Common mistakes spouses make during the divorce process range from failing to plan ahead to making emotionally-driven decisions without considering the long-term implications. In order to avoid mistakes regarding property division, alimony, child support, and child custody, spouses must work with their attorneys to ensure that they have a clear understanding of their legal rights.
When going through a divorce, knowing how to avoid potentially-costly mistakes is critical to making informed decisions and achieving a positive outcome. You only get one chance to do things right. And if you fail to adequately protect your rights during the process, you may be forced to live with the consequences for decades to come.
10 Common Mistakes During the Divorce Process
Too often, divorcing spouses view the divorce process as an impediment rather than a means to an end. They want the process to be over as quickly as possible (which is understandable), but they fail to appreciate that the process itself is a necessary step toward regaining their independence. As a result, they rush through critical decisions, they overlook important issues, and they make other mistakes that can – and should – be avoided. This includes mistakes such as:
1. Letting Short-Term Desires Impact Long-Term Decisions
We understand the desire to resolve your divorce as quickly as possible, and we know that going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful events in many people’s lives. However, we also know that making decisions based on short-term thinking is a mistake that can have significant long-term consequences.
2. Failing to Consider All Options
There are many ways to get through a divorce, and different approaches will work for different couples. Will you and your spouse be able to negotiate all of the terms of your divorce? Or, could you benefit from using mediation or collaborative law? You may want to obtain full custody of your children, but this is an unlikely outcome for most parents. So, what alternatives work for you while also serving the best interests of your children?
3. Failing to Prioritize Your Wants and Needs
In order to finalize their divorce, both spouses will need to make compromises. As you prepare for your divorce, it is a good idea to prioritize your wants and needs so that you are able to make strategic and reasoned decisions regarding things like property division and parenting time.
4. Failing to Consider Your Spouse’s Wants and Needs
In addition to prioritizing your own wants and needs, it will be helpful to consider your spouse’s wants and needs as well. Which assets is he or she likely to prioritize? Will he or she need to seek alimony? What parenting rights does your husband or wife desire? These are all important questions that will help inform your decision-making during your divorce.
5. Overlooking Assets or Income Sources
When going through a divorce, it is important to comprehensively identify all of your (and your spouse’s) assets and income. Not only are spouses legally required to disclose all assets and sources of income, but if you overlook certain pieces of property during your divorce, this can lead to problems down the line.
6. Failing to Distinguish between Separate and Marital Assets
While spouses’ marital assets are subject to equitable division under Washington law, their separate assets are not. As you go through the process of identifying your assets, it will also be important to make note of which items may constitute your (or your spouse’s) separate property.
7. Placing Too Much Emphasis on Avoiding Conflict
Many spouses wish to avoid conflict during the divorce process. While this, too, is understandable, it is important not to overemphasize conflict avoidance to the point of giving up things to which you are legally entitled. When both spouses are represented by legal counsel, their attorneys can often deal with many of the more contentious issues on their behalves and both spouses can ensure that they receive a fair outcome.
8. Refusing to Compromise
At the same time, it is important not to refuse to compromise. Both spouses will need to make concessions in order to settle their divorce. If compromising is truly off of the table, then the only remaining alternative is divorce litigation.
9. Trying to Get a “Do-It-Yourself” Divorce Online
Due to perceived concerns about cost, time, and conflict, many spouses explore the possibility of getting a “do-it-yourself” divorce online. While this may seem like an easy alternative, the reality is that online divorce packages do not provide divorcing spouses with all of the tools and resources they need. Although they may be cheap up front, spouses who handle their divorces themselves often end up paying far more down the line.
10. Waiting Too Long to Speak with a Divorce Attorney
With all of these potential mistakes in mind, if you are contemplating a divorce, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney sooner rather than later. The best way to avoid these mistakes is to plan ahead, ensure that you have a clear understanding of the divorce process, and rely on the advice of an experienced professional who has been through the process many times before. When it comes to getting a divorce, the more you know, the better off you will be.
Tips for Avoiding Common Mistakes during the Divorce Process
So, how can you avoid these (and other) common mistakes? In addition to seeking legal advice, there are many steps you can take on your own to begin preparing for the divorce process. For some tips on how to prepare, you can use our Checklist: Getting Ready to Meet with a Divorce Attorney.
Request a Confidential Initial Divorce Consultation in Tacoma, WA
If you would like more information about what to expect during your divorce and how to protect your interests during the process, we encourage you to contact us for a confidential initial consultation. To speak with an experienced divorce attorney at our family law offices in Tacoma, WA, please call (253) 470-2356 or inquire online today.