Divorce is a complex process. Those involved face legal, financial and psychological challenges, all while managing the everyday demands of work and parenting. Based on my many years of experience as a matrimonial lawyer, I have found that these 17 mistakes can be the most damaging to your case. Avoiding them can help guarantee good outcome, while helping you on your way to healing and fewer regrets.
1. Signing a legal agreement without understanding the agreement completely, and/or discussing it with a trusted friend, getting professional legal counsel, or thinking it through carefully.
2. Letting emotions — guilt, loneliness, embarrassment and fear — affect your decisions.
3. Not asking for help from professionals and trusted family members and friends.
4. Confiding too much and in the wrong people. Remember some of your friends are probably secretly grinning at your situation. Sift them out and end those relationships as they are toxic. They were not true friends to begin with.
5. Not knowing about or not including all assets and debts of the marital partnership in the divorce proceedings. You should know EVERYTHING your spouse owns or has an ownership interest. Your marriage is an economic partnership and half is yours . So go get it.
6. Moving out of your family home or leaving your children in your spouse’s custody temporarily, when your objective is to remain in the family home or to be the custodial parent.
7. Continuing divorce negotiations or mediation when it is no longer productive, financially feasible or emotionally worthwhile to do so. If you see your spouse is not budging on some things that are paramount to you. Mediation is over and its time to consult an attorney.
8. Initiating a divorce but then reconciling or living separately, leaving the divorce action undefined and in limbo.
9. Failing to fully define the reasons that led you to divorce and/or withholding crucial information about your spouse’s misconduct to avoid his/her wrath, embarrassment, or despair.
10. Assuming the settlement must conform to the terms a judge would order if your case went to trial — or to another prescribed formula — that does not consider the unique factors in your case.
11. Settling for less child support than you are entitled to and need. Don’t ever do this because if your spouse decides to have a second family , you will wish you fought for the child support due you, rather than having someone else’s child having the benefit your kindness, or lack of sophistication.
12. Believing what is your spouse’s is not yours — marriage is an economic partnership.
13. Failing to ensure continued child and/or spousal support with life and disability insurance.
14. Disregarding court orders.
15. Utilizing delay tactics by switching lawyers — more than twice is not a good idea.
16. Sleeping with those involved in your case including your attorney, marriage counselor, financial advisor, and real estate appraiser, among others.
17. Failing to move on and start your new life.
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