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The Ten Most Common Mistakes People Make As They Go Through A Divorce

Sep 14, 2015 | Written by: William J. Rudnik, Esq. |

Based on my experience, the top ten mistakes people make when going through a divorce are:

  1. Allowing emotions to control decision making. While divorce is always an emotional process, the financial issues resemble the division of a business or a partnership. The more the parties can separate emotion from decision making, the more likely they will make decisions that are in their best interest.
  1. Yielding to threats from a spouse. Many cases involve one spouse making threats to the other regarding finances or children. Most often these threats are made simply to get the other spouse to agree to something, and the threat is not based on valid legal principles. Before worrying about or conceding to a threat, it is better to discuss the issue with an attorney to determine whether it has any validity.
  1. Failing to realize the impact that divorce has on the children. Many parents believe their children are “fine” as a result of the divorce for different reasons, the most common being (1) the children do not express their concerns, and (2) the parents feel guilty and do not want to think their divorce is impacting the children. It is important to provide children with an outlet to express their concerns as divorce does have an impact on most children.
  1. Improperly involving the children in the divorce process. While children will be aware when a divorce is ongoing, parents should never discuss the details of the case, whether relating to custody or finances. All the children need to know is that parents are trying to work on resolving the issues to come up with the best solution for everyone. If the issues cannot be resolved, then the Judge decides the case.
  1. Failing to consider the value of having the case completed, rather than the stress of it dragging out, when considering settlement terms. Many divorce cases create a level of stress that is only matched by illness or the passing of a loved one. The uncertainty of divorce creates a significant level of stress and by resolving the case, the certainty removes that stress. Whenever considering settlement terms, parties should always consider how stressful it will be if they do not settle, along with how long the case will take.
  1. Failing to properly consider the attorney’s fees in litigating an issue rather than the savings in settling an issue. Parties should not focus on small issues that may cost more in attorney fees than they are worth. Attorneys should always advise clients as to whether they believe the cost of litigating an issue will outweigh the benefit, and this should be considered when deciding whether to litigate or settle an issue.
  1. Failing to provide an accurate budget or Case Information Statement. The Case Information Statement is the most important document in the case. If it is not accurate, a party can lose credibility with the court, which can impact how the court decides all of the issues. When filling it out, parties should make sure to be as accurate as possible and be able to explain how they arrived at the figures. Attorneys often use the Case Information Statement as a way to cross examine the other party.
  1. Allowing family members and friends to provide too much influence over the decision making. Parties often allow others to influence their decision making in regard to both custody/parenting time issues and financial issues. Parties should obtain input from others, but, ultimately, they need to make decisions based on what will be best for them and their children, not what someone else thinks is best for them. Parties also should not be influenced by family members and friends providing advice based on some other case, which may have different facts and circumstances.
  1. Failing to consider the other parent’s desire to spend time with the children and the benefit of both parents being involved in the children’s lives. Many times parents believe the other parent is trying to “take away” the children. Parenting time is the right of both parents, and the children deserve to spend significant time with both parents in most cases. A parent requesting a specific parenting schedule may simply desire to spend time with the child, and may not be launching a personal attack to try to “take away” the other parent’s parenting time.
  1. Not heeding the attorney’s advice regarding the above issues (and others). The attorney is an expert in the field and is being paid to provide sound counsel. While the final decision is always left to the client, parties should strongly consider the attorney’s advice, just as they would for any other professional they hire.

William J. Rudnik, Esq. is certified by the NJ Supreme Court as a Matrimonial Attorney. He is also qualified as a Mediator in the field of Family Law under the New Jersey Court rules, and he is trained in Collaborative Divorce. Contact Mr. Rudnik at 908-735-5161 or via email.