The financial consequences of a divorce can often be as devastating as the emotional aspects. Besides legal fees, you face the cost of setting up and maintaining a second household. Here are mistakes people going through a divorce often make — mistakes that can cost a fortune.
Mistake #1: Taking action without obtaining legal advice. Divorces are full of financial pitfalls. A skilled family lawyer can help you avoid them.
Mistake #2: Failing to realize the importance of the status quo. One of the most important concepts in family law is that of the status quo. The courts are loathe to change the way things are going, unless it is clear that there is a big problem. For instance, if you make payments to your spouse without a court order, it will become difficult to convince a court that you cannot afford to continue making the payments.
Mistake #3: Making decisions while you are depressed or upset about your divorce. A divorce is a very emotional and difficult time. If you make decisions when you are depressed or upset, you can easily make bad decisions. Try to make important decisions only when you feel strong.
Mistake #4: Getting divorce advice from family and friends. No doubt you will hear a lot of urban legends about divorce law. Many of them are not correct. While your family may have good intentions and want to help you, that does not change the fact that many things they tell you may not be accurate. Just because your friend got the house in his divorce does not mean that you will too. The only reliable source of divorce information is your lawyer.
Mistake #5: Using your divorce to punish your former spouse. Not only will this cost you financially, it will also hurt you and your children a lot.
Mistake #6: Failing to think strategically. Thinking strategically means deciding what is worth fighting for and what is not worth fighting for. It may be too expensive to fight about everything with your spouse. You also have to decide how much you are willing to pay to fight for your assets. It does not make sense to spend $5,000 in legal fees to get $1,000 more in your divorce settlement.
Mistake #7: Being generous to win back your spouse. This does not work. If your marriage is over, no amount of generosity will win your spouse back.
Mistake #8: Failing to keep a journal. In a highly contested case, the details of what has happened can be particularly important. A journal that contains all the daily events surrounding the divorce will be invaluable when you want to remember what has occurred.
Mistake #9: Overlooking the mediation option. Mediation is where you and your spouse, together with a mediator, discuss the issues you face in hopes of reaching an acceptable agreement. The mediator is a neutral third party who helps you and your spouse work towards a reasonable solution of the issues in your divorce. In many cases, mediation may be the quickest and cheapest way of reaching an agreement with your spouse. And because it happens so quickly, you avoid much of the emotional trauma that you and your children might otherwise have to endure.
Mistake #10: Failing to obtain security for support payments. If your former spouse dies, what will you do without the child support payments you were receiving? Getting appropriate life insurance can make all of the difference.