10 Things not to do in a Divorce

Most of us know that almost half of marriages eventually end in divorce. Due to this high statistic, everyone knows someone who is going through or has been through a divorce recently. Despite the prevalence of divorce in the United States, very few people are familiar with the step-by-step process. Every divorce is different, but below is a non-exhaustive list of what not to do in a divorce that applies to almost every divorce.

  1. Do not go it alone. As a party to a divorce, you have certain rights and responsibilities. An attorney can provide sound advice regarding child custody and visitation, child support, alimony or spousal support, and protection of assets, as well as guidance regarding taxes and retirement accounts. Your attorney will prepare filings and documents that the law requires and file them as necessary. Further, your attorney will keep track of deadlines that must be heeded so that you do not lose your rights just because you filed something too late.

  2. Do not forget that your children are also experiencing the stress of the divorce. This is probably obvious to most parents, but it may be the most important tip regarding what not to do in a divorce, as divorce is already so traumatic for children. Children should be informed as necessary about what is going on in age appropriate terms and should be assured that although things may be changing, they will be okay. Despite any negative feelings you may harbor toward your ex-partner, you have to show your children that both parents are determined to work together in their best interests. A child should never be put in the position where he or she has to choose a side and should never be used to gather information about the other parent. Parents should be civil to one another in front of the kids and avoid speaking negatively about the other parent in front of children.

  3. Do not be spiteful and/or make unreasonable demands regarding assets. It may be tempting to make things difficult for your ex-partner during the divorce, but because this will only end up costing you time and money, it is on the list of what not to do in a divorce. Be rational despite the negative emotions you are feeling. You and your ex-partner need to be prepared to make reasonable compromises in order to retain what is most important to each of you. Be willing to negotiate with your ex-partner. This can save you a considerable amount of time and money. For example, you and your ex-partner can negotiate a Marital Settlement Agreement, a document that sets forth your agreements such as distribution of assets, rather than having a judge make the decisions through time consuming and costly litigation.

  4. Do not have unrealistic expectations regarding the financial outcome of divorce. When one household is split into two households, total living expenses will go up, while the amount of total income will remain the same in most cases. Because two households are now supported by the same amount of income that formerly only supported one household, there will probably be less to go around to each household. In terms of support, you may find that you are expected to pay more to your former spouse than you were anticipating. Or you may find that you will receive less support from your former spouse than you were anticipating. Your attorney can advise you regarding the financial aspects of your divorce and can protect your rights. No party should expect a windfall from the divorce.

  5. Do not continue to use joint accounts, such as joint bank accounts and joint credit card accounts, for individual expenses. While you may continue to use joint accounts for necessary joint expenses, such as the mortgage on a house that you own with your ex-partner, it is recommended that you open an account in your own name for your individual needs. And do not forget to change the direct deposit of your paycheck to your new account.

  6. Do not fail to pay joint expenses. By the same token, whether you are using a joint account or your individual account, failing to pay joint expenses, such as the mortgage on a house that you co-own, or the homeowners insurance on said property is a bad idea. Foreclosure or lapsed insurance will only cause more harm than good and therefore makes the list of what not to do in a divorce.

  7. Do not hide or transfer marital assets. As part of the divorce proceedings, you will be expected to disclose your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. Attempting to hide an asset will very likely come back to haunt you if and when the Court finds out about the asset later. The same thing goes if the Court finds that you transferred a marital asset that your spouse was not aware of in anticipation of the divorce. Even after the divorce is final, it can be reopened to consider the hidden or transferred asset and you will be in a much worse position than you would have been if you had just disclosed the asset in the first place.

  8. Do not post negative comments about your ex-partner on social media. In fact, do not post anything at all about your ex-partner on social media. All communications in writing or otherwise memorialized may become part of your divorce case. It is well worth noting that being reckless with texts and voicemails also is on the list of what not to do in a divorce.

  9. Do not keep anything from your attorney. You should make sure that your attorney has all of the information and documentation needed to understand your financial and legal position. You must be open and honest about everything so that your attorney can properly advise you regarding your divorce. Even relatively straight forward divorces require a close look at personal property, bank accounts, retirement accounts, insurance information, tax issues, income, expenses, and other pertinent information.

  10. Do not feel overwhelmed. An experienced attorney can guide you through the divorce process and answer any questions you may have, including specifically what not to do in a divorce in your situation. If you have any questions about a New Jersey Divorce, you should contact the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at 201-845-7400 for a free consultation.
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