Mistakes made during a divorce can affect your life in permanent ways. Failing to prepare and gather information, neglecting to consider your children and even overlooking all of your divorce options could be detrimental to your future.
Are you currently in the middle of a complicated divorce, or considering parting from your spouse?
Read on for the six most common mistakes couples make during the divorce process.
1. POOR FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
Finances are the most important consideration during a divorce. For the process to move smoothly with little complication, it is best to provide accurate financial information.
Be honest about your marital debt and assets, and provide paperwork that includes:
- Bank accounts (checking, savings, money market, etc…)
- Retirement Accounts (401k, IRA, Pensions, etc…)
- Other investment accounts (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, etc…)
- Titles (to real property, vehicles, and expensive assets);
- Property deeds;
- Credit card statements and balances;
- Loans (mortgage, car loan, personal loan, student loan, etc…); and
- other financially binding contractual agreements.
The more information you can furnish, the better. Your attorney will be able to determine what is important and advise you as to how each of the assets and debts should be handled.
What you provide to your attorney is privileged, so make sure you provide as much as possible in order to get the best advice.
2. NOT CONSIDERING MEDIATION
When couples consider divorce, the first thought is often associated with testifying in court with long attorney meetings, trying to determine an appropriate settlement. Although this process becomes necessary for many couples, it is not the only way.
Mediation is a method for which both parties and their respective lawyers all join in communication with the support of a mediator to help address demands and allocate property/possessions.
If communication between you and your spouse is still productive, mediation will certainly be advantageous for you to complete your divorce. Even if the communication between you and your spouse has broken down, then mediation can still be successful if you let your attorney’s do the talking.
Not only is mediation less expensive than going to trail, but it often takes far less time to finalize the entire process. Also, it is the only guaranteed way to know for sure what your outcome will be.
3. OVERLOOKING THE CHILDREN
With emotions high or your personal life in a whirlwind, many couples lose sight of the bigger picture during the divorce negotiation process. If you and your partner have children, keep their best interests in mind by remaining as neutral and calm as possible toward your ex spouse.
Remember that children love their parents – both of them – and speaking bad about the other parent in the presence of your children will only hurt you, and your case.
4. FORGETTING ABOUT TAXES
Keeping in mind a few standards can help you better organize your finances. Child support cannot be written off on taxes, but is tax-free income to the receiving spouse.
If you are providing alimony, you may be able to write off your amounts and the ex-spouse may be required to pay taxes on the payments as income.
Having an attorney’s advice is essential in understanding how alimony can affect your tax situation, whether you are paying alimony, or receiving it.
Tax credits such as the earned income tax credit (EITC) will change depending on who will claim the children. It is also important to note that a trial court judge deciding your divorce case does not have the authority to award a dependency exemption to either party.
However, if the parties agree to the dependency exemption, their agreement is binding. Further, it is important to note that a trial court judge cannot later modify the terms of a dependency exemption – modifications of tax related issues can come only by subsequent agreement of the parties.
Therefore, it is essential to get it right the first time!
5. REFUSING TO NEGOTIATE
Don’t get obsessed with ‘winning’! Also, understand that your definition of ‘winning’ may be altered throughout the process. In an effort to reach the best agreement, both parties must be open to compromising on particular assets.
It is completely permissible and encouraged that you speak up for the requests that you desire. Also, that you follow your attorney’s advice on what is or is not feasible in your given situation.
6. COMPARING YOUR SITUATION TO SOMEONE ELSE’S
Attorneys hear this all the time, “But in my friend’s case…” or “When my brother got divorced…” You must understand that each and every case is different and unique. There are small nuances that can make big differences.
Plus, having quality legal representation will most certainly alter your outcome. So, be patient and understand that your case will be handled in a manner that is appropriate for your situation, not just like your neighbor’s was.
HOW TO AVOID THESE ISSUES
There are many mistakes that couples experience throughout the divorce process and our goal is to ensure that you are making the best choices as you move through this difficult time.