The divorce process can be confusing. You may have been separated from your ex for a long time, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can completely move on.
You still have many things to deal with before everything is finalized. An experienced divorce attorney can help you avoid some of the most common mistakes people make when getting a divorce.
1. Failing to Separate Bank Accounts
Most of the time, when you decide to separate from your spouse, you should immediately open a new bank account and separate your finances. After separation, each party is responsible for his/her own daily living expenses.
If you do not open a separate account and your spouse is using that account to pay his/her personal expenses, you may not be able to get that money back. However, sometimes it makes sense for both parties to maintain the status quo of finances during the divorce.
Not having good advice of counsel when deciding whether to separate your finances or keep them separate is a top mistake made by divorce litigants.
2. Misunderstanding PA Laws About Equitable Distribution & Support
Pennsylvania has divorce laws regarding the equitable distribution of property, spousal support, alimony, child support, and more. You need to understand how these laws impact your case and what you will be able to keep.
It's always best if you can come to an agreement with your spouse on these issues before they must go to court. If you can't, the court will split things equitably (not necessarily equally) and do what is in the best interests of your children.
3. Hiding Finances
While having a separate bank account is beneficial, you should report it to the court when splitting assets. You may face serious consequences later if you hide any cash, bank accounts, retirement accounts, or other assets. Be honest with your divorce attorney and let them advise you on how much of your finances must be revealed in court.
4. Letting Your Emotions Get the Best of You
Separating from someone you once loved can be overwhelming. You will likely have many emotions at various times of the divorce process. Don't let them cause you to act inappropriately.
Avoid talking to your ex when you feel overly emotional and control yourself in court. Let your lawyer speak for you when you feel unable to maintain your composure.
5. Not Picking Your Battles in the Divorce Process
It's unlikely that either party in a separation will get precisely what they want. It's more common for both people to make concessions. Don't waste your time fighting over small things.
Keep the big picture in mind. Decide what is important to you and negotiate fiercely for those things. This will allow you to expend your emotions and energy on what matters.
6. Going Through Your Divorce Alone
Divorce can be a complex process. No one should endure it alone. When you decide to separate from your spouse, you should tell your close friends and family when you are ready.
You might be embarrassed that you are getting a divorce, but in reality, no one should be. As unfortunate as divorce is, it is prevalent. People will applaud you for doing what is best for you and your children.
7. Failing to Budget for Post-Divorce Life
You may be used to a two-income household, but life will be very different post-divorce. You may have less income coming into your life or be forced to start working outside the home.
If you were a primary breadwinner, your income might be split by alimony, child support, and other required payments. When you decide to end your relationship, make sure you begin saving money and budgeting appropriately.
8. Exposing Your Kids to the Divorce
While you should have a family meeting to tell your children that you and your spouse are separating, you should avoid putting the kids in the middle. They shouldn't bear the burden of hearing fights and choosing sides.
Allow your children to have two loving households instead of one. You should avoid bad-mouthing your spouse and don't try to turn them against your ex. The court will look poorly upon parties who speak badly of the other parent.
9. Refusing to Make Compromises
Just like when you were married, divorce requires compromise. Unfortunately, you can't completely split right away. You may have property and debts that need separating first.
You must determine who will have custody of your children and who will pay child support and alimony. Along the way, you will need to compromise. Stick to your guns on the significant issues, but let things go when you can.
A Divorce Attorney Can Help You Avoid Mistakes
Divorces can be overwhelming and complicated, but you don't have to deal with the most stressful parts alone. A divorce lawyer will be able to explain the intricacies of family law matters and act as your representative in court or to your former spouse.
Attorney Susan Gibson with Gibson Family Law, PLLC, has been exclusively practicing family law in Bucks County for nearly 15 years. She's ready to hear your case and conduct you to the desired outcome.