Common Legal Mistakes in Divorce

Mistake 1: Expecting the judicial system to be fair and agree with your position.
This is a BIG ONE. Most everyone thinks that they are RIGHT. Unfortunately, no matter how right you think you are, often the judge will see your opponents’ view as being “more right” than yours. Pretend it’s a crap shoot and prepare to be disappointed – and then when decisions go your way you’ll be grateful. Never expect that a judge or a court will agree with you or your viewpoint, no matter how nice of a person you are or how wrong your spouse is. It’s not a “slight” against you when things don’t break your direction. Oftentimes, simple courtroom procedure will limit you and your attorney from painting the picture you’d like painted in a world where you were the judge and rule maker – so your views may never see the light of day or have the effect that you’d want.

Mistake 2: Having wholly unrealistic expectations or demands of what you will gain from your divorce.
Almost everyone entering a divorce proceeding expects that they will get everything that they want. How wrong they are! Everything is up for dispute: money, property, retirement accounts, and even your children. Advice? You need to make reasonable demands and not expect that you will receive everything.

Mistake 3: Withholding critical information from your attorney.
It appears that people withhold information about their financial assets or future plans attempting to maintain control and sometimes because they are attempting to hide assets from their spouse, the court and by extension of this plan; their very own attorney. Attempting to fool your own attorney can often backfire and get you in trouble. Better to present the full truth and facts to your attorney so they can do the best possible job for you.

Mistake 4: Do you really believe that your spouse will be fair and agreeable?
Most people facing a divorce are an emotional wreck but believe that their spouse will treat them well during the divorce process – after all they were once “in love.” Be careful. Ninety percent of the time your spouse will be looking out “for number one,” (i.e. themselves) and so should you. Once you’re in front of a judge, you are part of an adversarial system and it’s everyone for themselves…

Mistake 5: Failure to ask appropriate questions and signing legal documents without understanding them.
Most parties to a divorce find themselves intimidated by what is truly a big, intimidating, and confusing legal system. Being tossed into this new and intimidating environment causes the most astute people to lose focus and not pay close attention. Instead of asking questions, they will often accept everything handed to them on blind faith. Make it a point to ask as many questions about your settlement as you would if you were buying a house. Moreover, think your settlement agreement through carefully: envision yourself legally divorced a year later as you study the documents. Or, pretend your best friend was asking you to review his or her settlement and wanted your advice to the settlement as a detached third party. Again, as always in a divorce, be ready to compromise. A good place to start is by asking your attorney for an honest evaluation regarding all issues including property, the marital home, retirement accounts, child custody, spousal support and attorney fees.

Mistake 6: Not checking the facts or the documents your attorney produces on your behalf.
You are responsible for your own divorce and the best possible outcome of your divorce case, so it is strongly recommended that all divorce litigants carefully read all documents, briefs, and motions so as to ensure that they are completely accurate. Problems can arise once documents are entered into the court records and any damage caused by inaccurate data, statements, facts or amounts can be hard to reverse or cause judges to be suspicious of you when, when in reality, it was nothing more than an oversight.

Mistake 7: Allowing petty grievances, revenge and emotions to rule your decision making instead of common sense.
Many people going through a divorce are emotionally drained, angry, hurt, or feel they are the victim and want to “get even.” Unfortunately if you make decisions because of pure emotion rather than using reason and logic, you will likely undermine your case to your own detriment. Find a way to control or set aside your anger for your own benefit and the best possible outcome to your case.

Mistake 8: Forgetting the potential tax ramifications of asset sales & splits – failure to hire a financial adviser.
Divorce proceedings and settlements revolve around dividing assets, and selling the family home, if there is one. All of these financial transactions have potential tax implications. As your divorce proceeds and you begin to have a clear picture of the potential settlement, you should retain a financial adviser, CPA, or tax attorney to advise you of any potential tax consequences. For instance – will you owe income tax on any capital gains? Is potential spousal support taxable? It won’t cost a great deal to review your tax situation and get the valuable advice you should have.

Mistake 9: Giving more weight to the advice of friends and family than your attorney.
You hired an experienced family law attorney for a reason, so why set the attorneys’ advice on the rear burner and take the advice of well-meaning friends or family? Friends and family don’t spend time in court nor typically do they know how to orchestrate a winning strategy for getting the best possible outcome that you originally hired your lawyer to help you obtain. Thank your friends and family for caring about you – give them hugs and appreciate them for standing by you – but listen to your professional attorney.

Mistake 10: Getting into an endless legal battle over every little detail.
You need to adopt a reasonable attitude to get through your divorce proceeding. You should make it a point, up front, that you should plan on some compromise! In fact, you will likely have to compromise over many small things as your case progresses. By doing so, you will be well-served and can then fight for the bigger, more important issues: those that really need to be negotiated or battled.

Mistake 11: Discussing money matters, especially child support, with your children.
You are the parent. Do not pull your children into adult issues, especially litigation. It is important to keep grown-up discussions concerning money and finances between the parents. It is not wise nor appropriate to question children as to how child support money is being spent by the parent receiving the support or complain to your children about such issues.

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I am your Los Angeles Family Law Attorney Adam M. Leach, Esq. Every day I have the privilege to meet good people often faced with traumatic financial and emotional devastation caused by the breakup of their family. I represent spouses and partners with high net worth estates as well as parties with limited means. No matter the circumstances or complexity of your assets, I vow to work tirelessly for the best possible outcome. When necessary I can be your tenacious advocate but I am always compassionate and sensitive to the circumstances you find yourself in at this pivotal time in your life. I will do all I can to steer you toward a successful, emotionally-healthy divorce where, when it is all over, if you bump into your ex you can be civil; where if you have children, you can both attend a future wedding and you can treat each other with dignity and respect in front of your children. A non-destructive divorce is possible and should be our united goal if at all possible. No matter the complexities of your financial estate, or no estate at all, I can assure you that working with a compassionate and caring full-time Family Law Attorney will go a long way to finding solutions that make sense... Knowledge is Power and I will share my experience and knowledge with you when you have me partner with you.
Call my office to schedule an appointment with me, Los Angeles Family Law Attorney, Adam M. Leach, Esq. My offices are open 9 am – 5 pm, Monday through Friday - Telephone Hours: 8am-11pm 7-Days. Call (888) 519-3342