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Common Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce

The stay-at-home orders implemented due to the pandemic have put a significant strain on many marriages. Experts are seeing a rise in inquiries from couples about filing for divorce and they anticipate more people will file for divorce as time goes on. Divorce is an extremely difficult process to undergo, and spouses often experience feelings of anger, guilt, sadness, and loneliness. Although these emotions are common and are to be expected, they can lead you to make mistakes that can have potentially long-lasting effects on you and your spouse’s lives, both financially and emotionally. Here are the top five mistakes one should avoid while going through the divorce process.

Not following court orders.

When a person receives an order in a divorce case, this order is backed up by the power of the court. The most common example of this is failing to pay either child support or alimony. If a spouse refuses to comply with the instructions included in the court order, there are usually ways to compel the spouse to follow the judge’s instructions. They may be held in contempt of court, thrown in jail, ordered to pay fines, ordered to pay the other spouse’s attorney’s fees, or subjected to whatever other punishment the court believes is warranted under the circumstances. Enforcing court orders is essential for family law matters, and if your spouse is failing to obey a court order, legal counsel must be contacted to ensure that the orders in place are fully enforced as soon as possible.

Taking legal advice from people other than your attorney.

When getting divorced, you may have friends or family who might have already gone through the divorce process and might want to offer you legal advice, and as tempting as it could be, they won’t necessarily know what’s best for you. Often, the advice attorneys give may vary from case to case, so it’s important to not take any legal advice from anyone other than your attorney who is committed to your case. Divorces are complicated matters which concern the division of financial assets and your future, therefore, only qualified and competent legal professionals will be able to effectively advise you regarding your rights and responsibilities during the divorce process.

Bad-mouthing your spouse in front of the children.

It’s often said that kids can be the real victims of divorce, and this can be proven true when parents are going through a contentious divorce in which they use those kids as objects or pawns. Many people may be angry, frustrated, or feel hurt by their spouse, but it’s important to separate the issues from the kids as much as possible. Try to do everything you can to avoid talking badly about your ex-spouse to your children. In the long run, it could harm the children and could potentially hurt your rights in future custody cases, as the court tends to consider the role that each parent will play in the future in fostering a healthy relationship with the other parent.  It can be devastating for your child to hear you bad-mouthing his or her other parent. Your child needs permission to love both of you, regardless of any bad parental behavior. The best way to support your child during this time is to encourage a positive relationship with the other parent. If your spouse is speaking badly about you, do not stoop to the level of their improper behavior. It is not in the best interests of your children for you to do so.

Hiding marital assets from the court.

California requires full disclosure of all assets and obligations in which the community may have an interest. Each party meets this requirement by completing preliminary and final declarations of disclosure, and certifying under the penalty of perjury that the supporting documents are true and complete. This duty continues until the parties divide that asset. If you later learn that your spouse failed to disclose an asset, and you prove this to the court’s satisfaction, you will be entitled to a minimum of 50 percent of that asset’s community value. In some circumstances, such as fraudulent or willful nondisclosure, the court may award the entire asset to you. Promptly discuss with your attorney your suspicions and/or discovery that your spouse has failed to disclose assets. The process of addressing an undisclosed asset differs, depending on whether you learn of the omission before or after the divorce concludes. Your attorney will advise you of the proper procedure to address the undisclosed asset. Statutes of limitation require that you attend to this issue immediately.

Failing to consider mediation and negotiation.

Regardless of whether you had a marriage full of conflict or you and your spouse agree to part amicably, you don’t need to proceed down a path of contested litigation. For various reasons, you may wish to avoid this. If you and your spouse are on decent terms, then you might want to consider mediation as an alternative. Mediation and negotiation can help you and your spouse resolve your disputed issues and reach your agreements without taking your case before the judge who will make your decisions for you.

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