Divorce is never easy, especially as you face a newly divided family and the possibility of losing your home. Many people respond in ways that can cause long-term repercussions. Hiring an experienced divorce attorney can help you avoid many common mistakes, but you should also read further to understand the importance of every action you take.
Ask a Divorce Attorney: 7 Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce
1. Making Emotion-Based Decisions
It is entirely normal to experience a range of emotions during divorce, including anger, grief, and guilt. You should not, however, let these emotions drive your decisions or actions. Doing so can negatively impact you both now and in the future.
To illustrate, a person may react in anger and make unreasonable demands during the divorce. They might request the marital home, all of the home’s furnishings, and both cars. Acting in this way will only delay the proceedings and increase tension between you and your spouse. It is far healthier to speak with a therapist or counselor who can help you manage emotions and make responsible decisions during the divorce.
2. Emptying Joint Bank Accounts
Some partners empty joint bank accounts to get the jump on their spouses. This is another move, however, that can have far-reaching consequences. The judge overseeing your case may perceive you as dishonest. Your spouse will likewise know the assets are missing and wage a search mission to find them. This can delay the conclusion of your case and lead to higher attorney fees.
Hiding assets, especially money, can destroy your relationship with your spouse and children. You will likely be forced to account for and even return the money at some point. The bottom line is you should leave joint accounts intact until your divorce attorney or judge indicates otherwise. In the meantime, you can open a new individual account and use that for routine spending.
If you’re worried about marital assets as you and your spouse separate, you should retrieve and copy all recent financial documents. Inventory and photograph home furnishings and belongings. You might also meet with a financial planner who can help you prepare for the future.
3. Ignoring Tax Implications
A divorce settlement commonly involves the award of child and spousal support as well as the division of marital assets. As with any agreement that calls for the specific allocation of money and assets, it’s important to consider all potential tax implications. This is especially true if your settlement stipulates the division of pension or retirement plans. Failing to consider every possible scenario may leave you with significantly devalued assets or support payments.
4. Failing to Communicate with Your Spouse
In some divorce cases, a spouse is so aggressive that it’s impossible to speak with them. They turn discussions into fights and use verbal threats or abuse to get what they want. An attorney can intervene in such situations and communicate with your spouse for you.
If, however, your spouse is willing to talk productively, it’s in your best interest to do so. The most beneficial settlement agreements are crafted by spouses who directly discuss what they want. Maintaining an open dialogue with your spouse can also save you the stress of a lengthy, protracted court battle.
5. Dating Again Too Quickly
Many attorneys agree the number one mistake people make in divorce is dating again too soon. It’s best to not get romantically involved with another person until your divorce is final. Your spouse may use your new relationship against you in the proceedings, and quickly introducing children to a new love interest can confuse them. Children tie their identities to their families. If that bond feels unstable, kids may respond with destructive behaviors.
6. Misleading Your Attorney
Even Houston’s top family divorce lawyer can only work with the information you provide. Failing to disclose all the facts of your case, or giving false information, can irreparably harm your divorce settlement.
It’s much better to be open and honest with your attorney, even about issues that have caused shame or embarrassment in the past. Your lawyer is bound by confidentiality and will not pass judgment. Instead, they will fight to protect your rights, but to do so effectively, they must be able to trust your word.
7. Forgetting to Change Your Will or Estate Plan
You want to ensure your will is always current within your legal rights. This framework shifts over time, however, especially with the occurrence of significant life events. It is, therefore, crucial you change your will or estate plan as soon as you file for divorce or the final decree is signed. You can then rest easy knowing your true wishes will be executed upon your death, and your loved ones will appreciate the time you took to create a new plan.
Your divorce is just that: your situation to control without allowing others to interfere. Only you will have to live with the decisions you make, and by avoiding common mistakes, you can look forward to a bright future. Remember to set aside your emotions, consider all tax implications, and speak honestly with your attorney. Also, wait to date, communicate with your spouse, and leave joint bank accounts intact until you’re advised to do otherwise.