At the risk of sounding self-serving, the one of the biggest mistakes people make in divorce cases is to try to handle their case alone or with the help of a paralegal or mediator, especially those in which there will be a custody battle, assets of more than nominal value at stake, debts of more than a nominal amount that need to be divided, claims for spousal maintenance (alimony), or other moderately to highly complicated issues that need to be addressed. The reality is you simply do not have the training and experience to know how best to present your case in court or obtain the best settlement, no matter how much research and reading you do, and how many previous divorce cases you have had.
Another major mistake divorcing couples make is to reach an agreement between themselves before each has met with an attorney to find out what his and her rights and obligations are. If you reach an agreement and it is put in writing, you may end up with a binding agreement that cannot be changed without the approval of both parties. It is important not to agree in writing to anything until you have met with an attorney to get solid legal advice regarding whether the contemplated agreement is in your best interest. There are often unintended consequences when a person reaches an agreement with another person without proper legal advice.
Another mistake people make in divorce cases is reaching agreements that are not in their own best interest simply because they are feeling emotional pain and want to end the case as quickly as possible in order to end that pain. Very often, that person will, after he or she recovers from the divorce, begin to feel bitter about having settled for far less than he or she was entitled to. One particular case comes to mind that involved a husband who felt guilty about having cheated on his wife. He wanted to divorce her and he wanted to give her their house, which had been fully paid off. He was advised to leave the attorney’s office to go home and think hard about whether he really wanted to give up half the home’s value.
He was advised that he probably would wish he had never agreed to such a lopsided settlement. The client went home and returned a week later saying that he had thought it over but still wanted to give his wife the home outright. He was urged again to consider how he might regret this later. But he held his ground. The attorney agreed to honor his client’s wishes, as he is so obligated under Arizona’s professional regulations. But he wisely had the client sign a document that the settlement was being made against his attorney’s advice. The divorce was finalized quickly. Sure enough, three or four years later, the client returned to the attorney’s office. He was with his new wife.
They both were furious at the attorney for “overlooking” the house issue and for allegedly not advising the former client not to be so generous. The client accused the attorney of not having representing him properly by not pursuing half the home equity in the divorce. The attorney luckily was able to quickly print a scanned copy of the document he had made the client sign. When the client saw the form he had signed, it made him remember that yes indeed the attorney had advised him to not do such a thing. He apologized to the attorney and promptly left the office, with his new wife looking at the former client (her husband) with utter contempt. So be very careful about rushing into a settlement.
Even if you and your spouse are on good terms, you can easily make mistakes that could cost you a fortune.
For more information on Mistakes In A Divorce, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (602) 788-1395 today.