By Mitch Rice
If you’re in the middle of a divorce, it’s important that you move with precision. This is not the time to let down your guard and engage in rash or irresponsible behavior. It’s time to get serious and put forth your best effort.
Don’t Make These Common Divorce Mistakes
The problem with divorce is that it’s always unfamiliar territory. Chances are, this is your first divorce. In this case, you’re totally new to the process and don’t really know what to do, how to act, or what not to do. And even if you’ve been through a divorce before, you have to remember that divorces are never the same.
With this in mind, here are several mistakes you don’t want to make:
- Acting on Emotions
The biggest challenge in a divorce is finding a way to fight off the emotions. While every divorce is unique, each one has a concoction of emotions simmering beneath the surface. It’s common to feel things like anger, guilt, and vengeance. There might even be feelings of shame, bitterness, regret, and/or confusion.
It’s not wrong to feel emotions. In fact, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t feel emotions like these. The problem entails giving these emotions the power to fuel your decision making. Acting emotionally like this can lead you to make poor decisions.
When making important choices during your divorce, always give yourself time and space. Never make a decision on the spot without first taking some time for processing. (Hint: It’s often helpful to talk through it with an objective third-party who can help you evaluate the pros and cons.)
- Failing to Check Paperwork Accuracy
It takes a lot of paperwork to process a divorce. And even though attorneys fill out documents like this on a daily basis, they are people – and people make mistakes. Always carefully review paperwork for accuracy (including the paperwork filed by the opposing attorney). This can prevent headaches that could slow down or compromise your case.
- Not Hiring an Attorney
Technically, you have the right to represent yourself in your divorce; however, this is a massive mistake. Chances are, your spouse will have an attorney. If you try to go up against a seasoned divorce attorney without any of your own professional experience, you’ll get taken advantage of.
In addition to hiring an attorney, make sure you’re being extremely open and transparent with them. While it’s smart to keep your mouth shut around other people, your lawyer is your safe space. Be open with them!
“If you try to hide information and keep secrets, it’ll come back to hurt you. Your attorney is your strongest ally,” says Rowdy G. Williams, a divorce attorney in Indiana. “If there’s something you’re too embarrassed about to tell your attorney, you can bet that your ex is going to tell their attorney, so it’s going to come out regardless.”
Your attorney is probably the most important person in your divorce proceeding. When hiring an attorney, make sure it’s someone who is experienced, accessible, and proven. Don’t hire someone who is fresh off passing the bar exam and looking to prove themselves.
- Not Considering Tax Implications
Your divorce potentially involves the division of marital assets and/or spousal support. In other words, there are significant financial ramifications that will impact your life for years to come. It would be a grave mistake to ignore the tax implications when creating a settlement agreement.
If you want to know the truth, you should involve your financial advisor and/or CPA in the process of drafting a settlement agreement. They can work with your attorney to ensure all assets, retirement plans, pensions, real estate, etc. are properly valued, divided, and optimized so that you don’t overpay on your taxes.
- Bad-Mouthing Your Spous
As much as you might have hostile feelings toward your spouse, avoid bad-mouthing them in front of your children, friends, neighbors, or loved ones. There will be plenty of time to get some difficult things off your chest in the future.
For now, anything you say and do can be used as leverage against you in the divorce. It’s best to remain calm on the outside and be the “bigger” person.
Set Yourself Up for Success
It’s difficult to consider a divorce a success. Because, at the end of the day, it’s not the intended outcome you had hoped for when you got married. With that being said, there are certain outcomes that you’re aiming for when you enter into the divorce process.
Achieving these outcomes is as close to “success” as you’ll get. Good luck!
Data and information are provided for informational purposes only, and are not intended for investment, medical or other purposes.