement for the emotional support that comes from that sense of community. Unfortunately, this often results in people giving you legal advice. Remember that no two divorce cases are the same, and what may have worked for friends or family who have been through a similar situation, may not be the best strategy for your case. If you have questions about advice given, it’s okay to come to your attorney with questions or a need for clarification, but remember that it is in your best interest to only take advice from legal professionals.
- Not being prepared or organized
There are a lot of little details involved in getting divorced. It is important to talk to your lawyer about everything that you need to get in order to ensure this process results in your best outcome. Keep your finances, titles, deeds, statements, etc. organized. Bring copies in a file folder. Maintain a datebook during this stressful time so you are present at every meeting/proceeding.
- Settling too fast
Divorce is messy, overwhelming, and can be expensive. It might be tempting to rush through it just to “get it over with”, but try to avoid this mind-set. It may be uncomfortable now, but if you’re patient and steadfast throughout the process, you’ll likely see far better results long-term. If you settle too quickly you might be giving up a lot that you’re entitled to, and once those papers are signed, there is no changing the outcome. This is especially true when children are involved, as it’s important that custody negotiations are handled thoroughly so that the parenting plan is fair and in their best interest.
- Intentionally increasing debt
This seems like an odd thing to do, but it is more common than you’d realize. People getting a divorce sometimes believe that the “breadwinner” will end up with the credit card bill so they start spending money before it is finalized. Debt, like the majority of everything else, gets split between parties. You might not get the biggest piece of debt, but it is in your best interest to refrain from such spending. It could also hurt the negotiation process if it seems vindictive.
- Using your children
Sometimes using your children during a divorce is unintentional, such as using them for emotional support or as a sounding board. Divorce is difficult for them as well, if not more so. If you need company because you miss your partner, or need someone to vent or cry to, find a friend, family member, or a counselor for these needs. Also, don’t make the mistake of using your children as leverage, or as messengers or “spies” to their other parent. Leave your children out of the process as much as possible.
- Leaving your significant other on important documents
This is a process that generally happens after a divorce is final, as you may need proof of divorce for some items. Do not leave your ex-partner’s name on items you’ve won during negotiations, like the house or car, and take them off your will or any trusts or bank accounts, etc. Leaving your ex on puts you at risk by giving them access. Even if you have a civil relationship, take caution; divorce can cause unpredictable and sometimes uncharacteristic behavior in people, and there’s always the chance that things between you could change quickly.
This list isn’t exhaustive. Every person who has gone through divorce can probably tell you one thing they wish they had done differently or a situation they could have handled better. As stated before, no two divorce cases are the same, thus every person will face different challenges and potential mistakes, but this list is a good place to start. The best thing you can do is plan ahead, talk to your lawyer, do your research, and make sure you’re prepared before your meetings. The professionals at Pacific Cascade Family Law are experts at dealing with these situations and making the divorce process as smooth and flawless as possible. We encourage you to reach out today. It’s time to begin your journey to a better tomorrow.