Not surprisingly, divorce is one of the most stressful and emotionally wrenching life events. When we are vulnerable, our thoughts and actions often become clouded by emotions. As a result, we may not exercise good judgment at a time when clear-headed decisions need to be made. Divorce is rarely straightforward. Many pitfalls await if you’re not prepared for the process. Here are some of the most common divorce mistakes made and how you can avoid them.
1 – Failing to get a financial order
Failing to get a financial order is perhaps the most common of all divorce mistakes. It’s a regular occurrence among those attempting to manage the divorce process themselves through the online system. There’s a misconception that a decree absolute cuts financial ties with a former spouse, but unfortunately it does not.
If an agreement has been reached over finances, or even if there are no finances to split, a financial order is needed to provide what is known as a ‘clean break.’ This stops future financial claims being made against you.
2 – Failing to have a financial plan
Failing to have a financial plan is one of the most common divorce mistakes.
Getting divorced means your financial situation will change. We have dealt with countless cases where there is no financial plan, and what’s worse is that many have no idea what certain assets are worth. It’s rarely advised to demand 30%, 40% or even 50% of assets if you have no idea how much this equates to in terms of cash. 50% could be a lot less than you think.
This is all the more important if you have children – you should ensure that they will have adequate financial support from your former spouse.
3 -Talking about divorce or a former partner with the children
This may sound like an obvious “no-no,” but when you are going through a difficult time, you may do or say things that could be damaging to your children. Remember: no matter how difficult the situation is, your children should never have to choose sides or feel in any way implicated in your problems.
Furthermore children do not yet have the emotional maturity to handle what is a ‘complex adult problem’, and the truth is, they shouldn’t have to. It has the potential to backfire and can lead to issues such as parental alienation.
4 – Listening to ‘legal advice’ from friends and family
Your family and friends can be a great source of support to you during this difficult patch, but they may unwittingly give you bad advice. Even if they themselves had gone through divorce proceedings, the circumstances of their cases may have been totally different from yours. Only a lawyer can give you correct advice pertaining specifically to your situation.
5 – Failing to set realistic goals for the outcome.
One of the most difficult things during a break-up may be to resist the urge to “punish” your spouse for whatever misfortunes you believe he / she is responsible for. But you should not be guided by bitterness or desire for revenge. This is the time to be level headed and focus on sensible goals that you would like to achieve in your new life, both financially and emotionally.
6 – Applying straight to the family court
Taking your case to court should be an absolute last resort. Keeping your divorce out of the courts saves you legal costs and reduces the trauma. Plus, the last thing people really want is a judge making decisions about what happens to the children or marital assets.
Try to resolve matters out of court through lawyer-led negotiations, mediation or arbitration. Not only will these avenues save you legal costs, but they give you greater control over any outcomes.
7 – Doing divorce alone
You might be independent and self-reliant, but a divorce is not the time to try out your do-it-yourself skills. There is too much at stake. In order to avoid these missteps (and achieve the results you want), you should seek legal advice.
DIY divorce services will try and convince you that managing the divorce process yourself is ‘cheaper’ and ‘easy to do’. However, this is far from the truth. If this was the case, family lawyers would not be needed. Getting divorced is a complicated and technical process.
Getting the paperwork wrong, failing to apply for the right orders and other errors can lead to delays, additional costs and can leave you on the backfoot.
Get specialist legal advice from a family lawyer right from the start. This ensures that you are clear about your options, you can create a plan and you have the legal support you need to get you through to the very end.