Common Divorce Mistakes You Should Avoid
Franklin Tennessee divorce attorney explains how to protect your rights and get the most from your divorce
You are not a divorce expert. Why would you be? Unless you went to law school and focused on divorce for your practice area, you have no reason to know the ins and outs of divorce. That’s why it is essential that you hire an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through the process and ensure that you are protecting your rights. Unfortunately, that’s the first mistake that many people make in their divorce. They think that they can do everything on their own and save some money. What they end up doing many times is costing themselves a lot of money in the long run in lost assets, lower child support, and lower spousal support (or increased support if they are the ones who are paying).
I’ve been a Franklin divorce attorney for many years, and I have counseled at least a thousand people on their divorces. Here are some of the most common mistakes I see clients making and offer experienced counsel so they can avoid them:
1. Being Emotionally Out of Control
Divorce is an emotional process. No one is going to fault you for having big emotions over the dissolution of your marriage and your family. However, letting yourself be ruled by those emotions when you are trying to negotiate the terms of your divorce or when you are in court is a huge mistake. For example, you may be so angry at your spouse that you are unwilling to budge on a certain issue. Later, your spouse may be unwilling to compromise on something else that is more important to you. Or you may be so angry that you lash out at your spouse in meetings or court appearances, and that makes you look bad so that your pursuit of child custody is damaged. It is always better to be calm and as amiable as possible during your divorce proceedings. You can always scream into a pillow or vent to a friend later.
2. Badmouthing the Other Spouse
You probably have a lot of animosity toward your spouse – bitterness, resentment, blame. But if you feel the need to unburden yourself of that during your divorce proceedings, it can backfire. Badmouthing your spouse to your children can harm your pursuit of child custody since it can be seen as undermining that important parental relationship. Even if you only say bad things to your spouse when you are alone, or if you say bad things about your spouse but don’t have children, it can harm you. Your spouse will be much less likely to want to negotiate with you or compromise if you are calling them names or being adversarial. I counsel my clients to try to limit your discussions to times when you can be calm, and bite your tongue when the other spouse is badmouthing you. You’re much less likely to get in trouble if you don’t say anything in those situations.
3. Being Too Hands-Off with the Kids
Maybe you think that you are unlikely to get custody of your children, so you don’t try as hard to be there for recitals and other events. Or maybe you think of taking kids to activities as the other parent’s job, so you settle on things like hanging out at home and watching movies. If you want to have a good chance of getting shared custody, you need to show that you are involved by taking the kids to appointments, doing engaging activities with them, being more involved in their regular routine, and generally being a strong part of their lives.
4. Running Up Debt
Some people get it into their heads that their spouse will be the one to have to pay debts and pay support because they are the main breadwinner or because they make significantly more money. So, they go on a bit of a spending spree by running up credit cards or financing big purchases because they think their spouse will be responsible for it. However, this isn’t always true. That debt can get divided. And a judge may see the pattern of spending and recognize it for what it is, and then rule that the spouse who made the purchases is responsible for paying back that debt. Always keep your spending habits the same during and just before your divorce. Always keep in mind the standard Temporary Restraining Order or standard statutory injunctions that apply in every divorce case.
5. Leaving an Evidence Trail
Text messages, emails, voice mails, and more can all be used against you in a divorce proceeding. They can be used to show that you’re having an affair, to show that you have been neglectful in the marriage, to show that you made an agreement about an asset before the negotiation, and so on. Try to never make a record of these or other activities that could be used against you in your divorce. If you aren’t sure, talk to your divorce attorney to get guidance.
There are a number of other mistakes couples can make that can harm their divorce settlement. When counseling clients, I try to help them understand what they need to do to protect their interests and help the divorce proceedings go as smoothly as possible. I work to help them protect their interests and get the best divorce settlement they can. If you are thinking of filing for divorce, call me at my office at (615) 791-8511 or use the secure online form to schedule a free consultation. We can start developing a divorce strategy that will help to maximize your chances of success.