Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Top Ten Mistakes that Divorcing Couples Make

The Top Ten Mistakes that Divorcing Couples Make:

When your marriage comes to an end, it can get complicated.  The problem, of course, is that a lot of difficult decisions must be made, and these decisions have life-long consequences.   It is difficult to know exactly what to do.   This is why it is critical that, if you a seeking a divorce, that you obtain the services of an experienced family law attorney.   Most of these mistakes have their root in what might be called "folk wisdom".   In other words, legal advice offered by your neighbor's cousin who just got a divorce, or by a television show.   A good lawyer will help you avoid these disastrous mistakes:

10.  Quit your job.  In most divorces, there are two on-going financial issues.   They are child support and maintenance.   An urban legend has it that if you quit your job during the time your divorce is pending, the court will be unable to order to you pay maintenance or child support.   Following this hair-brained advice is disastrous.   If the court finds that you have deliberately quit your job, it will be determined that you are "shirking" your responsibilities, and the judge will order you to pay the same amount you would have been ordered to pay had you still been working.  The problem, of course, is that you are no longer work and, therefore, you will begin accruing delinquencies.  This could end up being a lien against your real estate, and your tax refund will be intercepted each until until the delinquency is satisfied.

9.  Move away.  Some people think that, if a divorce is imminent, moving away will throw a monkey wrench into the proceedings.  It will not.  In order to file a divorce petition, the law requires that only one of the parties be a resident of the county for at least thirty days.  If you move away, you will probably be driving this distance to court; and you will likely not be awarded primary placement of the children because it is you who has made the situation more difficult.

8.  New boyfriend or girlfriend.   This is an especially bad idea if there are children involved.  If, while your divorce is pending, you meet this other person who you simply cannot live without, keep it a secret.  In making placement decisions, the court and the the guardian ad litem will, at the very least, think it is bad form.   It will also make settlement discussions much more difficult, and there are many other disastrous consequences.

7.  Nit-picking and niggling.  Before you go into divorce negotiations, make a list of your priorities.  It is expensive and counterproductive to engage in divorce litigation over an extra hour or two of placement, or over possession of inexpensive pieces of personal property, no matter what the sentimental value.

6.  Get arrested.  If a person going through a divorce is going to be arrested, it will most likely be for domestic violence offenses or for operating under the influence of alcohol.  Once the divorce is started, it is utterly counterproductive to argue with one another.  If the police are called, someone will be arrested, and it will usually be the man.  Once you have a criminal charge pending, complete with conditions of bond that prohibit contact with your spouse, you have created a road-block for yourself that may be nearly insurmountable.  Similarly, don't allow your new-found freedom to drive you over the edge.  A drunken driving charge creates similar obstacles.

5.  Fighting the GAL.   The guardian ad litem is a lawyer, hand chosen by the judge, to investigate the circumstances of the case, and to make a recommendation to the court as to what is in the best interests of the children.  The judges place great weight in the opinion of the guardian.  It is a fatal mistake, then, to take an adversarial approach with the guardian.   You may as well come to court and curse directly at the judge.

4.  Give away the farm.  Some people, especially those who are unrepresented by counsel in a divorce, are inclined to give away the farm in negotiations.   There are various motives for doing this.  They may truly believe that no price is too great to be rid of their spouse.  Others are motivated by the guilt of infidelity.   Either way, it is a very bad idea to agree to a property division, child support order, or a maintenance order that is not objectively fair under the law.  The emotional agony will subside with time.   The judgment is permanent.

3.  Band-Aid approach to negotiations.  When approaching settlement discussions in a divorce case, it is critical that each party bear in mind that-- with some exceptions-- this is going to be a final solution.   In other words, try to reach an agreement that will endure.  Do not make agreements that merely placate the other for a short time;  that is, an agreement that merely kicks the can down the road.  For example, if  there are young children, and if the parents plan to live in entirely different cities after the divorce, it is preposterous to agree to a shared placement schedule.  Once the children start school, such a shared placement schedule is entirely unworkable.  The only thing such an agreement accomplishes is to delay the real negotiations to a time when things will be much more difficult to resolve.

2.  Win at all costs.  The family court is described as a court of equity.  This means that the judge is obligated to do what is fair to the parties.   Almost by definition, a "fair" decision will make neither party happy.   There rarely is a winner and a loser in a divorce.  If you approach your divorce with the attitude that you are going to destroy your spouse financially and emotionally, you are making a grave mistake.   Firstly, you will spent monumental amounts of money on a fool's errand.   Secondly, if the judge gets the impression that you are vindictive and you are over-litigating the case, it will back-fire.  Do not seek out the divorce attorney whose reputation is that of a shark.   Seek out the attorney who is smart, a skilled negotiator, and who has years of experience in family court.

1.  Drag your feet.  Whether to divorce your spouse is a very difficult decision to make.  Consequently, people drag their feet.  If your marriage is not functioning, though, this is a grave mistake.   Couples will try the proverbial "trial separation" that always seems to work flawlessly on the soap operas.  This is nothing short of magical thinking, though.  There are issues that exist that prevent your marriage from functioning properly.  Living separately will not resolve those issues.   It only masks the symptoms of profound problems of living together that are not getting any attention.  Meanwhile, only bad things can happen while the couple lives apart.   It may be  the new boyfriend or girlfriend.   It may be that one spouse is a spendthrift who wracks up tens of thousands of dollars in debt.  At the time of the divorce, this is marital debt that will be divided equally.  So, if your marriage is not functioning, you must file for divorce.   It is critical to understand that the filing of the petition for divorce is not a point of no return.   The family law in Wisconsin provides numerous ways for the couple to reconcile even though a petition has been filed.   It is possible to seek a stay of proceedings so that the couple may live together in an attempt to reconcile.   There is a 120 day waiting period built into the law to give the parties every opportunity to work things a out.   There is no doubt that the family is far better off if the couple is able to resolve their differences.   You do not move toward that outcome, though, by dragging your feet.

No comments:

Post a Comment