If you are like most people, finding out that your spouse wants a divorce can turn your life upside-down. In addition to dividing up time with your children, you might also find yourself moving to a new place or splitting up possessions. Unfortunately, the stress of divorce can cause people to make errors that they have to live with forever. Here are two mistakes that can cost you extra time and money, and how you can avoid problems:
1: Failure to Explore Mediation
Once you realize that your spouse is serious about splitting up, you might feel like heading into court, guns-blazing alongside your attorney. Instead of trying to split things up in a quiet conference room with your lawyer, you might be tempted to start collecting evidence, evaluating bank statements, and suing for full custody of the kids. However, you might not have to go to court to split up your estate.
Unlike heading to a stark, unfamiliar courtroom where the judge makes all of the calls, mediation allows you and your soon-to-be former spouse to work out the details amongst yourselves. After you and your lawyer discuss your divorce goals, you can calmly and rationally work through arrangements in a more relaxed atmosphere. Believe it or not, mediation is also far less expensive than a full-blown courtroom brawl. While courtroom litigation can cost over $30,000, attorney-assisted mediation only costs between $500 and $2,500.
If you are interested in saving time, frustration, and money, talk with your attorney about all of your options—including mediation. It might seem less dramatic, but it could keep you from footing the bill for an expensive—and unnecessary—visit to the courtroom.
2: Hiding Assets
After you decide how you will be splitting up your assets, you might find yourself trying to figure out which assets are up for grabs in the first place. Instead of being completely transparent with your attorney, you might be tempted to conveniently forget certain details of your financial situation or hide them altogether.
Unfortunately, hiding assets can land you in hot water. In fact, your case could be dismissed, you could get stuck paying for your spouse's legal fees, or you could even be faced with incarceration. Here are a few common ways you might be tempted to hide your assets, and why honesty is always the best policy:
- Gifts to Friends: Sometimes, people decide to give expensive possessions away to friends or family members during their divorce so that they can collect them at a later date. However, if your spouses' attorney checks for financial or possession transfers, you could be caught red-handed.
- Misrepresenting Income: Don't be tempted to understate your income or ask your employer to doctor your paystub. Divorce attorneys frequently inspect income trends to look for information that has recently changed.
- Claiming Too Much Debt: To negate those assets, some people hide wealth by overstating their debt. However, during divorce proceedings, lawyers might fact-check your financial affidavit to uncover actual debt totals.
To ward off problems, try to be as transparent as possible when it comes to your financial situation. Talk with your lawyer about bank accounts, future bonuses, expensive collections, and rental property income. It might seem painful to put all of your belongings on the table and leave them subject to distribution, but it might ward off costly delays in the long run. If you make the mistake of forgetting about financial assets, bring them to your lawyer's attention as soon as possible.
By avoiding common divorce errors, you might be able to streamline your case—so that you can get on with your life. For more information, contact an experienced attorney from a firm like Jagtoo and Jagtoo Barristers and Solicitors.