- Having unrealistic expectations
If you are considering getting a divorce, you should be aware that it’s usually an extremely stressful experience. Maybe your divorce is the “high-point” in a series of escalating events that have several years in the making, and maybe you have developed a few expectations on what your life is going to look like post-marriage. At the moment, you may be daydreaming about the future and all your expectations seem perfectly acceptable. However, it’s important to take a moment and consider if your expectations and demands are realistic. By being open for compromises and “choosing your battles,” you will increase your chances of getting what’s really important.
- Making emotional decisions
It’s true for life in general as much as it’s true for couples going through a divorce: never make a decision based on emotional grounds. When it concerns such important topics as your finances, property and assets, you need to ensure that you are thinking strategically and that your decisions have a solid logic ground. Whatever feelings or resentment you may have towards your spouse, you need to be able to take a step back and look at the situation with a clear perspective. If it’s difficult, it may be a good idea to contact a professional who can help you to manage your emotions.
- Taking advice from family and friends
Unless you have an actual divorce lawyer in the family, you should never take legal advice from the people close to you. They are not professional attorneys and may tell you things that are, simply put, wrong. Appreciate their good intentions and find yourself a lawyer. Although many people go through a divorce without a lawyer, an attorney will ensure that your rights and obligations have been addressed and cared for. The divorce will affect every aspect of your life and it may be worth the money to ensure that all your documents are legally sound and would hold up in court. On the other hand, you cannot rely on your lawyer for everything you need. Despite the high cost, a divorce lawyer is only capable of providing you with legal advice.
- Sharing your perspective with your children
Whatever you do, if you and your spouse have children, do NOT involve them. They are innocent and don’t deserve to be part of your problems. Although you might feel the need to “justify” your position or backstab your spouse, don’t do it. He/she might deserve every ounce of discredit, but your children do not. They should never have to choose between their parents, so leave them out and aim to make the transition as painless as possible for them.
- Becoming a financial victim
Don’t be naïve. For many couples, it is common that one spouse is more “in tune” with the finances and takes care of everything. If you are unaware of your finances, or lack information about your spouse’s income and assets, you are at a serious disadvantage. Before you can divide anything, you need to know what you have. It’s crucial to gain as much information as possible in order to create an inventory. This should include items such as: real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, businesses, and debt. If you suspect that your spouse has liquidated or moved assets without your consent, you may have to hire legal and forensic accounting experts to locate and determine their value. It may also be a good idea to make copies of important documents and ensure that they are admissible in court.
- Not developing a financial plan
If you have been married for a long time, you may have forgotten what it’s like to live in a single household and what the costs are. You need to develop a realistic and a working financial plan for your post-marriage life. What are your goals? How will you pay for it? If you have children, you will also need to take into consideration the effects of inflation. The cost of a college education can increase dramatically in a few years time.
- Disregarding the impact of taxes
What many people going through a divorce fail to realize until it is too late, is that you may get taxed on the assets you receive in the divorce settlement, and that your spouse may get taxed differently than you. You need to talk with an experienced family law attorney and an accountant to determine how much you would pay in taxes, and the value your assets would have relative to your spouse. It may actually be a good idea to work together with your spouse to minimize the amount of taxes you have to pay, and share the money you save. After all, it’s in everyone’s best interest to address possible liabilities.