When it comes to divorce, there are some mistakes that people make which can be undone. On the other hand, the saying goes that you can’t un-ring a bell and certain mistakes function like an alarm going off and represent a bell that can never be silenced. Avoid these common mistakes and you will find yourself on the way to a smoother divorce process, otherwise you are likely to be subject to embarrassment or having your credibility damaged.
1. Not telling your attorney everything or the truth
Your attorney is here for you. There might be things you are embarrassed about, things that don’t seem relevant, or just things you don’t want to talk about. There might even be things that you have become used to lying about. These can be simple things like getting fired from a job or spending too much money on something you didn’t tell your spouse about. They can be bigger things like major gambling losses, an affair that you spent a good deal of money on or no one knew about, or even domestic violence committed by you or perpetrated upon you. There can be many other examples of things you would rather not talk about as well. The best advice you off and won’t get is to tell your attorney everything. The embarrassing, hurtful, the ugly, even the things that might seem innocuous and unimportant. Knowledge is power in the divorce process and the more that you arm your attorney with, the better they can advise you and anticipate how to deal with unfavorable facts or facts that you did not know were important but that can be a big consequence later. Keep it simple, tell your attorney everything. Write a narrative that tells your story during the marriage and leading up to the separation. Do not leave anything out! If you don’t tell your attorney everything and they have to find out from your spouse’s attorney or court documents, you will lose credibility with your attorney, the court, and potentially damage your relationship with your own counsel.
2. Forgetting about texts, emails, and social media
Do not assume that only your friends can see your Facebook page, Instagram feed, or other posting on social media. You have no idea how many cases have gone sideways when you have represented one thing to the court only to be confronted with your own postings, emails, text messages, and other documentary evidence that establishes a completely different story and discredits you. If there are social media accounts that you believe are secure, secure them further and do a check. Even better, shut your account down during the divorce process. You don’t know who is seeing them, who friends of friends may end up showing them to, and you cannot afford to be discredited by your own posting. If there are ugly text messages, Facebook messages, or emails that you have sent to your partner in the past or during the process, share those with your attorney. Don’t assume they will never be used. Having your attorney know about them sooner than later will help you form a better strategy moving forward.
3. Failing to gather complete financial data
Record keeping and gathering is not a strong suit of many people. It can be downright frustrating and easy to ignore. Do not ignore gathering your financial information. Do not put this off until the last minute! You cannot divide your assets with your spouse if you don’t know what you have. Your attorney will need complete financials from you or at least your best effort to get them to begin to put together the value of your marital community. Even if you are not the party who regularly handled the finances during your marriage or relationship, what you do have can provide valuable insight to your attorney as far as determining what may still be outstanding or provide clues for what else to look for. As much as gathering financials might seem burdensome to you or unnecessary, it is an important part of your job in participating in your own case. Likewise, if you are required to provide financial information or other information through discovery requests to another party, don’t simply ignore this task or claim that you don’t have any records. Another common way to have your credibility destroyed with the court is claiming you have if you were bank accounts then you do or not disclosing certain financials only to have them being acquired via a subpoena and be confronted with them when you have said they don’t exist.
These are only a few of the major mistakes that can set you back early or at any stage in the divorce process. Keep yourself focused, get legal help, and avoid critical mistakes to have the best possible outcome in your divorce.