Top 10 Things NOT to Do When You File for Divorce
Please be advised that family law cases can be very complex and are unique to your specific situation. The information provided here is not legal advice or a legal opinion.
Deciding to file for divorce is not an easy decision that is made lightly. Once you have made the decision to go ahead and get divorced, however, there are certain steps that you can take to better prepare and protect yourself during the divorce process and beyond. This means that there are also actions that people considering filing for or going through a divorce should not do if they want to set themselves up in the best position. With that in mind, here is a list of the top ten tips on what you should avoid when filing for divorce.
1. Don’t Put Off Gathering Your Financial Documents.
Divorces require lots of documentation, which can take time to gather. Documents such as paystubs, account statements, mortgages, and car loans are all likely to be relevant to your divorce. Some spouses have bad reactions to being served divorce papers and will make it difficult for you to access documents after you have filed. Save yourself time and potential future headaches by gather all of the documents you will need before you file for divorce.
2. Don’t Use Your Children as Pawns.
Divorce is hard on children without their parents using them as pawns to get a “win” in the divorce or pushing them into a tug-of-war over which parent loves them more. Instead, continue to support them emotionally and financially, and love them unconditionally just as before the divorce. Baring extreme circumstance, you and your spouse will likely end up sharing custody of the children. If you and your spouse can come up with a workable arrangement that gives both of you time with the children based on your schedules and your children’s schedules, you will be leaps and bounds ahead of most couples who file for divorce.
3. Don’t Forget to Change Your Passwords.
Spouses are often aware of each other’s passwords for things such as email, financial accounts, and social media accounts. With all of the other distractions and circumstances that usually occur when people decide to file for divorce, however, most spouses forget to change their passwords. This could allow the other spouse to easily access all your financial accounts, read your confidential emails to your divorce attorney, or alter your information in these any of these types of accounts without your permission. Besides the embarrassment that this type of access will likely cause, these types of actions could have detrimental effects on your personal life, work life, or divorce proceeding. Therefore, take a proactive approach and be sure to change your passwords right away.
Also change/make-up odd security questions for the accounts, since your spouse likely knows the answers to the standard questions such as, “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What city were you born in?” If you cannot make-up a question (and sometimes you can’t), then make-up the answer. The computer does not know whether you are telling the truth; rather it is only ensuring that you provide consistent answers.
4. Don’t Post Compromising Updates or Photos on Social Media
Think twice before posting a rant about your spouse or posting an update that shows you drinking or engaging in an objectionable activity on social media. During a divorce, your ex-spouse may request that you produce your complete social media profile to use against you in court. We have been involved many case where a person’s Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit post directly contradicted their testimony and ultimately hurt their case.
5. Don’t Refuse to Negotiate or Mediate a Settlement.
From a legal prospective, marriages are a business partnership. Therefore, negotiation and mediation are about settling the business end of the marriage. It is better to put your emotions aside, deal with the business issues of the marriage that need to be dealt with, and then address your emotions separately.
Refusing to be reasonable during divorce settlement negotiations often land you in court, which means that more money is going to your attorney and you end up with far less to negotiate over. Do yourself a favor, save your money and be reasonable during negotiations.
6. Don’t Expect to Come Away with a Windfall.
People often do not realize the large impact a divorce will have on their finances. Besides attorneys’ fees and court costs, a divorce means that you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse will have to begin supporting two household on the same income that used to only have to support one, which means that you likely cannot afford to keep your house and all of the cars and all of the accounts and go on big vacations every year. If you were the breadwinner in your family, you might have to pay child support or spousal support. If you were the lower-earning spouse in your family, be prepared that support is likely much less than you originally expect. Either way, both sides will need to make financial adjustments.
7. Don’t Fight over Things You Don’t Care About.
It is easy for spouses going through a divorce to look at every item or every decision as a win for only one side or the other. However, this is when things start to backfire for couples, and they end up losing the things that are important to them while keeping things they never use. For example, don’t fight over the power tools you never use or the ugly vase your Great-Aunt Irma gave you as a wedding present, when you care more about fully custody of your children. Keep your eyes on your main goal and a bigger prize rather than sweat the small stuff.
8. Don’t Forget to Change Your Will & Other Estate Planning Documents.
Getting divorced does not automatically revoke a will or other estate planning documents, such as power-of-attorney documents or healthcare directives. If you do not want your soon-to-be-ex-spouse from receiving an inheritance from your estate, you need to update your estate planning documents. While you can update these documents at any time, if you die before updating you will, it could cause problems for your family, children, and loved ones in probate court.
9. Don’t Refuse to See a Therapist
Divorces are not an easy experience to go through emotionally. Therapists can provide you with the help you need to get through and manage the range of emotions that you will experience when dealing with a divorce. Therefore, it is a good idea to seek help before you become extremely depressed or angry. Therapists can not only provide you with the one-on-one support by being someone to talk to, but can also show you how to relax, teach you how to talk to you children about the divorce, and how to remain calm throughout the divorce proceeding. Critically, however, a therapist can help you figure out how to become self-sufficient and move forward with your life.
10. Don’t Go Through the Legal Process Alone.
The legal system can pose many different types of complications for individuals going through the divorce process on their own. It is always a good idea to contact an attorney when contemplating filing for divorce so you do not take certain actions that may negatively affect the divorce proceedings or you later on down the road. Hiring an attorney means that not only will you have someone to help you navigate this system, but that you have someone in your corner advocating on your behalf and protecting your financial estate and your custody rights.
At Gilbert Law, we work hard on behalf of our clients to protect their assets and rights to parenting time and custody by offering our customers efficient, customized service at reasonable prices. With our help, you will be able to take a step back and see what options are available to you to achieve your goals in order to make the right choice for your family moving forward.
If you are considering filing for divorce, contact us here for a phone consultation at no charge. We look forward to walking by you on this journey.