If you are divorcing or considering a divorce in Northwest Arkansas – or if you are anticipating that your spouse may be about to divorce you – there are a number of mistakes that you must be careful not to make during the divorce process.
But, what exactly are the most common mistakes that people make when they’re divorcing? How can a divorce law firm in Bentonville help? You’ll learn how these mistakes can hurt you and how to avoid making them.
What is the first mistake to avoid in a divorce?
The first mistake that you must avoid – even before the divorce process begins – is made by far too many people. It is failing to learn about all of your legal options and alternatives before you file for a divorce. Discuss your options with a knowledgeable divorce attorney that you trust before you take any formal legal action.
For some couples, separation or annulment may be a better option than divorce. If divorce is the choice, arbitration or mediation may be a better option than a formal courtroom divorce trial.
An experienced Benton County divorce lawyer can explain all of your legal options, help you make the right choices, and defend your interests.
What other mistakes do people make during a divorce?
What are some of the other mistakes that too many people make when they divorce in Arkansas?
One mistake is not responding in time once you’ve been served divorce papers. In Benton County you have 30 days from the date of service to file a written reply with the clerk’s office. If you try to do this by yourself pro se, be advised that your response must follow the Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure and meet all requirements for content and formatting, or you risk it being rejected by the judge.
If you’ve followed our advice above, however, this won’t be an issue, as your attorney will promptly file a proper response on your behalf.
Overlooking tax implications is another mistake that divorcing spouses make far too frequently. Whenever investments, property, and sums of cash are transferred, your tax obligations may be affected.
That’s why you must be advised by a skilled divorce attorney who fully understands the tax and financial issues that may arise during a divorce.
What happens if you try to hide assets in a divorce?
A common issue of disagreement in divorce is the division of marital property and assets. Attempting to hide assets and failing to disclose fully all of your financial details is a big mistake that can land you in jail. Even though you may be tempted to do so out of anger or fear, don’t do it. Ever.
It is imperative for both spouses to be candid and forthright. If you’re not, your spouse’s attorney will find any hidden assets or otherwise show in court how you’ve failed to make a full disclosure. This can torpedo any bargaining power you may have previously held.
What happens if you don’t reach an acceptable agreement before your hearing?
Under Arkansas law, marital (or “community”) property is supposed to be equally divided in a divorce. Sorting out who owns what can be difficult, especially if a divorce is acrimonious and when property and assets are substantial.
Unless you and your soon-to-be-ex spouse can come to an acceptable arrangement through a signed marital settlement agreement, the judge will be required to calculate all assets and debts and divide them equally between parties. How he chooses to do so can be unpredictable, but may require liquidation of physical property, including the marital home, to satisfy any outstanding debt obligations.
Obviously, such a ruling may not work out in anyone’s favor, so divorcing couples are highly encouraged to compromise and come to a written agreement on their own terms.
How can a divorce lawyer help?
It’s imperative to work with an attorney who will make sure that your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly through every stage of the divorce process.
Once papers have been filed and the divorce process actually begins, any failure to listen to and follow your divorce attorney’s advice will be a mistake.
However, for most people who are divorcing, the mistakes they make are not mistakes regarding their legal options or finances. Their mistakes are linked to their attitude and emotions.
Why is it important to control your emotions in a divorce?
Many people who are divorcing experience strong emotions, and that’s quite normal. There is nothing wrong with talking to a counselor about your feelings, but during the legal proceedings and negotiations, you must be in control, and you must think logically and clearly.
If you respond to a divorce by drinking or doing drugs, you’ll only be hurting yourself, and if you are a parent, you’ll be putting your custody rights at risk.
Here’s what else you must not do: Do not lose your temper, and do not leave angry or threatening messages, emails, or voicemails. All you will be doing is hurting yourself, and you could end up on the wrong end of a restraining order – or worse.
Along the same line, if you and your spouse are parents, don’t undermine the other parent in front of the children or blow off steam by criticizing the other parent in their presence. That’s called “parental alienation” and it is extremely damaging to the psychological health of your kids. Some courts have even ruled this a form of abuse, and it can cost you your custody rights.
What do divorce courts expect from parents?
A divorce court in Arkansas wants to see the parents cooperating and putting their children’s needs ahead of their own. Let your children have the space and privacy they need in their relationship with the other parent.
In fact, overlooking your children and their needs is another mistake that too many parents make during the divorce process.
If you have children, you are only one player among many in the divorce. Putting your children’s needs and interests first is best for them, and it helps you to take your focus off of your own anguish.
Above all, remember that anything you do that negatively impacts your child or children could be used against you by your spouse.
What other emotional mistakes do people make in a divorce?
Another mistake made by far too many divorcing spouses is “living in the past.”
The future is yours, but you must choose to live in it. Far too many of the people around us are still suffering and torturing themselves about a divorce that happened ten or twenty years ago.
Let it go. Again, don’t hesitate to talk things over with a counselor. In Benton County and throughout Northwest Arkansas, counseling resources are abundant in both the private and public sectors.
How will you need to behave during the divorce process?
During the divorce process, you must act as if you are under constant surveillance. That’s because, in a way, you are. Your spouse’s attorney is probably investigating every aspect of your life.
One thing that you might consider is abstaining from social media. Any comments you make on Facebook or Twitter could be twisted and used against you, and any photographs that you post will be closely scrutinized. You can count on it.
Also, minimize or stop all telephone contact with your spouse. Stick with written communication that can be easily documented such as texts and emails, and if you do speak on the phone, keep a written log of the date, time, and what was said, and promptly send an email to the other person that recaps the conversation. Remember to keep a civil tone and avoid saying anything you may regret in court.
What about dating?
Dating someone while your divorce is pending is almost always a mistake.
It might be seen as “revenge” or as “getting back” at your spouse. At the very least, your actions will be seen as evidence of an immoral lifestyle, which won’t earn you any favors in most Arkansas jurisdictions with highly conservative judges.
Regardless of the circumstances, judges in Arkansas divorce cases generally take a dim view of a spouse who will not wait for the final divorce decree before moving into a new relationship.
This is especially true if you have children. Do not, under any circumstances, introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend to your children. Your spouse’s attorney will have a field day with this in court, and it could jeopardize your custody rights.
Don’t become a “victim of divorce”
Don’t make any of the mistakes mentioned here. Instead, become a model of resilience and self-reliance.
You’ll also be helping yourself, and if you’re a parent, you’ll have the opportunity to teach your children some important lessons about handling life’s difficulties.
When should you speak to a divorce lawyer?
A divorce lawyer can help you avoid some of the mistakes that people make during a divorce. Once again, not speaking to an attorney at the very start of the divorce process is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make.
You have the right to legal advice and help. If you are divorcing, you’re going to need sound advice. Do not wait or hesitate to make the call to a trustworthy and experienced divorce attorney.