Divorce is already a trying time. For many people, it’s a difficult experience. The divorce process poses many potential challenges. It’s a life-changing decision and is often associated with feelings of guilt, anger, regret, sadness, and loneliness. While it’s not uncommon to experience these emotions, you don’t want to let them control your actions. These common divorce mistakes can leave a lasting impact emotionally and financially on one or both parties. We’ve compiled a list of how to avoid the most common mistakes people make during divorce that makes the whole process of getting divorced much worse than it has to be.
Common Divorce Mistakes to Avoid
Some of the most common divorce mistakes seem like common sense. However, when you add emotion to the process, it can become more difficult to recognize these mistakes and errors in judgment. As a result, the professional team at The Jimenez Law Firm put together this list of things you can do to avoid mistakes during your divorce.
1. Try to avoid acting out of anger, revenge, or guilt.
While it is completely acceptable to experience these emotions and more during the course of your divorce, it is not acceptable or advisable to take action based on these emotions. When you act on emotion instead of rational thought, there’s a much greater chance you’ll make decisions that can negatively impact you or your children in the future. To help keep these emotions under control, it’s a good idea to seek out a qualified divorce attorney, therapist, or counselor to help guide you in making reasonable decisions during your divorce.
2. Focus on quality legal advice.
Chances are, you have family members or friends who have first-hand experience with divorce. It’s important to remember that they are not family law attorneys. Legal advice often varies from case to case. Never take legal advice from anyone other than a qualified divorce lawyer who has your best interests at heart. Divorce is complicated. Listening to bad advice can greatly impact asset division and the future for you and your child or children. You should only take divorce advice from qualified and competent legal professionals. They fully understand your rights and responsibilities throughout the divorce process and beyond.
3. Don’t agree to a one-sided settlement.
Regardless of if you initiated the divorce or not, it’s important for your financial future that you do not make or accept a one-sided settlement agreement. This is especially true if you’re the spouse who will be negatively affected by the agreement. While it is tempting to hurry through mediation and divorce proceedings by signing the first agreement your spouse gives you, it’s virtually impossible to undo a voluntary agreement after the divorce is finalized. This is why you should have divorce lawyers in your corner, to help ensure you’re fighting for what you’re entitled to.
4. Check all paperwork for accuracy.
Attorneys are people and people sometimes make mistakes. It’s important you check any paperwork you sign for accuracy, especially any paperwork coming from the opposing legal team. Never sign anything unless it accurately portrays your agreement.
5. Consider taxes.
A big part of a divorce settlement is the division of property and assets as well as child support and spousal support. As you work to reach an agreement it’s important to consider potential tax consequences. This is especially true in the event that the settlement includes the division of a pension or retirement plan. Failing to take these into account could leave you with less than you anticipated.
6. Communicate with your spouse when appropriate.
Typically, the best settlements come out of the mediation process where both spouses are willing and able to negotiate with each other and their respective attorneys. Maintaining a civil line of communication as you work through the divorce negotiations can save a costly battle in family court.
7. Don’t rush into a new relationship.
While you may be excited to move on to the next phase of your life, it’s important that you don’t rush into a new relationship too quickly. If you’re legally still married to your spouse, it’s best to avoid becoming romantically involved with anyone before the divorce is finalized. Your spouse may use the new relationship against you during the divorce process. In addition, flaunting a new relationship could potentially anger your previous partner and make him or her more hesitant to reach an agreement. New relationships can also be confusing and traumatic for kids if they occur too soon after your previous marriage has ended.
8. Don’t hide things from your attorney.
Your attorney will develop a divorce strategy based on the information and details you provide. If you don’t disclose information related to your case or if you intentionally mislead your attorney, then you may harm your case. Be open and honest with your attorney and if you’re not sure if they need to know something, you can always ask. Remember that they’re there to help you. The last thing they want is to be put in a position where they aren’t able to adequately fight for your rights.
