Divorce is rarely pleasant. Even the most amicable divorces can involve lengthy court proceedings and have the potential to bring out the worst in people, whether they are in favor of the divorce or not. Unfortunately, this high stress, emotional process can take a toll, often leading individuals to say or do things that they otherwise would not.
Though it is difficult to predict how a divorce will proceed, it is important to understand that there are certainly actions and behaviors that can negatively affect your case and your settlement. Whether you are just beginning the divorce process or are in the middle of negotiating a settlement, avoid making these divorce mistakes to limit your risk of ruining your case.
One of the most significant mistakes you can make during a divorce is hiding key assets from the courts, especially during the property division phase. Always ask your attorney what you need to disclose and be honest and forthcoming about your financial information and your assets. Provide documentation in a timely manner, and make sure to be thorough.
If you hide assets with the intent of avoiding their division, it is highly likely that the courts will find them eventually. Not only will you then need to divide that asset anyway, but you will lose credibility as well. If the court finds that you are intentionally concealing assets, you may face prosecution for perjury and could receive fines, financial penalties you must pay to your spouse, and even jail time.
Not Hiring An Attorney
Some people facing a fairly amicable divorce believe they will not need legal representation to settle its terms. This is almost never true. The divorce process is complicated, and often requires far more court filings, negotiation sessions, and court proceedings than individuals realize.
Even if your divorce is mutually agreeable, you may not want to interact with your ex-spouse
regularly and trying to negotiate a divorce without attorneys will force more contact than is necessary. In addition, the sheer volume of legal documents, filing deadlines, and court procedures involved in a divorce can be extremely stressful and even incomprehensible without a lawyer. Worse, you risk missing or mishandling one of these elements and delaying your divorce. For these reasons, attempting to represent yourself often turns a civil divorce sour, and a bad divorce into a nightmare.
Leading With Emotion
As discussed earlier, divorces are inherently emotional situations. However, it is important to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you during the divorce process. Heightened emotions often obscure fact and delays progress, and can make for a lengthier, more unpleasant divorce.
Emotions can especially affect the process of dividing assets. Many people let emotion get in the way of their decision-making and latch onto objects that are either not important or not worth a legal dispute. Other people may give up significant portions of a divorce settlement in favor of sentimental objects. It is important to prioritize your lifestyle, wellbeing, and financial health over emotional items.
Though a reason for divorce, or “fault,” is not required in the state of Missouri, hiding information regarding your part in the marriage can prolong the process and bring your credibility into question. If there was a specific reason that spurred the divorce, consider disclosing it to your attorney right away so they can tell you how to proceed.
In some cases, if you are at fault for a divorce, it is in your best interest to reveal your role in the divorce to preserve moral standing in the eyes of the court. While your spouse’s attorney is not legally obligated to show you were at fault to proceed with the divorce, the nature of your marriage will likely be thoroughly examined. Your Springfield, MO divorce attorney can help you determine which elements of your marriage you should discuss in court.
Dismissing Spousal Support
Many divorcing people believe they are not entitled to alimony or spousal support because their income was similar to their spouse’s, or because they did not work outside the home. This is not necessarily the case. The courts take non-monetary factors into account, such as:
- Child rearing
- Current lifestyle
- Career limitations
- Household management
- Other domestic work
If you were the primary spouse to execute any of the above tasks, or experienced roadblocks in your career due to your marriage, the court may take your efforts into account and consider them when determining spousal support. Do not hesitate to tell your attorney about all of your jobs and tasks, to ensure that they get a clear representation of the work you put into your family. Should you experience difficulty re-entering the workforce after your divorce, spousal support can ensure you are able to maintain a similar lifestyle for a set period of time.
Speaking Ill of Your Ex-Spouse
It is understandable to want to vent about an ex-spouse, especially if you believe their actions caused your divorce proceedings. In fact, expressing your feelings is part of the healing process. However, it is important that you do not vent in a way that could hamper your divorce proceedings or cause you to lose your standing in court.
Do not, under any circumstances, speak negatively about your spouse to your shared children. The court does not look kindly on this action, and it can jeopardize not only your financial settlement, but visitation and custody agreements as well. If you do need to vent, do so only with a trusted individual.
In the modern day, many people connect with their family and friends on social media. During a divorce, however, this practice can be dangerous. Similar to the previous example, if you post negative content about your ex-spouse or your divorce online, you can jeopardize your standing in court.
Even if you do not explicitly mention your ex-spouse in a negative light, your social media posts can ruin your case. If you post about frequent nights out with friends, shopping, dating, or taking expensive vacations, your ex-spouse may be able to offer it as proof you are hiding financial assets. In some cases, an ex-spouse can use social media posts to attempt to prove you are an unfit parent and should not be given custody. Overall, it is better to stay away from social media during the divorce process.
Contact Stange Law Firm
For many people, divorce is the best way to ensure that both individuals can return to happy and fulfilled lives. For nearly 2 decades, the skilled Springfield divorce attorneys at Stange Law Firm have been helping couples move to next phase of their lives. We understand the complex process of divorce and the roadblocks that can occur, both legally and emotionally. We can help you move through the divorce process with ease and dignity. For more information about divorcing in Missouri, contact us to schedule a consultation.