Divorce is extremely stressful and does cost money; but the entire process only gets worse if you make these avoidable mistakes.
1. Failing to make a game plan
It's rare that a divorce is simple, especially one that takes place after many years after marriage. Your attorney can better negotiate on your behalf if you provide all these details:
- Bank statements (for all personal and joint accounts) including savings, checking, money market, CDs, etc.
- Retirement plan statements and information (including how much you have in each account)
- Tax records for the past three years (minimum)
- Paycheck stubs or other income records for at least a year (your spouse's too, if you have them)
- Any copies either of you prepared for the purpose of bank loans (they'll have records of your net worth)
- Any documentation pertaining to all real estate you own (individually or jointly), including mortgage statements, initial purchase documents, refinance information, tax assessments, etc.
- Documentation of the current value of any tangible assets, such as cars, boats, RVs, motorcycles, jewelry, furniture, etc., as well as any debt on each asset.
- Documentation of any other debts such as credit cards, medical bills, unsecured loans) and whether the debt is in one name or both..
- Documentation on any life insurance either of you has
2. The DIY approach
A lot of people think taking care of divorces themselves is cheaper, especially when the divorce is amicable. Not only can that quickly change, but it's not unusual for people to later find out their spouse had a lawyer privately advising them.
3. Taking advice from people who aren't lawyers
Divorce law as it relates to your individual situation is very nuanced. Taking the advice of a friend may land you in a position that isn't in your best interest. Also, people may advise you to do some pretty crazy things, especially those who are angry on your behalf, just because they think that's how the world should work.
It's OK to look things up online but remember, that information is written in a very generic sense. Even when written by attorneys, it doesn't take into account every aspect that might apply to your case — it's not a legal textbook and may not apply to your state's laws. Ask your lawyer about anything you read online and they should be able to tell you how the information may or may not apply to your case.
4. Failing to take control
Opinions vary greatly as to whether it's a good idea to be the first person to file for divorce. In Florida, legally, there's no specific advantage to being the first to file because if you are served with a petition, you can simply include a counter petition with your answer. Of course, the petitioner (the spouse who files the petition first) has control over the fact that the divorce process has begun; however, this may or may not really benefit you.
5. Irrational demands
Be careful of being unwilling to compromise. Both of you may want everything but the problem is that if you continue to fight over assets and debts, your divorce just got a lot longer and more expensive, especially if both of you are irrational. Consider hiring a professional neutral third-party to act as a negotiator for the division of specific belongings out of court (chances are, if a judge has to make the decision, neither of you will be happy).
6. Not fully evaluating settlement proposals (including your own)
You may love driving that amazing 2015 Nissan GT-R you share with your spouse but before you fight for it, consider whether you can afford the payments (if it's still being paid off) and understand how much maintenance you'll also have to pay. If the fuel economy isn't great and the maintenance costs are thousands of dollars over a short period of time, you may find that you won the battle and harmed yourself in the long run. It may be a good idea to gather useful information from sources such as Automotive. com, before deciding what you really want.
7. Failing to realize children aren't property or tokens
Unless your spouse actually has issues that make them a danger to the kids, try to be fair, equitable and reasonable when discussing parenting issues. The court’s main concern will be the best interests of the children so you should practice the same approach before arguing about anything related to the kids. In all cases, involving the children in any adult dispute is harmful to the children and eventually will work against you in court.
8. Making oral agreements
Even if you're both on the same page, go through formal process of writing down any agreements, getting them signed and notarized and filed in your divorce case record. An official settlement is enforceable under the law and could lead to less trouble later if your friendly relationship sours.
9. Failing to consider post-divorce finances
It costs more to run two households than to run one. Before settling your divorce, you should consider how it will financially impact after your divorce is final. This will help you understand if you can actually afford the terms of the agreement.
10. Forgetting the I.R.S.
You and your spouse have a common goal in that you both want to minimize your exposure to paying more in taxes than you are required. A financial planner who is experienced in working with people going through divorce will be able to help you understand the tax implications of your divorce and whether you may incur additional taxes based, for example, on the assets you receive.
To learn more about your legal rights during your dissolution of marriage case, contact us today online or on the phone at 1-866-767-4711.