To be human is to err. This is especially true in times of extreme emotion, like the end of a marriage. When you’re under the stress of your ending relationship and all the legal details that follow, it’s only natural to make some mistakes.
Unfortunately, making mistakes in legal proceedings can have significant consequences. Understanding the most common errors divorcing couples face can help you avoid making the same mistakes. Keep reading to learn the five most common divorce mistakes and how to avoid them in your own split.
1. Prioritizing Payback Over Your Future
Divorce is rarely pain-free. If your spouse hurt you or broke your trust, it’s natural to feel angry with them. When you’re mad, it’s also normal to want a way to “get back” at someone. However, your divorce proceedings are not the time to give in to that urge.
As much as you may hurt, you can’t force your former partner to feel the same emotions. The family law system isn’t intended to punish an unfaithful or abusive partner. Trying to claim unrealistically large portions of your marital assets or excessively high spousal support won’t solve your problems. It will just draw out the divorce proceeding, wasting time and effort.
A vindictive claim can also backfire if the judge believes you’re making these claims in bad faith. That can cause you to receive less than you would have if you’d been fair from the start.
Instead, focus on your future. Figure out a budget and work to find a genuinely fair split of your assets. Your goal should be to move on, not to get even. Moving through the process quickly and fairly is the best way to do that.
2. Trying to Use Your Kids as Leverage
If you have children, they’ll be unavoidably affected by a divorce. As a parent, you should put your kids’ well-being first whenever you can. That means making your split as low-stress as possible for them.
That can mean many things, but first and foremost, it means not making your kids into pawns in the divorce negotiations. Your children are people, too, and they deserve to spend time with both their parents as long as it’s safe for them to do so. If you try to keep them away from their other parent to force your spouse to make concessions, you could damage your relationship with your kids.
Furthermore, don’t try to fight for sole custody just to “win” against your spouse. When a parent requests sole custody in Oregon, the court has to award sole custody to someone. It may not be you. You could actually lose custody of your kids entirely, which is the opposite of what you want.
3. Letting Emotions Make Your Decisions
You may love your house or your car. There’s nothing wrong with having a strong emotional attachment to places and objects. However, that emotional attachment shouldn’t win out over practical concerns like whether you can afford payments for those items on your own.
Houses and car loans can be expensive. The amount you could afford to pay with joint incomes may not be anywhere close to what you can afford single. You need to do the math and figure out what’s actually feasible for you before making choices about what should happen with those assets.
If you can afford to keep the car or the house, that’s excellent. However, if you can’t, there’s no shame in selling them. You can and will have homes and cars and other possessions that you’ll love just as much down the road. For the moment, keep your emotions separate from your financial choices during property division to make sure you don’t get stuck trying to pay for something that will permanently drain your finances.
4. Failing to Separate Your Accounts
As soon as you and your spouse decide you’re getting a divorce, it’s time to start making changes to how you live. One of the first and most significant changes is organizing your finances. Separating your financial accounts is critical to protect yourself now and after the split is finalized.
Accounts you need to separate include:
- Credit cards: Joint credit cards are the responsibility of both parties. As long as your partner is still on your joint credit card, they can use it to make purchases. If they fail to pay for those purchases, the debt is your responsibility, and the failure to pay affects your credit score.
- Bank accounts: Your partner can access any funds in accounts with their name on them. Create a separate account for yourself and your income as soon as possible to avoid having your savings drained by an emotional partner.
- Loans: As with credit cards, you’re responsible for any loans under your name, including mortgages and car loans. If you or your spouse keeps these assets and loans after the divorce, reassign ownership of the loan to be solely in the name of the person who will keep it.
5. Ignoring Court Orders
Court orders may come up throughout the divorce process, from child support to alimony to restraining orders. Regardless of the type of order, if one is issued during your split, you must follow it. Failure to follow a court order is a criminal act. Whether or not you agree with it, the order is legally binding. You can always contest it later. You need to follow the order until it’s ended or canceled to protect yourself from significant legal consequences.
Divorce Lawyers Help Prevent Mistakes
With all of the emotions involved in a divorce, you’re in no state of mind to handle the legal concerns alone. An experienced Oregon divorce lawyer can help you avoid making common mistakes and keep your split moving along.
The team at Regele Law, LLC, is prepared to help you move through the process as quickly and accurately as possible. You don’t have to worry about paperwork errors or missed deadlines with these experts on your side. Get in touch today to learn more about how the right attorney can streamline your divorce.