People file for divorce for many different reasons. No matter yours, you don’t want to make mistakes that could compromise your emotional well-being or your legal rights. As you navigate this harrowing legal process, here are five common mistakes to avoid if you are going through a divorce in Illinois.
1. Taking legal advice from friends and family
When going through a divorce, it can be helpful to talk with those who have been through the process before. You can swap stories and cope emotionally together. However, you shouldn’t rely on their legal advice.
“Not all divorce advice should be treated equally,” a New York-based attorney told HuffPost. “People mean well and believe that offering you advice on how to navigate your divorce is a way to support you. But you need to be careful and remember that not all advice is created equal. Your attorney is the best source for advice for legal issues in the same way your accountant is the best source of advice for tax issues.”
The law is a complex subject that requires years of training and experience to get right. Rely on the advice of someone in your state with this experience and knowledge.
2. Using the kids as bargaining chips
You’ve probably heard that divorce is hardest on the kids, and in most cases, it’s absolutely true. The emotional impact of children who witness their parents go through a divorce is no joke. Research shows that they’re more likely to need psychological help, earn lower grades, act out in school, become depressed and attempt suicide, get into drugs and alcohol, drop out of high school, and end up in a low-paying job.
These statistics are certainly frightening, but there’s an important distinction between the kids who experience a nasty divorce and those who experience an amicable one. Those whose parents use them as bargaining chips and who drag them through the proverbial mud are significantly more likely to develop negatively.
Those who go through an amicable divorce, on the other hand, tend to do just fine both socially and emotionally. They may still need counseling to fully understand why the divorce was necessary, but they’re more likely to come out on top.
3. Making oral agreements
You and your spouse may discuss quite a few options for equally splitting up your assets and delegating child custody. It’s great if you can discuss these ideas amicably, but it requires more than just a handshake to make these allocations stick.
“While there are truly such things as amicable divorces, the reality is that no one should ever be trusted ‘for their word,’” a white paper from Hubspot explains. “You will be far better off to work on any arrangements or agreements through your attorneys.”
Arranging things ahead of time in a conversation with your spouse is fine, but just remember that nothing is set in stone until you’re under legal contract. Your attorney will also give you advice about the best split for you so that you don’t get the short end of the stick.
4. Hiding financial information
The financial side of the divorce presents unique and difficult challenges. It’s vital that you put everything out in the open. If it’s uncovered that you did not reveal certain financial assets, you’ll face consequences.
“Hiding your income or assets is not a good idea,” Stephen McDonough of DivorceMag warns. “Private investigators and financial experts are paid to find your money and identify areas where things just do not add up. Not to mention that a judge will not take kindly to finding out you’ve hidden money from your spouse.”
You’re more likely to get a ruling in your favor if you’re open and honest from the beginning. Many divorcees find it useful to seek the help of a financial adviser to stay organized and seek the best financial representation.
5. Saying negative things about your spouse in front of your kids
Divorce is very hard on children, and you only make it harder when you create a rift between your children and your spouse with your words. Just because you no longer get along with your spouse doesn’t mean that your children can’t. It can be damaging to their emotional stability to hear such negativity from the mouths of the two people they love more than anything.
According to parenting mentor Rosalind Sedacca, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network, your negative words can actually make your child look badly on themselves.
“Putting down or in any way disrespecting your ex — regardless how justified or tempting it may be — creates confusion, guilt, sadness, insecurity and oftentimes depression in kids,” she says. “When you put down their other parent, your children are likely to interpret it as a put-down of part of them.”
Of course, this consequence would be unintended, but it still could occur. Your child’s emotional state will be fragile enough during a divorce, when their entire world is split into two, that you don’t want to add to their stress.
Divorce can be extremely challenging for all involved, and while the emotional side of things can be a trial, the legal side doesn’t have to be. When you have a dedicated Illinois attorney on your side, you won’t have to worry about adequate representation. For more information about how we can help you, contact us today.