7 Most Common Mistakes When Preparing for a Divorce

Divorce is a complicated process requiring a serious approach and investment of financial and intellectual resources.

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גירושין נישואין זוגיות משפחה ילדים הורים ילד Divorce, fight (iStock)
גירושין נישואין זוגיות משפחה ילדים הורים ילד Divorce, fight (iStock)
iStock

Divorce is a complicated process requiring a serious approach and investment of financial and intellectual resources. The proper conduct of the divorce proceedings can lead to its successful outcome, while mistakes inevitably lead to failure.

Many spouses seeking divorce often make hasty decisions neglecting the consequences for both parties’ families and financial standing. According to data from CompleteCase.com, 21% of couples decide to represent themselves in court and proceed with the divorce independently. At least 17% of spouses in such situations are left unsatisfied with the outcome.

Naturally, simple divorces with no expensive property and minor children can be obtained quite peacefully. But even in seemingly simple cases, there can be pitfalls, not to mention complex divorce proceedings, where spouses have substantial property. Therefore, you should consult a specialist and study the issue in detail before taking decisive action.

How do you protect your rights in case of divorce?

The main elements of any divorce include the division of property, the determination of child custody, and the appointment of financial support for the children and former spouse. Although there are clear laws for each of the above points, their implementation in practice is not so simple and straightforward.

For example, what is the right way to divide a house that one spouse bought before the marriage, and the other invested money into renovating during the marriage? Does the spouse who is a primary custodian have any rights for an extra portion of property or other benefits? The answers to these questions are ambiguous — it all depends on the situation and many other factors.

The first step you can take to protect your rights is to avoid common mistakes that people make under the influence of impulse and fear of being left with nothing. Besides, your relatives and friends may advise you to save money on professional help and manage things yourself. But only if you have discussed everything and agreed on the terms of the divorce with your spouse can you proceed without a lawyer.

In reality, finding reliable, up-to-date information is not so easy. The Internet is full of outdated or false information and unprofessional comments. A person without legal education will struggle with the nuances of family law and spend a lot of energy understanding them. On top of that, after preparing all the necessary papers, you won’t have time to figure out the laws.

Frequent divorce mistakes and how to avoid them

The desire to end the divorce proceedings as soon as possible can turn into a whole string of mistakes that will lead to inevitable problems in the future. It’s true what they say that haste makes waste. So when the stakes are high, carefully consider each step and make any decisions after weighing all the pros and cons.

So, here is the list of most common mistakes you should avoid.

Trusting your spouse with finances

Ideally, even before going to court and beginning the divorce proceedings, it is advisable to understand your family’s financial situation. Quite often, only one of the spouses deals with the financial side of living together, while the other does not delve into these issues. If you are the ignorant one, then it's time to change the situation. Otherwise, your spouse may incur debts, which you won’t find out about until during the divorce process, and you both will have to pay them back.

Keeping jointly-owned bank accounts

A loan by one of the spouses will become a financial liability of the current bank account and credit cardholders. So, even if one of the spouses agrees to take full responsibility for paying off debts, the other partner may be held liable in the future. Creditors do not care about what you agreed to with your spouse during the divorce — they are only interested in your agreement with them. Ideally, you should close all joint accounts and transfer your funds to new accounts in your name only.

Secretly selling joint property

Quite often, one of the spouses during a divorce sells a joint property without the other party’s consent to save assets from division. Such actions are unlawful and will not bring the desired result. The marital property must be divided following applicable laws or by agreement between the parties. The court will either give the due part of the sale to the other spouse or award compensation at the expense of the dishonest spouse’s property.

Failing to maintain records and important papers

One of the most unfortunate mistakes that many of us make is not keeping documents confirming the purchase of items or services that may be useful in the future. This advice is especially relevant for those situations when you started to acquire things before the divorce process, which has not yet been completed. Checks and other payment documents will serve as proof of the date of purchase, excluding your spouse's right to the items or services, if payment was not made from a joint bank account.

Believing in the legitimacy of verbal agreements

Some spouses do not always turn to a lawyer to formalize their property rights to save money. The hope that a verbal agreement on the division of property in a divorce will be sufficient is frankly ridiculous. Any agreements regarding the property must be recorded on paper. It is best to have a prenuptial contract with clearly defined terms and conditions on how the property will be divided after a divorce. Another option is to draw up and notarize a similar agreement before going to court.

Spending all your money on a lawyer

Divorce proceedings can take quite a long time. Throughout this period, you will have to pay a lawyer for their services. As a result, much of what you have gained will be spent on paying for these services. It may be worth talking to your spouse and trying to agree on at least some points. If your negotiations are successful, then sometimes you can do without a lawyer altogether.

Relying too much on yourself

Although spending all your savings on a lawyer is not the best solution, you should not entirely refuse legal assistance either. Court decisions are often far from your expectations of what is fair in your particular case. The more information you collect and the better you prepare for the proceedings, the better chance you will have to win. At least consult with a professional before filing for divorce or signing anything. It is not nearly as expensive as hiring an attorney, and you will certainly get some valuable advice.

Conclusion

During the preparation and throughout the entire divorce, many difficulties arise that are not always easy to solve quickly and efficiently. Therefore, this process must be approached consciously and comprehensively. Naturally, it is impossible to foresee absolutely everything, but you can reduce errors to a minimum. In case you have doubts that you can figure out everything on your own, seek advice from a lawyer or other specialists on specific financial issues.



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