Biggest Mistakes to Avoid in a Contested Divorce
Your divorce is likely to be one of the most challenging experiences of your life. The outcome of your divorce is likely to influence your life in many ways for years to come. The majority of divorces that unfold in California are contested, meaning the divorcing spouses disagree on various aspects of their divorce and must resolve these differences before their divorce can be finalized. If you and your spouse are heading into a contested divorce, it’s vital to know what to expect from the process and what you can do to make it an easier experience.
Unfortunately, many people in this position make critical mistakes that dramatically affect the outcomes of their divorce cases. If you are preparing to divorce in California, review the following list of mistakes to avoid so you can approach your divorce case with greater confidence and understanding of the legal mechanisms in play.
Don’t Talk About Your Divorce Publicly
Modern society is incredibly interconnected. Most people today have instant access to vast online communication networks and multiple methods of communicating with others. Your divorce may be emotionally strenuous and frustrating, and it’s natural to want to vent about it to others. However, you should save this for private conversations with your closest friends and relatives. Do not post anything about your divorce online. Virtually every attorney will tell their client to avoid social media during an active case, and this includes divorce cases, civil cases, and criminal cases.
Anything you post online is publicly available and could easily be turned against you, even if you think what you posted is vague or harmless. Despite the insistence that your profile is private, know that any post can be shared through a simple screenshot.
If you post about your case online, expect your spouse’s attorney to find it. You should also expect them to cast your words in the worst possible light, potentially influencing the direction of your divorce case and causing significant problems for you as your case unfolds.
Don’t Rush to Court
If you and your spouse consistently fight and never seem to agree on anything, or if you are divorcing because of infidelity or another severe personal slight, it’s easy to let emotions overtake rationality to the detriment of both spouses. While some divorcing spouses may want to “have their day in court,” divorce litigation is lengthy, tedious, and expensive for both parties. You might assume that taking your divorce to trial would be the best way to teach your spouse a lesson, but in reality, you will be hurting yourself as much as you hurt them. Additionally, there is no guarantee that the judge handling your divorce case will see things the same way you do. You might believe that taking your divorce to court will yield a better outcome when, in fact, you are likely to end up with an unfavorable result that complicates your life even further.
Divorce mediation has become one of the most commonly chosen methods of handling divorce cases in the US due to the significant savings and expediency it can provide a divorcing couple. You might think you and your spouse are incapable of having any kind of productive negotiation, but alternative dispute resolution is still possible even in heated divorce cases. Your divorce attorney can help you determine the best approach to your case and assist you in tailoring the alternative dispute resolution process to suit your unique needs and concerns.
Never Hide Assets
California enforces a strict community property law that requires divorcing spouses to equally divide all their marital assets and property. They must also equally divide shared debt. While each divorcing spouse has the right to maintain ownership rights over their separate property, some divorcing spouses engage in deceitful and even illegal tactics to hoard wealth and assets and shield them from legal division in divorce.
A few examples of how a divorcing spouse might attempt to hide assets includes:
- Illegally offshoring assets
- Making bogus loans to friends and family
- Siphoning funds from joint accounts into individual accounts
- Intentionally wasting assets
- Deferring bonuses, pay increases, and commission checks
If you lie in your financial disclosure or are untruthful in any way regarding property division in divorce, consequences can be severe. You will likely face harsh legal penalties, including contempt of court or even criminal prosecution for lying under oath.
Don’t Try to Manipulate Your Children
If you are divorcing and have children with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, your divorce will likely be harder on your kids than it is on you. While you may dread the thought of splitting custody with your ex, the reality is that your personal issues with your spouse are completely separate from you and your ex’s shared responsibilities as parents. Attempting to turn your kids against their other parent is unfair to them and will likely backfire once they realize what you have done. Explain the situation to them honestly and clearly, answer their questions, and assure them that although their situation is changing, their parents still love them and are available to help them through this challenging experience.
Don’t Overlook the Value of Legal Counsel
Perhaps the biggest mistake anyone can make when it comes to a contested divorce is attempting to handle it without legal representation. Even if you think you can manage your case alone, you should not attempt to do so. You could overlook key details or fail to recognize discrepancies in financial disclosure or other aspects of your divorce. These mistakes can lead to an imbalanced divorce order that causes significant problems for you in the future. Working with an experienced divorce lawyer is always the best approach to any contested divorce.
It’s natural to have concerns and doubts about your impending divorce. The emotional stress of the situation can make it difficult to remain objective about your situation and your legal options. The team at Bickford, Blado & Botros have years of experience guiding clients through complex contested divorce cases, and we can apply this experience to your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team and find out how an experienced divorce attorney can assist you.
Feel Free to Contact Our Office with Any Questions