The divorce process can be a particularly emotional and vulnerable time. Don’t make these common mistakes. 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. However, there are a number of things you should do, or more specifically not do, to lessen the chance you’ll regret your decisions later on.
Here are the top tips on what to avoid when filing for divorce.
Don’t Get Pregnant During A Divorce
Having a baby during your divorce complicates a lot of things, and could even hinder your right to divorce. 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.
Don’t Forget to Change Your Will During A Divorce
Getting divorced 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.
Don’t Dismiss the Mediation During A Divorce
In a Divorce Mediation, you can get the help of professional 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.
Don’t Sleep With Your Lawyer During A Divorce
It’s easy to get close to the one person who is on your side. But it’s also a big mistake. It’s 100% unethical in the state of Utah. In fact, in Utah all sexual activity between an attorney and client is prohibited. Other states allow an attorney and client who had a sexual relationship before the case to continue the relationship. In either case, sleeping with your lawyer can compromise your attorney-client communications because you may be charged with adultery for the infidelity.
Don’t Take It out on the Kids During A Divorce
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.
Don’t Refuse to See a Therapist During A Divorce
Seeing a therapist can help you get through the range of emotions that you will experience when dealing with 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.
Don’t Wait Until After the Holidays To Start A Divorce
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.
Don’t Forget About Taxes During A Divorce
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.
Don’t Settle Your Divorce Case Too 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 three 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.
Don’t Increase Your Debt During A Divorce
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. Putting aside strong emotions in favor of cooperating with your spouse and managing the thornier issues of your separation with a calm and level head will definitely pay off in the long run. Both of you will make wiser decisions and come out of the process with fewer bruises.
Do Hire an experienced divorce attorney
There is a reason this is number one on the list: it is the most important. The right lawyer will advocate for you and your kids in the courtroom, and make sure any and all legal filings are done properly and on time. When you try to represent yourself (appear “pro se,” meaning “on one’s own behalf”), you cripple yourself. This is especially true if your spouse has hired a lawyer. Being familiar with the process and the workings of the court is an enormous, almost unbeatable advantage. A good lawyer will make the whole process easier for everyone involved including the judge, who will inevitably become frustrated as pro se litigants slow proceedings down by trying, no matter how hard; to do a job they just aren’t trained to do. Even other attorneys hire divorce lawyers. This is because divorce is almost always emotional, especially when children are involved. Having someone less personally involved handling the heavy lifting is key. A lawyer can serve as a buffer between you and your soon-to-be ex; can be “the organized one,” at a time when sense often takes a back seat to sentiment; and finally, an attorney can bring reassurance to intimidating surroundings, just by being there.
Do Live your life!
Too many people let divorce consume them completely. That way lies madness (or at least an inflated liquor store bill). It is important to stay in touch with your friends: make time to play a game or two with your tennis pals, your poker or mahjong buddies, your colleagues or anyone else that you spend time with when divorce isn’t part of the picture. This is when you need your friends and family more than ever. It may be tempting to hide out at home and isolate yourself from the world, but that path often carries people to depression, overeating, alcoholism, unattractive sweatpants and other unhealthy or even destructive behaviors. It is totally understandable and permissible to feel sorry for yourself; you aren’t made of stone. Just give your grieving a time limit.
Do Realize that divorce happens to the best of us.
In fact, these days it seems to happen to most of us. Divorces happen for so many reasons they are almost uncountable. Sometimes you see it coming a long way off and sometimes it hits you like a freight train out of nowhere, plowing through your life and leaving you shell-shocked. However it happened, remember, though the marriage might have been flawed, you aren’t. Getting a divorce does not make you a failure. In fact, recognizing that a relationship is not healthy or good for you (or your children) and making the call to end it, is the sign of a strong, empowered self-actualized human being. The same praise should be applied to the man or woman strong enough to stand tall and rebuild after being sucker-punched by a spouse who announces, seemingly out of the blue, that the marriage is over. Divorce doesn’t mean you’ve failed your children either; growing up with a mom and dad who are together but fighting, or not talking at all, isn’t better than having a relationship with two happy parents separately. Divorce doesn’t make you an unlovable person or a bad person. Nor does it mean you are hard to live with. While these things are probably true of your ex, your divorce does NOT mean that there is anything at all wrong with you.
Do Keep spending to a minimum During A Divorce
This one comes as a surprise to many and that is exactly why it is so important. Divorce is something most people have never budgeted for. However your new lifestyle means new expenses. You’ll use extra gas for trips for visitation and appointments with lawyers. You’ll also need to miss some work for court hearings and other divorce/custody-related meetings. So, it’s time to cut back on the extras and to start saving any extra money for unexpected divorce expenses. This needn’t be permanent. Track the spending for a year or so and, if things are pretty stable, once you know what these new costs amount to, you can budget for the extras accordingly.
Do Keep your appointments During A Divorce
Divorce has the eerie power to bring out the absolute worst in most human beings. But fight it! This is a very bad time to act like anything other than the mature adult that you are (no matter how childish your once-beloved is acting). You may find yourself angry and tempted to make a statement by skipping a meeting with your spouse’s lawyer, or showing up late for a court hearing (because your spouse made you wait last time). Let your spouse’s behavior speak for your spouse, and let your behavior speak for you. If one of you is often late and skips appointments, and the other is consistently present and on time, you can guess who will look more capable, organized and mature—who, in other words, will look like the better parent. Getting petty, spiteful or passive aggressive on the court’s time is never a good idea under any circumstances. It will just make you look like you don’t care or, worse, are trying to cause trouble. Regardless of whom you are trying to injure with a disrespectful attitude, only you and your case will end up suffering.
How to Start a Divorce In Utah
The steps you need to take are similar in most states. If you’re reading this, your first step should be to get a free consultation from Ascent Law LLC. Some of the first steps include:
1. Getting a divorce attorney: A divorce attorney can do your entire case or can be hired just to review documents you’ve printed from an online legal resource. It’s important to have an experienced family law attorney review your documents, no matter how you proceed.
2. Preparing a petition against your spouse: In some states, the document that starts the divorce process is called a complaint and not a divorce petition. They’re the same because they both start the divorce when served with or after a summons.
3. Giving details in the divorce petition: The petition must contain the names and birthdates of your children, and the addresses of everyone in your immediate family. It should state what you want from the court, including spousal support, custody, visitation, child support, life and health insurance, and real and personal property.
4. Stating the grounds of your divorce in the petition: This includes whether you are filing a “no-fault divorce,” which means there are “irreconcilable differences” or that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” In some states you can still list grounds of adultery, abandonment, or cruel and inhuman treatment.
Utah Divorce Lawyer
When you need legal help from a Utah Divorce Attorney, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506