“Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary bypass,” said authorMary Kay Blakely. A lot of spouses who’ve been through it would agree, not only because a failed marriage is stressful, but it’s also a detailed and complicated process.
Because divorce is so emotional, it creates a breeding ground for mistakes. Often, people aren’t in their “right mind” during a breakup. So many long-lasting, regrettable, embarrassing mistakes are made while people are riding the emotional roller coaster called divorce, or because they act before understanding the short and long-term consequences of their decisions.
It’s unfortunate – when people are going through what’s perhaps the worst psychological trauma of their life, the have to make some very critical, impactful decisions. If you’re headed down the divorce path, you may be wondering about all the wrong decisions you could make when your marriage ends. As divorce attorneys who have seen and heard it all, here are some of the biggest divorce fails you want to avoid making.
1. Not understanding the effects of moving out. If you have minor children and you anticipate a child custody battle, you should NOT move out of the house leaving the kids with your spouse. If you feel you can’t live under the same roof, talk to an attorney and get a temporary child custody order in place before even thinking of leaving your children with your spouse. And, make sure the judge knows your future intentions.
If you leave prematurely, this tells the family court that your spouse is a perfectly suitable person to take care of the kids most of the time and it can be very difficult changing the status quo when you go after primary custody.
2. Thinking they can nail a spouse with evidence of their affair. California is not only a no-fault divorce state, it’s the first state to become one. Under California’s no-fault divorce laws, most judges will not be interested in any evidence of an affair. For example, you might have thought that a judge would penalize a spouse for adultery, but in most cases cheating will have no impact on the division of marital assets.
3. Snooping on one’s spouse. We know, this is very tempting and when innocent spouses suspect their husbands and wives of cheating, usually the first place they look is their spouse’s smartphone. However, secretly reading your spouse’s social media direct messages, emails and texts is actually a violation of privacy and against state and federal privacy laws.
4. Looking foolish on social media. We do not recommend changing your status on Facebook from “married” to “single” until the divorce is final. We advise against posting pics on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram of you dating someone new or partying during the divorce proceedings. And, no matter how tempting, don’t rant about your spouse, their attorney, or the judge on social media – this can hurt your case! To protect yourself, don’t post anything before or during your divorce that you don’t want the judge to see.
5. Not having money for an attorney. If you’re unemployed, underemployed, or otherwise financially dependent on your spouse, you can ask the court for “temporary spousal support” to help cover your living expenses while the divorce is pending over the next six or more months, but you’ll need cash for your attorney fees before the court awards temporary support. You’ll need to gather the money for the attorney’s retainer before you get started. Otherwise, your divorce could be on hold.
6. Thinking they won’t have to get a job. If you’ve been financially-dependent on your spouse, that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be awarded spousal support, even if you have small children at home. If you are healthy and not caring for a disabled child, the court may expect you to become financially independent as soon as possible. This could mean that you’ll need to head back to school or re-enter the job market.
7. Dating too soon. It’s not wise to jump back into the dating pool as soon as you split up with your spouse, especially if you have children living at home. If you and your spouse “agree” to date other people while the divorce is pending through the courts, be sure to speak to an attorney about how to date with discretion during this sensitive time. Whatever you do, don’t hire a babysitter on “your nights” with the kids so you can date, don’t introduce the dates to your children, and don’t post any pictures of your date on social media – these can all be used against you.
8. Failing to use a divorce lawyer. If a husband wants to control the divorce, he may say to his wife, “Let’s sit down and work this out together.” Or, “Don’t you trust me more than some attorney?” Then, he’ll try to get his wife to agree to a settlement that’s much less than she’s entitled to under the law. When an attorney says to the wife, “No, you’re entitled to far more than he’s offering,” the husband gets angry and it’s a lot harder to negotiate.
9. Dragging out the divorce for revenge. Some spouses, especially women, who’ve been cheated on will intentionally drag the divorce out because they want revenge. They’ll say, “I want to drag this divorce out as long as possible to make him suffer.” But in reality, the wives are suffering too because the legal and court fees are reducing the value of the marital estate.
Related: How ‘Bad’ Behavior Impacts Divorce
You may have noticed a common thread in these mistakes: A spouse’s emotional state can affect the outcome of their divorce, namely their finances. This post makes it abundantly clear that divorcing spouses should gain a firm grip on reality and hire an experienced divorce attorney at the onset of their divorce. Get the help you need by contacting Claery & Hammond, LLP for a free case evaluation.