Jack’s Top 10 Things NOT to Do When In A Divorce
As anyone who’s gone through a divorce can tell you, the process is rarely easy. Tensions run high, and couples often make poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Given the mountain of financial, practical and emotional details that have to be sorted, it’s not surprising so many couples wind up making critical mistakes on the road to divorce. That said there are a number of key things you should do, or more specifically not do, to lessen the chance you’ll regret your decisions later on. Here are the top 10 tips on what to avoid when filing for divorce.
10. Don’t Increase Your Debt
Divorce is expensive. On top of attorney’s fees, you will need money to set up a new household. Though it may be difficult to make ends meet, you should get used to having less now. Remember, your legal bills and court costs may come due before you receive your first payment of alimony or even your share of the marital property. While it may seem stressful, the freedom you’ll enjoy down the line will be well worth the struggle.
9. Don’t “Settle” Early
Just because you want out of your marriage immediately doesn’t mean you should forfeit your financial security. Make multiple copies of all of your important financial documents, pension statements, tax forms, brokerage and mutual fund statements, credit card statements, and other records. It will make you aware of what you own and even what you owe. Make sure that you and the children will continue to have health insurance during and after the divorce proceedings. While you are still married to your spouse, an illness or accident can change how property is divided. If you and your spouse can work out an amicable agreement on your own, you can file what’s known as an “uncontested” divorce. This will save you both time and money in court costs. If this is simply not possible, you may want to hire a professional mediator or an attorney. If you decide to retain legal counsel, remember to bring 3 things to the first meeting with your lawyer so you can assess what you will need once separated: a balance sheet listing the family’s assets and debts, an accounting sheet of your income and expenses, and your tax return.
8. Don’t Forget About Taxes
Typically, the person who is awarded custody of the children gets the house. But the house may not be the best deal. If you can’t afford the mortgage, taxes and upkeep on the house, you want to ask for the investment portfolio of equal value instead. However, before declaring yourself king or queen of your block, remember:single people are not allowed to shelter as many capital gains from taxes. Stocks can also be at issue. Newly-purchased stocks may be more desirable because they will cost you less in capital gains taxes.
7. Don’t Wait Until After the Holidays
You already know the holidays are not going to be difficult. So why wait? Divorce lawyers often see an increase in clients before, during, and after Christmas. It’s also easier to get used to an empty home before the holidays. If you wait (and fight) through the season, you may destroy any chances for an amicable split and wind up hashing out your differences in court.
6. Don’t Refuse to See a Therapist
Seeing a therapist can help you get through the range of emotions that you will experience during your divorce. It is a good idea to get help before you become extremely depressed or angry. A therapist is not just someone to talk to. They are also a professional who can show you how to relax, how to talk to your kids, and how to remain calm in court. Most importantly, a therapist can help you figure out how to become self-sufficient.
5. Don’t Take It Out On the Kids
Children need a supportive environment to deal with divorce. Minimize the amount you talk about the process. It will give you more time to be there for them. Refocus your energy so you can attend their school and after-school events, help them with homework, and take them out once in a while to the movies or the zoo. When you are relaxed, they get more relaxed. Though you should be comfortable talking with your children about the divorce, the point of this divorce is to relieve stress on you and your family.
4. Not changing passwords to emails and other sensitive information.
One of the biggest mistakes that people can make when going through a divorce is forgetting to change the passwords to their email or social media accounts, thus giving the other party access to sensitive and private information that can later be used against them.
Remember that emails and other communication is admissible in court and is quite often used. Leaving emails open and exposing your highly sensitive information to your soon to be ex spouse can be devastating to the outcome of your divorce settlement. Always ensure that you change all passwords – including email, phone, social media sites that you belong to and anything else that the other party can use against you
3. Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of Collaborative Divorce or Mediation
In a collaborative divorce, you can get the help of professionals-attorneys, divorce coaches and therapists, to divide property and manage emotional stress. Some critics of collaborative divorce believe that attorneys, divorce coaches and therapists who engage in collaborative divorce are not really experts, and cost too much time and money. But the majority of jurisdictions with collaborative divorce have stated that collaborative divorce is more cooperative and less adversarial than traditional divorce.
Mediation is different. Only one third-party professional-a divorce mediator-helps you and your spouse reach an agreement. Mediation is more of an-ongoing process than a one-time intervention. Although lawyers are generally not allowed into mediation sessions, you can consult a lawyer at any time during the process to make sure you are getting the right result.
2. Don’t Forget to Change Your Will
Divorce does not automatically revoke a will. If you want to prevent your soon-to-be-ex-spouse from receiving the monies and privileges granted them in your will, you need to update your will. You can re-do a will at any time. But if you die before you are granted a divorce, and you have left your spouse nothing, he or she can sue and recover part of your estate.
1. Don’t Get Pregnant
Having a baby during your divorce complicates a lot of things, and could even hinder your right to divorce. In one case I recently handled, a judge refused to allow the couple to get divorced because the woman was pregnant with another person’s baby. State law presumes state law presumes the current husband is the father of the child. The judge refused to grant a divorce because he was concerned there would be no father to take financial responsibility for the child. Although many states now grant single parents the same rights as married ones, having a child when you’re in marital limbo can be problematic.
Here is some extra help on how & why to improve your communication during and after the divorce.