8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Divorce in 2023

7 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Divorce

Filing for divorce is a difficult decision amplified by all the mistakes a person can make along the way. Women, in particular, can suffer horrible consequences on their retirement accounts and savings due to some common oversights. 

In this article, we seek to equip you with the information you need to avoid disaster, no matter which side of the filing line you’re on. Let’s begin!

1. Ignoring Beneficiary Changes

One step to take, perhaps even before hiring a divorce lawyer, is to get your beneficiaries in order. Make changes to those you’ve named on insurance policies and other assets as soon as possible.

Many times, parties seeking a divorce put this off until after the divorce thinking they will live forever. Hopefully, you’ll live long enough to remember. If not, your assets could end up going to your ex in the event of your death.

2. Failing to Secure Access Before You File

Among the many things to remember as you consider filing for a divorce are all the accounts or assets to which you have sole access. Think bank accounts or safety deposit boxes in your name.

State divorce laws surrounding these items can differ from one location to another, but it always helps to establish yourself as a stakeholder and not depend on the law to do it for you. This can prevent unauthorized expenditures on your accounts or cash withdrawals and the sales of personal possessions.

3. Not Accounting for Capital Gains or Losses

One oversight that can be very costly among divorcing couples is asset division in divorce. Deciding to evenly divide investment and retirement accounts can seem fair on the surface, but before doing so, try to calculate the effects of capital gains or losses.

With losses, you could end up taking a smaller piece of the account than you’re rightly entitled to. With gains, a hefty tax bill could await. It’s always recommended to seek the input of a financial planner or advisor so the asset divisions account for an even split of gains or losses.

4. Lying

Couples divorcing can have a difficult time removing emotions from their situation. It’s understandable to a degree. The marriage commitment is intended as life-long.

When that trust is broken in some way, it’s hard to not take it personally. That’s where many individuals start making mistakes.

They let their anger, pain, and anguish lead them to lash out at the other party. They go on “revenge” spending binges, hide assets, or do and say things that escalate the conflict, even if they have to fabricate “facts” to do it. 

5. Bringing Social Media Into the Mix

If your first reaction after reading divorce papers is to post on Facebook about it, then you’re making a huge error. Sharing something on social media means it’s out there forever. 

It’s far too easy for someone to take a screenshot of an ill-conceived picture or post. From there, it can be used against you in court battles and custody proceedings. 

No matter what you feel after being served, it’s best to set aside your desire to sound off about it. Find a trusted friend to confide in instead, or type out your thoughts and delete them. Don’t make public that which should remain private.

6. Engaging in Behaviors That Escalate Conflict

Social media isn’t the only place where you can commit fatal divorce mistakes. Engaging in other behaviors that escalate conflict can have a debilitating effect on your chances of coming out unscathed. 

Examples of escalation would be not sticking to child custody exchange schedules, publicly spreading information about your spouse (true or untrue), or getting into conflicts with your spouse’s family members. None of these behaviors will help you find calmness. 

7. Representing Yourself

Lawyers for divorces might seem like a high expense, but they’re much cheaper than the alternative. That would be representing yourself against a spouse with the foresight to hire an attorney.

Attorneys know divorce laws inside and out. Furthermore, they’re not blinded by the emotional side of the case. They use legal strategy to get their clients the best outcome, and courts are more driven by that than raw emotion and one-sided arguments.

Unless your spouse is willing to agree to everything you want, no questions asked, don’t go it alone. It will cost you far more than an attorney’s fees.

8. Not Considering the Impact of Relocating Out of State

In the midst of a divorce, you might feel the urge to start afresh in a new location, perhaps even out of state. However, relocating without considering its potential impacts can be a massive mistake.

Relocating can have implications on child custody agreements, visitation rights, and could possibly extend the divorce proceedings as it may cause jurisdictional conflicts. Courts typically look at the best interests of the child, and uprooting them from their school, friends, and familiar environment might not be seen favorably.

Additionally, moving out of state could affect your financial status as well, with factors such as cost of living, employment opportunities, tax implications, and others coming into play.

If you are considering a move, it’s crucial to consult with your attorney to understand the legal ramifications. You may need court approval before relocating, especially if children are involved. Therefore, weigh your options carefully and plan wisely.

Your Next Steps

You now know the seven mistakes likely to derail your divorce case. It’s time to get proactive. That leaves these three action steps to building the best possible case in your favor. 

Take Inventory

Inventory of what, you may be asking. Answer: inventory of everything. That includes investments, retirement accounts, valuable personal possessions, real estate, living expenses, and debts.

Furthermore, examine incomes. Who is the breadwinner? Will there be any alimony due to you or your spouse?

Anything you can agree on without a fight, do it. It will make it that much easier to address division of the more contentious assets and liabilities. 

Mentally Prepare

Seriously, mind your mental state during the process. Divorces can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete. It all depends on how far each of you are willing to go.

You have to figure out how to manage the stress of it all in the meantime. The best advice: go one day at a time. 

Don’t fixate on the outcome. Instead, do the best you can in the next 24 hours to win the day. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Hire an Attorney

Seek out an attorney who has the best interests of you and your children (if applicable) at heart. Sometimes that means forcing the issue; others, it means knowing when to acquiesce. 

No one gets through a divorce getting everything they want. Your attorney must shoot straight with you, for better and worse.

These Filing for Divorce Errors Can Haunt You for Years to Come

If you are filing for divorce, we want you to use the seven mistakes presented here as a guide. Knowing what they are will help you to avoid them, and avoiding them will lead you to a proper strategy. 

Are you in the Los Angeles or Denver areas and ready to work with an experienced attorney who can sagely guide your case to a preferable outcome? Reach out to Duncan Family Law today and set up your complimentary consultation.