Depending on the contested issues in a divorce, the process can go quickly and smoothly or slowly and painfully, dragging on for months or even years. Mistakes during the divorce process can also cause delays and unpredicted or unwanted outcomes. This blog discusses the biggest mistakes parties can make during the divorce process.
Divorce can be a traumatic experience causing a party to feel resentment, anger, uncertainty, and a loss of control over their future. Allowing these feelings to cloud your judgement may result in mistakes being made, both in and out of court, which could lead to adverse orders and final determinations. The biggest mistake that divorcing couples make is to view the courtroom as a battleground. Focusing on every minor infraction your spouse has allegedly committed, whether in conversation with your attorney or when presenting evidence to the court, only serves to increase attorney fees, cloud the issues, and make you appear to be unreasonable.
Being aware of the specific laws and statutes governing the contested issues in your divorce can help you to focus on what is relevant and what will ultimately help your case. When property division is a source of contention, you should be familiar with the statutory presumptions for the division of property and the factors the court will consider when a party attempts to rebut those presumptions. Property disputes are generally resolved between the parties, without court involvement, as the court will not make property division determinations item by item, but divides the property based on the total value of each party’s distribution. Child custody and parenting time are often the issues that cause the most disagreement and lead to the biggest mistakes during the divorce process.
Child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child with no presumption in favor of either parent. A parent who is not granted custody of the child is entitled to reasonable parenting time, which at the minimum, is the time described in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines. While it is important to be familiar with these Guidelines, it can be a big mistake to attempt a rigid interpretation of compliance with them during your divorce. First, the Guidelines were constructed to assist parents in creating their own parenting time plan as the courts expect parents to be able to put their children first and do what is best for them, even if divorced and parenting from two separate households. Second, petty disputes over a non-custodial parent returning a child a few minutes late, a parent taking the child to a doctor without first notifying the other, or a child’s absence from school without immediate notification to a non-custodial parent are not ones in which the court wishes to be involved, and if forced to become involved, will very likely make a decision which leaves one or both parents unhappy.
Life happens. Immediate notification to your child’s other parent about injuries or illnesses may not always be possible. And so, what if your child misses a day of school and you were not told right away, or ever? Being reasonable at all times during the divorce process is important, whether it is in or out of court. This means refraining from arguing with or making disparaging comments about your spouse in front of the children, sending texts or e-mails you would not want to be read aloud in court, and using social media to gain sympathy or turn others against your spouse.
Knowing what is relevant, letting the little things go, and being reasonable and flexible can make the divorce process go more quickly and cause both parties far less stress. But there is one more thing that you must do during a divorce, and not doing it is perhaps the biggest mistake you can make; listen to your attorney.
Attorneys are not just capable of filing the correct paperwork and following the proper procedure to present your case at hearing; they are the de facto experts in all areas of the divorce process. You hired your attorney for their advice, not just their ability to schedule and attend a court hearing. However, even the most experienced family law attorney cannot help you get the outcome you are looking for if you do not follow their advice.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. It is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.