Unless you have already gone through one, it can be easy to make mistakes as you navigate the emotional, financial, and practical details of a divorce. To help you avoid making any big mistakes that could negatively impact your future, here are 10 things you should NOT do when you divorce:
1. Don’t Dismiss the Idea of Mediation
Mediation can work for just about everyone involved in a family law matter, whether it is a divorce, a child custody dispute, or divorce order modifications. One of the biggest benefits of mediation is that both parties have control over all the decisions and the final outcome of their divorce case. The mediator is there to facilitate decision-making, not to make the actual decisions for you and your family. Because you retain control of what goes into the final divorce agreement, it is much more likely that all parties will follow the final order.
2. Don’t Forget to Update Your Will
There are many stories of former spouses who inherit an entire estate because a will was not changed following a divorce. If you don’t want your ex-spouse in your will after your divorce, be sure you make those changes.
3. Don’t Forget to Change Beneficiary Forms & Advance Directives
Other estate planning documents you should change following a divorce are beneficiary forms for your retirement and investment accounts and your life insurance policy (unless your final order includes a provision requiring you to have life insurance with your former spouse as beneficiary). You’ll also want to change your advance medical directive, unless you want your former spouse making medical decisions for you.
4. Don’t Delay in Seeking Support
Divorce is tough. Seek support from your support system, but if that isn’t enough, enlist the support of a counselor or therapist during this time of transition.
5. Don’t Use Your Kids to Get Back at Your Former Spouse
Most parents try to do a good job of keeping their children out of the middle of their divorce disagreements, but anyone can succumb to using their kids as leverage to hurt the other parent when emotions run high. If you are ever tempted, remember that this behavior not only hurts your children, it can also be used against you when it comes to custody and visitation.
6. Don’t Hide Assets
While it may be tempting, it is never a good idea to hide assets. If you do and your actions are discovered, this could mean court sanctions against you and put the judge firmly on your ex-spouse’s side.
7. Don’t Post on Social Media
You should not post anything on social media that shows you exhibiting poor judgment. Your privacy settings will NOT protect you from having social media posts used against you in your divorce case. Your spouse can ask for a court order directing you to provide access to your social media accounts, and all those questionable posts will be exposed for everyone involved in your case to see.
8. Don’t Settle Too Early
While you probably want your divorce to be over as soon as possible, letting impatience take over compromises your ability to make good decisions on issues that you will have to live with for a long time. Even under the best of circumstances, divorce takes time. By rushing through important decisions, you may be compromising the quality of life for you and your children long after the divorce is final. Take time to consider the key issues of importance to you and discuss them thoroughly with your attorney.
9. Don’t Neglect Your Health
When you are going through a divorce, it is important for you to take care of both your physical and emotional health. A good therapist can help you deal with the wide range of emotions you’ll likely be facing throughout your divorce and give you sound advice on helping your children too.
10. Don’t Forget About Taxes
Under the new tax law, for all divorce agreements entered into after Dec. 31, 2018, an ex-spouse paying alimony will no longer be able to deduct it from his or her federal income taxes. The ex-spouse who receives alimony will potentially benefit since he or she will no longer have to declare alimony as income and pay taxes on it. In short, this new change in the federal tax law shifts the tax burden of alimony from the payee to the payor. In addition, if you are the spouse keeping the house, you need to be sure you can afford the property taxes.
It is important to partner with your family law attorney so that he or she has what is necessary to be your zealous advocate. Partnering with your Koenig│Dunne family law attorneys will help you achieve what matters most to you during this important process.