Divorce Law Alert - 3 Ways People Sabotage Their Divorce
This Divorce Alert is brought to you by the Chicago Divorce and Family Law Attorneys at Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa and Divorce Magazine.
There’s a fine line that most people must navigate when they find themselves in the unfortunate position of going through a divorce. On one hand, there’s no doubt that you should always protect yourself during the proceedings, even if events appear to be unfolding amicably. On the other side of the coin, being too aggressive can ignite a lengthy legal battle between you and your spouse, leading to a worse outcome for both parties.
By Brenda K. McKnight
Rare is the divorce that’s completely without some sort of legal issue requiring mediation, which means that you need to take the approach that works best for your individual needs. Avoid the following trio of mistakes that can sabotage your divorce and result in serious repercussions for the rest of your life.
1. Adopting a Threatening Posture
Emotions run hot during many divorce proceedings, which is to be expected considering that the destruction of marriage usually involves negative events that couples aren’t able to overcome. The psychological trauma that’s created during these times causes people to respond in many different ways, including undue aggression.
If you’re planning on starting your divorce proceedings by adopting a threatening posture, there’s a good chance that you will simply complicate your divorce, increasing the amount of time and money you spend on your separation.
Indeed, situations do exist where an abusive partner needs to be dealt with as strongly as possible, requiring that you “lawyer up” and cease contact for your family’s protection. In other cases, it’s usually best to avoid making threatening gestures out of personal frustration or disappointment in the relationship.
A piece of advice that isn’t followed as frequently as suggested is keeping the kids out of the divorce. One of the worst threats you can make involves restricting the ability for your partner to be involved in raising the children. It’s a guaranteed way of permanently increasing the hostility of the divorce, making your divorce lengthier and more expensive than needed.
Threatening to negatively impact the quality of life after divorce is another trigger that is guaranteed to create lasting anger and resentment. Sometimes, partners even attempt to tie financial conditions to visitation rights, threatening to cut off child support if all demands aren’t met.
Attempting to control money and family through extralegal extortion is all but guaranteed to backfire. In fact, the judge may end up looking down on your negative behavior. This could result in your ex-partner receiving an inflated settlement compared to the ruling that might have been made if you focused on working toward a more amicable resolution.
2. Messing Around With Money
Other than children, money tends to be the most contentious issue that’s fought over when divorce proceedings begin. As mentioned in the previous section, finances are sometimes used in an attempt to hold power over spouses, resulting in legal proceedings that end up costing an incredible amount of money and time. Sometimes, one of the ways that spouses sabotage their own divorce is by attempting to shift, hide, and misreport assets and income in an attempt to hoard resources and reduce alimony payments.
An unfortunately common occurrence that takes place during the dissolution of a marriage is the raiding of shared accounts, credit cards and safe deposit boxes. This is typically the first step that takes place when a spouse attempts to mess around with the money issue. The goal of preventing access to funds may be an attempt to make it hard to hire legal help. Sometimes it’s just simple greed that motivates a spouse to raid finances.
In addition to immediately upping the ante for upcoming legal proceedings, any attempt to take money from shared finances can lead to an extremely unfavorable legal decision, as well as inflated lawyer fees. You may think that you’re being clever, but all of these sources of wealth can be easily tracked, including shared deposit boxes.
Once revealed in court, attempts to hide finances through misappropriation, delayed stock vesting or shifty accounting practices can result in a decision that increases the amount of money you have to pay to your spouse. This may also force you to undergo a lengthy audit of your finances, ordered by a court that knows it can no longer trust your behavior.
3. Recruiting the Wrong Professional
The legal profession is a complex industry with many niche fields. Some lawyers dedicate decades of work and study to a single field, becoming experts in a particular portion of the system. Complicating matters further is the fact that “paralegals” exist, offering discounted services in the field of divorce and family law.
Getting a deal on legal help may seem like a great idea. Alternatively, hiring a high-profile lawyer may also appear to be the course of action to choose. Both options have one common drawback that should be considered: specifically, their level of expertise.
Just because a lawyer charges a pretty penny for results achieved in the past doesn’t guarantee results, especially if divorce or family law isn’t their specialty. Similarly, hiring the least expensive legal option all but guarantees that you won’t receive the assistance you require.
When seeking legal representation, it’s absolutely vital to obtain help that reflects the needs of your individual proceedings. When a divorce is relatively orderly, you don’t need to hire counsel with a reputation of a shark, triggering a legal war for no good reason. However, if your divorce looks to involve a messy struggle between you and your spouse, obtaining a passive divorce lawyer won’t get the results you need either.
Balance Your Approach to Divorce for the Best Results
There’s no single solution that matches every single divorce scenario. Due to the fact that marriages end for a wide variety of reasons, ranging from relatively amicable to completely toxic, you need to approach the proceedings according to the situation you find yourself in.
When you don’t obtain the legal protection you need, you risk becoming victimized in the process. Alternatively, approaching divorce in a pointlessly aggressive manner that threatens your spouse’s family and finances all but guarantees long, expensive and draining proceedings.
Obtaining appropriate legal counsel helps to prevent you from sabotaging your own divorce, especially during times where you feel most vulnerable and emotional.
About the Author
Brenda practices family law with Haber & Associates, a Canadian law firm. She helps her clients through such serious problems as child custody, child support, spousal support, division of family property, estate planning, income tax issues and problems with common-law marriages.