9. Remember to change your will, estate plan, and retirement beneficiaries.
You should always remember to update any legal documents and beneficiaries after your divorce. This helps ensure your wishes are carried out after your passing. Far too often people forget to update this information and the former spouse makes things complicated and difficult for the rest of your family. All of this is especially true if you remarry. Without updating your retirement account, life insurance, estate plan, and will then your current and ex-spouses may have a legal battle ahead of them. Also, in many states, a significant life event such as a divorce may invalidate your previous will.
10. Be realistic about your post-divorce finances.
It’s important to plan for the reality of transitioning to a one-income household that you’re now solely responsible for. Create a financial plan or budget to understand your income and expenses and get ready for the transition. You may also want to speak with a financial planner or financial advisor. Most importantly, hold off on adding to any current debt if possible, and don’t assume that all marital debts will be taken care of. If you and your spouse accumulated debt together then your divorce settlement should state who is responsible for paying that debt. In addition, remember to remove your name from the liabilities you are no longer responsible for including the mortgage, personal loans, and credit cards. This will help protect you from any debts you are no longer responsible for.
11. Don’t resume intimate relations with the person you’re divorcing.
It can be difficult for a divorcing couple to let go of the emotions they’ve felt throughout the course of their relationship. However, it’s vital that you don’t allow these emotions to land you back in the bedroom. This could cloud your judgment and lead to non-beneficial decisions. Unless you both agree to try to reconcile, you’re only jeopardizing your position in the divorce case.
12. Don’t make oral agreements concerning your divorce with your spouse.
Even if your relationship with your spouse is amicable, it’s best not to enter into any oral agreements regarding divorce issues. While this may seem cold and displease your spouse, it’s important that you discuss any agreements with your lawyer and include them in your written settlement. It’s very difficult to enforce oral side agreements. If your spouse agrees to the terms, then they should have no problem putting it in writing in the official settlement.
13. Hire an attorney.
Many people believe they can make it through their divorce without an attorney. This is often untrue. Do not allow your spouse to convince you not to hire independent counsel. You are entitled to your own representation and not hiring an attorney will put you at a disadvantage, especially if your spouse has an attorney of their own. Even if you both have the best of intentions and you’re having an uncontested divorce, your respective legal teams will ensure everything is done correctly. It’s very difficult to change a divorce settlement after the fact, even if it was an honest mistake. It’s best to let the professionals ensure everything is right the first time so you can move forward with your life.
14. Don’t use your children as pawns.
It’s been proven that divorce can have a negative impact on children, even more so than it affects adults. Don’t force your child or children to act as an intermediary between your spouse and yourself. They aren’t responsible for filling the gap in your household. This is not their burden. Using your child as a pawn or trying to turn them against their other parent can lead to resentment from your children and your spouse. You could potentially cause permanent damage to the relationship you have with your child. Whenever possible it’s best not to speak of the other parent negatively in front of your child or to your child. Not only can this cause a rift in your relationship, but Texas courts take parental alienation very seriously. You may find that your actions have a negative effect not only on the child but on child custody as well.
15. Take control of your divorce.
Throughout the stages of divorce, you should always keep one thing in mind. This is your divorce. No one else should have control of the process. Don’t let friends and family control what you do. Even your attorney should be on the same page regarding your wants and needs. You’re the one who will live with the decisions made so you should be the one in control. Don’t be afraid to be firm regarding your decisions. While it’s a good idea to consider legal advice from your lawyer, ultimately everything is your decision. Playing an active role in the divorce process often results in a more satisfactory outcome.
Hiring an Attorney for Your Divorce
Hiring an attorney can have a dramatic difference in the final result of your divorce case. Here at The Jimenez Law Firm, we take pride in helping our clients with filling out divorce papers, as they are filing for divorce, through divorce mediation, and through divorce proceedings. We’re experienced in family law and divorce law and can navigate the waters of property division, child support, and child custody while helping you avoid costly divorce mistakes.
An experienced divorce attorney or family law attorney understands the ins and outs of divorce and what divorce mistakes may end up costing you the most. We’re here to think about your future and how things will be in the long run.