Going through a divorce can be stressful and difficult. The process of dissolution of a marriage can be mentally and physically exhausting for everyone involved and it is hard to always know what to do and when. While there is no simple guidebook for surviving a divorce, there are plenty of things that you can do to make this period of transition less challenging. Let’s look at the five mistakes you should try to avoid while navigating a divorce.
1. Letting Emotions Rule
Emotions are already running high when a marriage ends. But going through all of the proceedings being led by anger or other strong feelings can only end up creating more problems in the end. It’s common to feel as if you want revenge or to punish your spouse, but if you can put those feelings aside, evaluating the decisions you need to make will be less stressful and can end up costing you less time and money. You may want to consider counseling as an outlet for difficult-to-manage emotions, which will be far less expensive than relying on your attorney for emotional support. Your attorney should be expected to give you legal advice and information, explain your options and give you a cost-benefit analysis for the decisions you’re facing; but communicating your emotional reactions to dividing your assets, child-related issues and financial planning can increase your legal costs increasing your attorney’s billable hours. Being upset and emotional when facing divorce is completely normal and understandable, but being aware of your emotions and learning to manage them with a mental health professional may result in a more efficient and less tumultuous experience.
2. Not Prioritizing All Types of Financial Decisions
Scrutinizing the potential tax implications of decisions relating to dividing assets and planning for future separate tax filings can sometimes be overlooked or not prioritized, as most family law attorneys are not experts in taxation. Of course, your divorce attorney will be able to give you general legal advice about certain tax matters that are involved in nearly every divorce, but you may want to consider consulting with a tax attorney to ensure you have a full understanding of any nuances in your particular situation, especially if you have unique assets such as restricted stock units, if you have assets that are subject to significant capital gains, or if you have capital loss carryovers subject to being claimed on future returns. While negotiating the division of assets and liabilities, you want to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the future tax consequences of your ultimate decisions, particularly with regard to retirement benefits and dependent deductions.
3. Rushing the Process
Making it to the finish line during the seemingly endless process of marriage dissolution may seem like a priority while in the midst of divorce proceedings. But not taking the time to cover all legal aspects of the separation process carefully and thoughtfully is a mistake many people make. Thinking they will save money by rushing through the process often ends in missed loose ends, informal agreements that have to be revisited, or regrets later. Moving quickly to finalize a divorce also sometimes happens when one spouse thinks that their gracious behavior in agreeing to a fast finish will lead the other spouse to reconsider the divorce, but unfortunately that usually only leads to more hurt feelings when the divorce is finalized. Using all of the time necessary to complete the process instead of rushing to finish is the best way to ensure all financial and personal concerns are taken care of, both parties’ concerns have been addressed and neither spouse will suffer undue stress when the already-stressful situation concludes.
4. Taking Legal Advice from Friends
They have been by your side during the separation and divorce and you appreciate their input and support at every step. They may have even been through their own divorce as well. So should you listen to their personal advice on your situation? No, it’s not a good idea, and here’s why: legal advice can change over time, your divorce situation is unique to you and your lawyer is committed to following all legal requirements and rights for you during the divorce. Your friends and family can be an amazing emotional support system to rely on during this time, but their advice could end up costing you more money, time, and stress if it leads you to act in ways contrary to legal advice. They do not have the experience or legal knowledge to guide you through the divorce process.
5. Telling it All
We love to vent on social media about the highs and lows in our lives, but public platforms are not the place to air your soon-to-be ex’s dirty laundry or details about the divorce. Social media posts about the divorce, stressful negotiations, or even new purchases made during the divorce can all potentially be used against you during the proceedings or cause hard feelings between you and your family members. If your social media has already been flooded with your own negative feelings, experiences, or thoughts, consider removing them or locking down privacy controls until after the divorce is finalized to avoid any related consequences. Anything posted online is considered part of the public record and may prove to be problematic during the divorce if discovered.
In addition to social media, telling all the details of your divorce to family and friends is not a good idea either. While they can be excellent support systems for you to rely on during an emotionally-draining time, they may not keep the information to themselves. Since you are refraining from making public negative comments, they should also. Anything that casts a negative light on you or your family while the divorce is ongoing could potentially also be used during the divorce proceedings to further complicate your situation. Do not divulge every detail and also ask those around you to keep their knowledge about the situation private or neutral in public. Doing so can avoid needlessly stirring up more emotions or bad feelings of the other spouse that may lead to acts of angry retaliation before the divorce is finalized.