Smith-Hynes Law Firm LLC

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Top 10 Legal Mistakes in Divorce

Posted by Colby Smith-Hynes on December 3, 2015 at 12:20 AM

Author, Loriann Hoff Oberlin’s "Surviving Separation and Divorce," is a book written depicting the realities of the divorce process.  Since many clients have never been through the process before, it is daunting to envision what they will be faced with.  This author has developed a list of the top ten mistakes people make while going through a divorce that I explain in more detail.  I encourage anyone who is considering divorce or even those already going through the process to read this.

Mistake 1: Believing your spouse will be fair and cooperative.

Have no expectations on the outcome or the process, nor the frame of mind your estranged spouse once you begin the divorce process. The court system is designed without consideration for feelings or emotions attached.  While you certainly may be on friendly terms with your estranged spouse, all bets are off once the divorce process begins and both parties are out for themselves.  This doesn't mean you need to be greedy and vengeful, it simply means if there was ever a time to put yourself first, this is the time to do it!  The decisions you make in the proceedings will affect your life in a multitude of ways.  Do not give in to demands and pressures from the other party in hopes that "you can remain friendly" or out of fear of repercussions....after all, you are going through a divorce for a reason right?  Keep this in mind, listen to your attorney's advice and be prepared for claws to come out at some point from the other party. 



Mistake 2: Having totally unrealistic expectations or demands of what you will gain from the divorce.

Your attorney has your very best interest in mind while representing you.  He will likely get a feel for what you can expect to gain from the divorce and what will likely be considered unrealistic and will inform you of this.  Your attorney will not sugar-coat the situation and make false promises to you on what he THINKS the judge should do.  Knowing case law and the procedures of the court room, he will be honest with you on what you can expect to happen.  When going through the process, be as reasonable as you can with keeping the objective of problem-solving in your mind.  


Mistake 3: Not asking appropriate questions or signing documents without asking questions.

Although your attorney doesn't have a magic ball to forecast the outcome of your case, ask him/her what he/she believes are the chances the result will be in your favor.  What kind of information would help your case? Anything you can do during the process to foster a more favorable outcome?  If your attorney gives you a list of items you need to submit, please do your part to acquire this information as soon as you can.


Mistake 4: Withholding information from you attorney.

We've learned this rule very early in our lives.  Withholding information is essentially the same as a lie.  Your attorney isn't here to judge you, but to help you.  If he/she has 100% of the information about your case, it will benefit you in the long run. 


Mistake 5: Not checking facts or figures given you by attorneys and others.

Legal forms are daunting to read and most people will happily move through them as quickly as possible.  Don't make this mistake! Be very aware of what you are writing, what you are reading and what you are signing.  Most attorneys have assistants that help prepare court documents and will require you to sign them upon completion.  Make sure you fully read and agree to what you are signing prior to them being submitted into the court system. If you discover an error or inaccuracy, do not be afraid to speak up and let your attorney know.  It is much easier and cost efficient for you to revise documents prior to submitting them versus after.


Mistake 6: Allowing emotions rather then logic to rule your legal decisions.

Divorce is a sticky time in your life and can be emotionally charged.  We all say things we don't necessarily mean when we are angry or hurt.  When we feel like our world is crashing down around us, it is hard to stay focused on the bigger picture of remaining calm and collective.  Allow yourself time to grieve the loss of the marriage as well as the frustration of trying to build a brand new life for yourself and your family, but do not let your emotions and attitude dictate your settlement requests and court responses. This will only make matters worse.  Your eagerness to remain calm and cooperative through the proceedings will be beneficial and proactive.


Mistake 7: Expecting the legal system to be fair and the court will see things from your perspective.

This is not to be confused with legal system corruption!  It simply means that the judge will not automatically take YOUR side on all issues.  His job is to take objective information from both sides of the courtroom and make his final determination based on that and the best interest of all parties. 


Mistake 8: Allowing too much time to pass before enforcing a court order.

Just because you hired an attorney, does not mean you are relieved of 100% of the leg work to get this finished.  There are documents to be signed, court dates to remember and make yourself available for, materials to gather, and documents to fill out  The court takes these matters seriously and so must you.  If you expect to receive the settlement agreement you are seeking, you have to be diligent with matters that your attorney brings to your attention.


Mistake 9: Forgetting tax ramifications of legal decisions and not hiring a financial advisor.

Unless you are a tax or financial expert yourself, it is highly recommended to consult with one regarding the issues related to your finances, as well as your estranged spouse. 


Mistake 10: Being a hindrance, not a help to your case.

You want this divorce finished as quickly and effortlessly as possible right?  Ask your attorney if there's anything you can do to help your case.  If you are calling and emailing your attorney 5 times a day, not only is this distracting his/her focus and time away from your case, it could quite possibly alienate the one person in the world who is looking out for your best interests.  Not only this, the majority of attorneys bill by the hour and phone calls and emails are included in this time.  Save your money in the event you need it for the court room.   If there is information your attorney has for you, rest assured, they will be in contact with you.


Categories: 2015

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