A divorce can be amicable or it can be contentious with couples fighting over child custody, marital assets, and accusing the other of hiding assets or lying about misconduct that could affect the division of property and support payments.
If you foresee a battle over a number of issues, you will need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side, but also one who can rationally and reasonably advise you. Still, there are mistakes that people make during a divorce that can result in more attorney fees and expenses and prolong the process.
Do not listen to your family and friends
A divorce is emotional and friends and family will hurry to your side and give you all types of advice and information about their own divorces or those of others. You have an attorney whom you hired to advise you on legal issues and how the process works and who should be fully informed about your financial affairs and custody matters. Listen to your attorney about how to proceed since he or she is in the best position to advise you.
Do not make decisions in haste or while in distress
Few people make rational decisions when upset. Getting revenge against your spouse is an empty exercise that will only cost you more in attorney’s fees and give you short-lived satisfaction. Wait until you are calm and discuss your concerns with your attorney.
Do not rush it
No one wants a divorce to linger but rushing through it just to get it over with can cause future problems and regrets. Carefully review any proposals and consider your financial and other legal options while discussing it with your attorney and before signing any documents.
Do not turn down mediation or other dispute resolution alternatives
Mediation or collaborative divorce are alternatives to litigation that bring the parties together to work out disputes in a non-litigious atmosphere. Many family law attorneys specialize in these areas, which offers you privacy and often less in attorney’s fees than having to litigate in court.
Do not withhold information from your attorney
One of the most egregious mistakes people make in a divorce is not telling their attorney everything, especially things that are adverse to your situation or what you are seeking. Anything you discuss with your attorney is confidential and may not be disclosed without your consent. If you fail to tell your attorney about certain assets or facts that are later uncovered by your spouse’s attorney, it could have a devastating impact on your case. Often, an attorney who becomes aware of negative factors early on can minimize their impact. If your attorney learns of these revelations at trial, there is little he or she can do and the court will punish you for not being truthful and for possibly lying to the court or while under oath during testimony or in completing financial statements.
Seek professional help
Not only do you need an attorney to help you with the financial and legal matters in a divorce, you may need professional help for depression. There are professional counselors who have expertise in divorce matters who can guide you in how to handle your emotions and offer you strategies in moving on to the next phase of your life.
Know the tax ramifications of your divorce
A divorce often requires the division of substantial marital assets. It also may require you to transfer part of your retirement account to your spouse, to sell real property or to pay spousal or child support. If you were claimed head of household status on your income tax, you could also claim your children as dependents and take earned income tax credit and child tax credits. If your spouse now has sole custody, this could all change.
Payments and property transfers have tax consequences as well. Discuss all the tax implications of becoming divorced with your attorney.