Unfortunately, there is not a rule book for marriage, and one on what common mistakes to avoid during your divorce does not exist either. Through our experience in domestic relations court, we have learned what makes the path a little smoother and what can be disruptive, damning, or cost you more in legal fees. Having a competent family law attorney can be key in helping you understand the divorce process and call out common mistakes to avoid during divorce such as what is highlighted below.
- Failing to keep all documents neat and organized when sharing them with your attorney and their staff.
Potentially used as exhibits and given to the court, documents like bank statements, receipts, and tax returns, are most effective when they are stored chronologically and are free of handwritten notes, coffee rings, or tears. Text messages are also effective as exhibits, when shared appropriately: ensuring date and times are visible on texts, they are presented in order of occurrence, and that your ex is not saved under a derogatory nickname in your phone. The bonus for keeping your data neat and organized is that it takes the attorney or paralegal less time to sort and understand the information, and this means less billable time.
- Broadcasting the details of your divorce on social media or in public.
While it is tempting to rant about your ex-partner on a public platform like social media, you should know that nearly all forms of social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Myspace, etc.) can be admissible as evidence in Court.
You may think your spouse is nightmare, but you don’t need to put it in writing to all your friends and acquaintances. If you have children, you can bet screenshots of your disparaging posts will be used against you in court, even if the posts themselves have nothing to do with your ex’s/spouse’s parenting abilities. (Yes, that includes those vague quotes that many love to post.) The ability to encourage a loving relationship between your children and their other parent is a factor that must be considered by the court in determining the final custodial arrangement.
- Starting a new relationship too early
You might be ready to shout from the rooftops that you have “upgraded” in the relationship department, but there are several reasons why you might want to avoid a new relationship or keep it very private a little longer. If you and your spouse have children, it can be confusing, especially for younger children, to see one of their parents with someone else. Additionally, your spouse could raise questions as to the stability of your home environment if you are subjecting your children to unnecessary changes during an already unstable time.
If you do not have children, a new significant other could still be troubling. Did you stay at a hotel with them? Go to a high-end restaurant? Ohio is a no-fault state, where proving adultery does not entitle you to more of the marital assets. Yet spending marital funds on a new partner may be deemed financial misconduct. In such instances, you may have to pay your spouse more than fifty percent of the funds you already spent on your new partner.
- Leaving the marital residence early in the divorce process
If there are minor children involved, leaving the marital residence could prevent you from having time with the kids if there are no temporary orders in place. If there are no minor children of the marriage, then one spouse could get an order of exclusive use, barring the other from re-entering should they need to.
If moving out of the residence is the best option and no one has filed for divorce, you can leave and take whatever property you would like. However, if divorce has been filed and the court has issued a restraining order on property and accounts, no one can remove anything from the marital residence.
In any case, an Ohio divorce attorney will be able to advise you on the most ideal strategy for your specific circumstances.
- Failing to disclose relevant information about your case to your attorney.
The divorce process likely involves some very personal information about you, your habits, your spouse, and your family. It may even be embarrassing in nature or flat out incriminating. And, while it may pain you to admit certain things out loud, the most important thing in your divorce case is that you share relevant details with your attorney. It could help build your case or it may just prepare your attorney for what the other side might bring up. Either way, arming your attorney with as many relevant details as possible keeps you both on the same page throughout the process.
- Engaging in “tit for tat” behavior with your soon-to-be-ex spouse.
Initiating the divorce process tends to leave splitting couples feeling very raw emotions. They are not always likely to approach initial discussions objectively. Once the fact that you are going through a divorce sinks in, try to remember not to let emotions inform your actions, particularly where children are involved. This leads to spite, revenge, and other petty behaviors, as well as children being caught in the crossfire. While it might feel satisfying in the short term to really stick it to your ex, studies have shown that vengeful acts prolong the healing process and continue the cycle of negative behaviors.
For further clarification on the above common mistakes to avoid during your divorce, or to ask other questions regarding your family law matter, contact our team today.