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7 of the Worst Mistakes You Can Make in Your Divorce

1.  Misusing the Internet

Maybe you want to tell all of his family and friends what a two-timing loser he is.  Maybe you want to send an “I’ll show her” email.  Telling off your spouse, shaming them publicly, or just generally being nasty in public may feel extremely satisfying in the moment.  However, these communications don’t happen in a vacuum.  Rather, these statements may very well be introduced into court some time in the not too distant future.  Your spouse’s lawyer may very well present those nasty grams to the court to establish it is not in your children’s best interests for you to be the primary parent.  They may argue that you are immature.  Even if there isn’t an actual articulable legal basis to use your communications to win a point in a divorce, your communications can still put you in a bad light.

2.  Agreeing to a Settlement with a Plan to Ask the Court to Change It

The best time to negotiate a settlement is during the divorce process.  One cannot simply return to court on a whim to ask for a longer period of alimony, more child support, or an adjustment to the parenting time schedule.  Instead, unless there has been a significant change in circumstances, the divorce decree will likely stand.  Consequently, it is important to communicate your wants and needs to your divorce attorney.  They cannot negotiate a settlement you find favorable without knowing what is important to you.

3.  Withholding Information From Your Attorney

The list of facts people have withheld from their divorce attorney is long.  It can include:

  • Extramarital affairs
  • Debts
  • Assets
  • Domestic violence
  • Mental illness, including hospitalizations
  • Chemical dependency
  • Children from former relationships
  • Children from subsequent relationships

Under no circumstances is it a good idea to try to hide information from your divorce attorney.  At a minimum, it makes it more difficult to negotiate a settlement.  However, in certain situations, withholding information is a criminal or civil violation.  Further, dishonesty discovered during or after the divorce could threaten the finality of the negotiated settlement or ruling of the court.

4. Estimating Debt and Assets

Estimating both the value of an asset, as well as the extent of the debt, are both really bad ideas.  Sure it takes less time.  However, it can cost you in the long run.  There are no shortcuts when it comes to dividing assets and debts.  One must put in the work to make certain the data is complete and up to date.

5. Refusing to Pay for Experts

Divorce can be costly, there’s no doubt about that.  Hiring experts, of course, can add to those costs.  In the short term, it may seem to make sense to forgo hiring those experts.  But see number 4 above.  Your best guestimate about the value of the family business could be off – or it could be way off.  If you don’t accurately value the business, the antiques, the art collection, etc. you can’t reasonably expect a fair and just settlement.  Similarly, financial planners and parenting experts can be worth their weight in gold.  If your attorney tells you an expert is a good idea, believe them.  This is not the place to cut corners.

6. Assigning Emotional Value to Things

Of course you are going to be more attached to some objects than others.  However, when we assign emotional value to inanimate objects, we sometimes lose our ability to reason.  Most often, this is associated with the family home.  However, other items can also be valued emotionally more than they are worth financially.  The problem with this approach, of course, is that one fails to appreciate the financial value, because the emotional value trumps that.  Unfortunately, this can lead to bad financial decision making.

7. Not Listening To Your Lawyer

There are going to be times when your lawyer tells you something you don’t want to hear.  This is because in any divorce, it is inevitable that on some point or another, things will not play out the way you thought they would.  When it comes to interpreting the statutes and understanding the case law, you should trust your lawyer above all else.  Your lawyer does not share the same emotional triggers that you do.  Your lawyer, being far less emotionally tied to your case, can make independent assessments about the value of an offer to settle, or the risks of going to trial.  Sure, your friends may know you better, but your family law attorney has a far better grasp of the nuances of family law than your friends do.

Considering Divorce?

If you are considering a divorce, contact the family law attorneys at Fait & DiLima.  Our attorneys are knowledgeable and compassionate.  We know how difficult a divorce can be.  We work to calm the storm and get you back on track as soon as possible.  We are perfectly capable of litigating divorce cases.  However, we are also adept at negotiating settlements, mediation, and collaborative law.  Contact us for a consultation to see if we are a good fit for you.  Call (301) 888-6384 to schedule a consultation today.

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