Common Mistakes we see in Divorce Cases
What are the most common mistakes I need to look out for?
After practicing family law in Seattle and Bellevue-Redmond for all these years, we have noticed some common divorce mistakes people make. As you can tell, many of these mistakes have life-long consequences. We think you might be interested in this list just in case you recognize yourself or your situation:
Having Unrealistic Financial Expectations
There is no question that your financial life is about to change dramatically. One household is about to be split in two. Your lifestyle will not remain the same. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. It is critical that you recognize this fact and begin planning accordingly.
Not Having a Full Picture of Your Finances
You cannot even begin to make decisions about dividing up assets until you know each and every asset that you and your spouse own. And the same goes for debt. A complete financial inventory is essential. In addition to a list of assets and debts, you must know exactly how much money both you and your spouse earned over the past several years.
One of the biggest red flags we see is when someone comes in and says “My husband/wife says s/he will be fair. S/he says there is no reason for me to get an attorney. All a lawyer will do is charge up a bunch of fees.” People who come to our office and tell us this are usually the spouse or partner who has no idea about family finances, even including how much money their spouse makes. You must learn everything about your finances.
Relying on Friends and Family for Legal and Financial Advice
We all have friends, family and neighbors who have gone through a divorce. While that may make them great people to look to for emotional support, it does not make them experts on the legal, custody and financial issues in your divorce. Every divorce is unique and you must gather a group of seasoned experts around you. In addition to a family law attorney, you may need a financial planning expert, a CPA, a parenting expert, and/or some kind of counselor or therapist. Look to the experts for your financial and legal advice.
Focusing on the Present and Not on Your Financial Future
It doesn’t matter how much you love your brand new SUV. It is almost always best to take an appreciating asset in a divorce rather than a car or other asset that will lose value over time. At settlement time, be sure you are properly advised about what asset is most financially sound for your future. And contrary to popular belief, keeping the family home that you can’t afford in the long term can frequently be a poor decision.
Not Considering the Tax Ramifications of Decisions Made When Entering Into a Settlement
One of the biggest landmines in dividing assets in a divorce is the tax consequences of the distribution. For instance, two stock portfolios may have the same value, but upon closer inspection by a CPA, one may have significant capital gains taxes associated with it. Or what about the capital gains associated with the family home? You must be aware of the important tax issues that accompany every asset.
Failing to Realize How Long it May Take to Re-enter the Workforce
Many people give up careers when they marry and have children. Don’t assume that you can easily re-enter the workforce. A vocational expert can be an invaluable member of your divorce team. They can assess your workforce readiness, and present this information to a mediator or a judge if necessary. Without a vocational expert, you have no way to prove that you need a meaningful maintenance (alimony) package.
Making Emotional Decisions Without Taking the Time to Understand the Implications of the Decision
One thing is certain in almost all divorce situations: you will want to get it over as quickly as possible. Sometimes a quick resolution is possible, but when the case becomes contentious, one spouse will often bully the other. Don’t let your spouse’s threats intimidate you into making a quick decision that isn’t right for you and your children. On the other end of the spectrum is the desire for revenge, which inevitably drags out the process, costing you money and creating unnecessary stress. Do not fall into this trap. Get the support you need so that you do not let your emotions blind your ability to make good decisions for you and your children.
Failing to Employ an Effective Divorce Strategy
Obviously, you have a lot at stake in your divorce. Your financial future hangs on your ability to make good, well-reasoned decisions. You can trust our team to provide you with the education you need. Without good solid information, you will not be able to make the decisions that will impact you for the rest of your life.
Discussing “Adult Matters” With the Children
As impossible as it may seem, this is the time for you to put your anger and resentment aside. Every single expert report you will ever read will tell you emphatically that your children should not be included in decisions about child custody, parenting plans, child support or any feelings you may have towards the other parent. This divorce is between the parents. It will do nothing but damage your children to drag them into the divorce process.
An Experienced Family Law Firm
Our goal is to provide experienced family law representation by educating you in an emotionally supportive environment. At the same time, we have years of courtroom experience and will advocate aggressively in court if necessary. We have seen the pitfalls people fall into during the divorce process and will work closely with you to help you use all of the resources you need to make it through this scary time.
If you are looking for caring lawyers to vigorously represent you in a divorce or child custody matter, we can help. Our goal is amicable resolution, and we offer our clients diverse dispute resolution options, including mediation and collaborative law. However, when litigation becomes necessary, we are ready to head to court and fight for you.
If you have further questions or want to arrange a confidential consultation, please contact us today. We have offices in Seattle and Bellevue-Redmond and can meet with you in one or both of those locations as needed. We look forward to meeting you and helping you achieve the solutions you seek.