No matter what the circumstances, filing for a divorce is one of the most emotional and frustrating moments in a person’s life. Having to admit that the relationship is over is compounded by the complexities of determining how child custody and support will be handled, how finances will be addressed, and how physical property will be divided. While hiring a lawyer is essential for this process, reviewing these tips can help you protect yourself and get through the divorce as painlessly as possible.
1. Don’t Talk Negatively About Your Spouse
This is especially important if there are minor children involved in the divorce. While you will feel frustrated or angry with your spouse at times, venting those feelings publicly can negatively impact your divorce case. If you air your feelings in court or your disparaging remarks get back to the judge, the court may be left with the impression that you can’t relate civilly with your spouse. The judge may also conclude that you’re attempting to influence your child’s opinion of your spouse and, in that case, your parental rights may be affected. It’s best to hold your feelings in check and keep your thoughts to yourself.
2. Speaking of the Children
While divorce is a very emotional experience for you and your spouse, it’s especially troubling for your children. They have to cope with the fact that mom and dad won’t be living together anymore, so it’s important to not make the situation any worse for them. You can help them adapt to the new family dynamic by assuring them that they will still spend time with each parent. You should also speak softly with your spouse in the presence of your children. Getting involved in a heated argument can be just as devastating as badmouthing your spouse. These situations will force your children to feel as though they have to choose between you.
3. Don’t Forget About the Credit Cards
While your California divorce lawyer will help you divide your finances in court, there are steps you should take immediately. As soon as you know for certain that you’re going to file for a divorce, you should cancel any joint credit cards you share with your spouse. It’s best to apply for credit cards in your own name. This will help you separate yourself from your spouse in a financial sense and it can help you build your own unique credit profile. If you have been married a long time, this may be an important concern.
4. Get an Accurate Assessment of the Finances
In many marriages, one partner handles the finances and, even where these responsibilities are shared, there’s no telling what investments or debts have been hidden from you. Investigating the marriage’s finances should begin with a close examination of your tax returns, so you can compare reported income to other financial statements. If you find a discrepancy, this indicates your spouse may be concealing financial data from you. If this is the case, your lawyer may be able to help you uncover hidden debts or assets.
5. Limit Your Time on Social Media
If you’re a regular Facebook user, you already know there’s no guarantee of privacy on social media websites. This is especially true during a divorce, when you and your spouse may share friends. You’ll never know who’s truly on your side and oversharing information can negatively impact your case. This includes posting provocative photos that could be used against you in court or making those derogatory statements about your ex online. A good rule of thumb is to not post anything that you wouldn’t want to be shouted in the courtroom for all to hear.
6. Avoid New Romances
This is not the time to get involved with someone new. For one thing, a new relationship while the marriage is still legally binding could be used against you. Secondly, the object of your affection may be drawn into a heated courtroom battle and that can end your new relationship fast. It’s best to avoid new relationships altogether. If you’re already involved in a relationship, you should limit public exposure as much as you can and discuss the relationship with your divorce lawyer. It’s important for your lawyer to be made aware of any relationships that could influence the outcome of your case.
7. Don’t Hide Assets
One trick people use is to gift a piece of property to a close friend or family member, intending to reclaim it after the divorce is finalized. This is illegal and it can result in a new hearing, which will likely result in your permanent loss of the property. Instead, a better approach is to set up a meeting with your spouse and your lawyers to negotiate a compromise. Your spouse may agree to let you have the item in exchange for some other concession. This is an opportunity for each of you to hold onto something of sentimental value.
8. Consider Mediation
If you can negotiate with your spouse on individual items, it may be possible to settle all of the conditions of divorce in this manner. You will still each need an attorney, but the process costs less in a court battle and is more advantageous to all concerned. You will be able to work out child custody and support arrangements that are more favorable to each of you. You will also be able to negotiate the separation of finances and property according to your needs. Mediation often results in a higher level of satisfaction for both parties. Alternatively, a divorce will end with the judge making arbitrary decisions that may leave both parties unsatisfied.
When faced with a divorce, the single best piece of advice is that you should hire an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Consulting a lawyer at the earliest stages of your divorce will help you avoid devastating mistakes and ensure you have a more favorable outcome in your case. A divorce is a complicated legal proceeding, which requires the expertise of a professional legal advocate. Trying to negotiate your divorce on your own may leave you with an unfair divorce settlement.