Divorce is a difficult and emotional process that no one wants to go through. Matters get particularly complex when there are children involved or when dealing with a combative spouse. Tensions and stress levels rise, making it easy to slip into pitfalls that could have been easily avoided with a little careful planning and research.
Divorce is a life-changing decision, so you will want to cover all of your bases and protect yourself in order to ensure you receive a fair arrangement. If this is your first divorce, you will likely be in the dark about what to anticipate. Here are 12 common pitfalls to avoid in your divorce:
Many people choose to retain a divorce attorney. Seeking legal advice from an expert specializing in divorce can help to ease some anxieties and better equip you during the process. You definitely want to utilize your attorney’s expertise in divorce-related matters, however you should maintain a reasonable level of decisive control.
Remember that you are the one who must cope with the outcome, whether it is favorable or unfavorable, so it is vital that you voice your concerns and requests.
Have an open and honest discussion with your attorney to be sure he or she is committed to serving your best interests.
If you think you and your spouse can reach an amicable settlement on your own, you can consider handling the divorce without an attorney.
Allowing your family and friends to have too much control over you during your divorce is a very common pitfall. It is always comforting to have the love and support of family and friends during this challenging time. Though they may have good intentions and your best interests at heart, family and friends can also cause contention when you have them stirring up emotions that will cloud your judgment.
Keep a small circle of loved ones whom you trust, but maintain a reasonable amount of control over their influences. Keep in mind that you should avoid receiving legal advice from anyone unless he or she is a licensed attorney.
Taxes are not always easy to deal with but should be considered during the process of a divorce. If this seems too overwhelming, it will probably be a good idea to seek a financial expert with experience in divorce-related tax consequences. The decisions you make in your divorce will likely have tax-related consequences. Closely evaluate how you should handle these and what power the IRS has in matters relating to the transfer of assets and investments. Conduct some research to better prepare yourself so that you will not be blindsided with tax ramifications.
One can become vulnerable when it comes to finances. In some instances, one spouse is the individual who was in charge of managing finances and may have even been the sole or primary breadwinner in the family. This can, unfortunately, give that spouse an unfair advantage over the other.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, it is a good idea to educate yourself on your financial situation. You can prepare yourself by making copies of all pertinent financial records and having a plan for post-divorce income. Try to gather as much information as possible so that you are not left in the dark about finances.
Mediation can resolve a lot of issues and disagreements. You and your spouse may not agree on everything and have different perspectives on matters such as splitting assets, child custody, spousal support, etc. Mediation sometimes gets overlooked, but you may want to give it a try. You may actually find that many matters get resolved as you and your spouse seek mediation.
Mediation can make the divorce proceedings more bearable and less combative. Seek a professional who specializes in divorce. Having a neutral party initiate and oversee this process will be extremely beneficial for both parties.
In some cases, spouses can get so fixated on the demands of the other spouse and the matters they can’t agree on that they forget to look for common ground in settlement proposals. Settlement proposals should be closely evaluated by you and your attorney. Look for aspects of the proposal that will have an impact on:
Be aware of the consequences of accepting the terms of the settlement proposal. Blindly accepting or rejecting a proposal is not a good idea. Consider your post-divorce life and how it will be impacted. When settlement proposals are finalized into a divorce settlement agreement, be sure to review every detail so that you have a full understanding of the terms and their implications.
Divorce can put a huge hole in your pocket and has the potential to have a big financial impact. This is especially the case in situations where you were not the sole or primary breadwinner. You may be accustomed to a certain lifestyle that you will not be able to maintain post-divorce. You may also find that you are a single parent of several children, which will be challenging.
When getting a divorce, be sure to create a post-divorce financial plan. Make sure you are getting the proper child and spousal support, if applicable, and be sure that assets are fairly divided.
Consider how your finances will change and if you will have to adjust your lifestyle to fit a certain budget. Planning ahead will better prepare you for your post-divorce life and help you to avoid unexpected headaches.
Making agreements outside of the settlement papers is a definite mistake. Any agreements you make should be conducted using the proper divorce procedures. It is a positive thing to be able to have an open discussion with your soon-to-be ex-spouse and come to agreements on arrangements. However, be sure to keep your attorneys involved and not blindside them with surprise agreements made outside of settlement papers. Agreements made outside of settlement papers will not be enforceable since they were not documented.
It is easy to let your emotions get in the way of your progress. You may have a lot of hurt, anger, and resentment built up inside, and this can be tough to set aside in divorce proceedings. Strong emotions can cloud judgment. In many cases spouses are emotionally attached to assets. When children are involved, this can be particularly tough, and it is never helpful for spouses to become vengeful in divorce proceedings. This is why it is important to keep your emotions in check and approach divorce rationally and with fairness in mind.
Keep family and friends close to help you cope with the loss and seek counseling if necessary. Letting emotions get the best of you in a divorce can only prolong the process and make it more stressful.
Children always come first. This is important to remember. Divorce is hard on the parents, but remember that the real tragedy is suffered by the children. Kids are truly the innocent bystanders in a divorce, as they have to cope with the decisions made by their parents. Don’t get too caught up in getting back at your ex or having the upper hand in a divorce. Make sure you and your ex are placing the children’s best interests at heart, especially when it comes to proceedings related to child custody and visitation.
Talk with your children and assure them that, although mom and dad have differences, you both love them and support them during this challenging time.
Provide them with the security they need, and be sure that the outcome of the divorce will be in the best interest of the children.
Compromise is important in divorce. It is not the easiest thing to do and will take self-discipline on the part of both parties. Of course, you will want to make sure you are receiving a fair outcome. You and your spouse will have many differing demands. Compromise involves finding common ground, but mainly you both must be willing to give a little. It is unreasonable to think that each party will receive everything they want in a divorce and that every outcome will be in their favor. For this reason, it is important that both parties are willing to compromise a little.
If at all possible, do a lot of research before filing for divorce. In an effort to avoid these common pitfalls, make sure you cover all of your bases. The more preparations you do in advance of filing, the more equipped you will be in getting a divorce. LegalNature's article How to Create and File a Divorce Settlement Agreement can help you get started on your own divorce settlement agreement.
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