Common Divorce Pitfalls to Avoid

A divorce is a painful process to go through, and can be a difficult time to make the proper decisions. Do not make it hard on yourself by making common divorce mistakes that can cost you time, money and often unnecessary heartache. By knowing them, you can avoid them.

Not Separating “Separate” From “Community” Property

Florida is a “community property” state; the divorce court will presume that all assets held in the marriage belong equally to both spouses.

To keep your separate property out of the community property division, you must prove that it was yours before the wedding.  You must provide documentation or other evidence showing that you have sole ownership or that the items do not also belong to your former spouse.

Not Doing Homework on the Financial Situation

Financial discrepancies can wreak havoc on the divorce process:

  • Many married couples have separate bank accounts. However, when a divorce is a possibility, it is not uncommon for one spouse to use those private accounts to hide marital assets from the other spouse.
  • Sometimes a divorcing spouse will secretly sell joint assets and pocket the money.
    Other times, they might purchase high-value items with marital money but put the title in their name only.
  • Some soon-to-be-exes will undervalue assets to reduce their value to the other spouse. A baseball card collection might be classified as a “card collection” when, in fact, it might contain highly valuable cards.

If you are considering a divorce, start looking for information about your and your spouse’s financial status, and seek out appraisals if you are not sure of values.

Letting Emotions Guide Decision-making

Some people use their divorce as a tool for revenge without realizing the price they will personally pay in the long run.  It’s not uncommon for ex-spouses to deliberately needle each other to provoke an emotional reaction.  For example, if a divorcing party chooses to lay claim to an object with little intrinsic value, but high emotional significance, a large dispute can erupt.

When they engage a lawyer in that dispute, the costs can be very steep, and the rewards are often slim or nonexistent.  It makes no sense to spend $1,000 on attorneys fees to retrieve possession of a $250 vase.   Try to keep a level head when it comes to these emotionally trying circumstances.  Employ the services of an attorney for the important details of your case.  Child custody, large asset division, or execution of nuptial agreements are family law matters that justify an attorney.