Breaking up is hard to do. There’s no point in sugar-coating it. Because emotions can overwhelm you, it’s easy to make mistakes during the divorce process. Below are some common mistakes you should try to avoid.
1. Trying to Right the Wrongs of the Past
Whether you’ve been married for five years or thirty-five years, your spouse probably did things that drove you nuts or hurt your feelings. Maybe infidelity, drug or alcohol abuse, or excessive spending destroyed your ability to trust your spouse.
If you think the divorce process is your chance to right the wrongs of the past, stop thinking so. If you think all you have to do is tell the judge all the bad things your spouse did and the judge will say, “Yes, you’re right and he/she is wrong, and now I’m going to fix everything,” stop living in la-la land.
Contact us today to get started on your case.
New Mexico is a “no-fault” community property state, meaning the judge only looks at assets and debts, and incomes to determine child support and possibly alimony. The judge is not interested in a blow-by-blow recitation of the anniversary he forgot ten years ago or how she didn’t go back to work after the kids started school and she didn’t carry her weight financially.
The judge looks at the current situation and doesn’t have a magic wand to change the personality of either spouse.
2. Having Unrealistic Expectations
At the beginning of a divorce, many people think they’ll get everything they want without having to compromise. Sometimes demands get exaggerated and lead to an extremely painful, drawn-out divorce process.
If you want your divorce to go as smoothly as possible, then you need to have realistic expectations and focus on problem-solving rather than vindication.
3. Underestimating How Long and How Much a Litigated Divorce Can Be
When a couple isn’t open to settlement and insists on going to court to have the judge make every key decision, that takes a long time.
Contested divorces usually take at least one year and sometimes several years. If experts have to be hired, such as a child custody evaluator or forensic accountant, then that adds months to the process, even if just to prepare the parties to go to mediation.
Time is money. Lawyers and experts charge by the hour. Too often, divorcing spouses are shocked at the amount of money they spent on the divorce that could’ve been used to buy a new house, pay for the children’s education, or protect depleting retirement funds.
4. Stonewalling and Not Meeting Deadlines
Once the divorce case is opened at the courthouse, there are deadlines set by the court rules.
Not producing documents or answering discovery requests on time only drags things out and could subject you to being held in contempt of court for missing deadlines. You have the financial records, not your lawyer.
Understandably, it’s hard to think about pulling together bank statements, tax returns, car titles, etc., when you’re emotionally distraught, but you have to do the homework. Failing to cooperate with your lawyer to provide complete records on time only hurts you in the long run.
5. Using the Children As a Weapon
It’s easy to say mean things about your spouse in the presence of your children. Remember, this divorce is happening because you and your spouse no longer get along and we all need to vent.
Do your best not to talk negatively about your spouse or about the details of your divorce to your children or within hearing distance or on social media. Do not ask your children to pick sides or ask them who they want to live with. Follow the visitation schedule. Withholding access to the kids only hurts them in the long-run and adds to their anxiety at a time when their world is already falling apart.
Even if the children are over age 18, they still love both parents and don’t need to hear the dirty details of why your marriage fell apart.
6. Hiring the Wrong Lawyer
Family law is a complex area of law. Hire a lawyer with experience in divorces and not a general practitioner who knows a little bit about a lot of different legal areas.
Also, do not hire a lawyer with a reputation for being super aggressive and antagonistic. Filing endless motions and refusing to turn over financial records only drags out the process and increases the wedge between the spouses.
As much as you might like to think divorce is your last chance to reform or punish you soon-to-be-ex, think again. Picking a pit-bull lawyer will backfire on you, likely cost you a fortune, and not achieve any better results than a strong, knowledgeable but practical attorney.
7. Micromanaging Your Lawyer
You definitely need to be kept informed about your case and understand the procedures your lawyer must follow but sending ten emails per day or calling daily to question every little thing your attorney or her staff does drives up the cost and slows the process down.
You may have trouble trusting anyone in your life, but you really do need to trust your own lawyer. If you don’t, then find a different attorney.
8. Listening Too Much to Your Friends and Family
This is your life and your children’s life. You know best what you need to move forward in your life.
With advice from your lawyer, you ultimately have to decide what issues can be settled and which ones have to go to court. You also have to be the one to live with the consequences of your choices.
Your friends and family may have always hated your spouse and think you can change him/her through the divorce. You can’t, and letting your friends or family convince you not to settle or have unrealistic expectations only hurts you in the long run. You’ll be better off talking to a good therapist.
9. Not Taking Advantage of Mediation to Settle Early On
The vast majority of divorces settle and don’t undergo a full-blown trial. Knowing that, it’s better to focus on settlement as early after the financial records are exchanged and both spouses have a good picture of the family’s finances.
To help reach agreement on co-parenting the kids, it’s often more productive and less expensive to seek help from a good family therapist rather than hire a custody evaluator expert.
To help reach agreement on money matters, working with a CPA experienced in divorce cases can be very productive, especially in understanding the tax consequences of dividing various assets and debts.
With that said, you do need to be prepared and have a clear financial understanding before attending a mediation, so don’t rush to mediation when there are many unknowns.
10. Forgetting to Update Estate Documents
After divorce, many people forget to change the beneficiaries on their life insurance policies, IRAs, 401K plans. They don’t update their Will or Trust, so the estates they wanted to leave to their children, new partner, or favorite charity may go instead to their ex-spouse.
If you’re going through a divorce, talk to a family law attorney to find out what changes you can make to your estate plan during and/or post-divorce. Then get a referral to an experienced estate planning attorney to update your plan after the divorce is final.
Seeking a Trusted Divorce Lawyer? Contact Us!
Navigating the complexities of divorce is one of the most intimidating things you can face, which is why we at NM Divorce & Custody Law, LLC don’t want you to face it alone. Our Albuquerque divorce lawyers are committed to solving your concerns as effectively as possible. You and your family’s best interests are our primary concern and we strive to protect them at all costs.
Interested in scheduling an initial case evaluation? We are ready to fight for you. Contact us by calling (505) 431-4716 today.