Six Common Divorce Mistakes
N0. 1: Making Decisions out of your emotions
There is always a plethora of emotions associated with ending a marriage. Most people just want to get it over with as quickly as possible. However, haste makes waste. The decisions you make about your divorce will affect your life for a very long time to come. You must approach your decisions from a financial standpoint and make sure the decisions you make are wise and not guided by fear, revenge, guilt or greed.
NO. 2: Allowing your spouse to convince you to use the same attorney or obtain a divorce without the assistance of counsel
I have personally witnessed cases where one spouse has convinced the other spouse that they do not need an attorney and that they can work out the terms of their divorce without seeking the advice of a professional. The parties believe that they are saving themselves money by not using an attorney to help them. It almost never ends well for the spouse that agrees not to seek counsel.
Even if you are the one seeking a divorce and just want out, you need to know what your legal rights are and understand your entitlement under Florida law. At the very least, you should have a family law attorney review any marital settlement agreement you intend to enter into with your spouse. This can save you a whole lot of trouble and regret in the future and if you have children, you have a duty to make sure they are properly considered and you have a parenting plan to make sure their needs are met.
An experienced family law attorney will be able to assess your case, looking at the length of your marriage, marital assets and your entitlement to spousal support. PLEASE DO NOT waive your claims to any assets or support without the advice of an attorney. Listen carefully to the advice of your attorney and use their knowledge and guidance to obtain a fair and equitable settlement. Once you have signed that martial settlement agreement it is usually too late.
NO. 3: Not knowing the marital finances
In many marriages, one spouse will be in charge of the finances and the other spouse will have very little knowledge about the amount of marital assets and liabilities. In many cases, the spouse in control of the marital assets will use that control to take advantage of the unknowing spouse and obtain more than their share of the marital assets through a divorce.
Both spouses should be aware of the financial state of their marriage. If you are not in control of the marital finances, it is important that you at least keep track of the marital assets and liabilities on a regular basis by doing the following:
- Obtain on-line access to your bank accounts and make copies of bank statements or download them to a secure file.
- If your spouse refuses to provide you with joint tax returns, contact the IRS and get copies.
- Credit card statements are equally important so you will know whether your spouse ran up debt on joint credit cards immediately before filing for divorce.
- Make sure in the event of a divorce or separation, you have access to enough money to hire your own attorney and for any other expenses, you will be responsible for until the assets are divided.
- Know about financial issues such as life insurance, retirement accounts, stock options, and even country club memberships.
NO. 4: Failing to properly evaluate the distribution of marital assets for the financial future of yourself and/or your children
Many spouses, in an attempt to avoid confrontation give up their fair share of the marital estate, taking on the mentality that “Money is not the most important thing in life”. While you do not want to be greedy and discussing the division of marital assets can be painful, it not as painful as barely scraping by financially knowing that you could have put yourself and your children in a better financial decision by making sure that you received your fair share of the marital estate through your divorce.
You have one opportunity to get what you are entitled to through the equitable distribution of marital assets in a divorce. If you do not feel confident in your ability to fight for what you deserve, do yourself a big favor and hire an attorney who will fight for you this is the best choice you can make for your future.
NO. 5: Not securing your child and spousal support payments
Once the amount of child support and spousal support has been determined, obtain income withholding order from the Court, that way your support will come directly out of your spouse's paycheck. In addition, request that your spouse obtain and life insurance policy to cover the future support payments in the event of his or her death. Your attorney can provide you with more details on how this can be accomplished.
NO. 6: Believing your spouse's bad behavior will be considered by the Court when distributing the marital assets
Many clients have come to me with the belief that because their spouse committed adultery they will be punished financially by the Court. This does not happen, no matter how bad your spouse behaved during your marriage, that bad behavior will not translate into more marital assets being awarded to you.
The only fact that the court will consider is if the Court finds that your spouse has dissipated substantial marital assets on an affair or as a result of his or her bad behavior.
If, for example, your spouse spent a substantial amount of your marital money on vacations or gifts for their lover or gambled away your entire savings at the casino—then you may be entitled to recover additional assets to offset the dissipation of marital assets by your spouse. You will have to prove to the judge that your spouse dissipated the marital that for that reason the judge should award you a larger portion, so this is another very good reason to make sure you have access to all of the financial records mentioned above in NO. 3.
Otherwise, the judge will neither care about the bad behavior of your spouse nor try to “punish” your spouse for that behavior.
To sum up this article, it is imperative that you take an active role in your divorce and
seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.