10 Things You Should Do During Divorce Litigation

A recent article published on Yahoo.com suggested seven things you should consider doing during a Divorce, and specifically, during Divorce Litigation.  After reading the article, it became apparent that the converse was not necessarily implied.  So here, Foreman & Caraciolo, P.C. is suggesting ten things that you should not do during divorce litigation:

10.       Don’t Forget About your Budget

Divorce can be expense!  Court costs and Attorney’s fees are not the only expenses you should expect to incur during divorce litigation.  Most couples have based their monthly budget on two incomes, which is generally halved once the parties separate.  It is often difficult to set up a household with less money available for expenses.  Any support that might be available in the form of child support, spousal support, or Alimony Pendente Lite often requires a conference before actually receiving the first support disbursement.  That means it could be up to three months before you receive any help through the Office of Domestic Relations.  It is important to set up a budget which is both affordable, and accounts for this initial separation period.

9.         Don’t expect a quick settlement

Divorce litigation can be very lengthy.  Initially, it is important to gather all of your information including bank account and credit card statements, statements from retirement accounts, mortgage and deed information, and any documentation of your debt. It is often easier to gather this required information at the time of separation and you are encouraged to do so.  However, before any settlement conversations should take place, you will want to know both parties financial information in order to make an informed decision.  A quick settlement in order to obtain a quick infusion of cash will often lead to regret as the long term loss is much greater than the short term gain.

8.         Don’t be bullied by your spouse

At the initial separation, people often think that it will be simple and cheap to reach a quick property settlement and be done with the whole matter.  In some cases, usually where the parties get along well and have a realistic understanding of the marital estate, quick resolution is possible.  However, there is often a good reason why you decided to separate in the first place, and sometimes that reason is due to an overbearing or controlling spouse.  You may be tempted to fall into the same traps that existed during your marriage and allow your spouse to dictate but the breadth of the marital estate, and a “fair” settlement.  Don’t do it!  Remember that legal advice is just a telephone or e-mail away.  Moreover, hiring an attorney to perform your negotiations takes that pressure off your shoulders and ensures that you will not be bullied into an unfavorable settlement agreement.

7.         Don’t forget about the IRS

It is common for people to overlook the tax consequences of the change in circumstances that often results from Divorce Litigation.   Common mistakes include forgetting to change the amount of Federal Withholding from employment, potential tax consequences of a retirement withdrawal, and improperly calculating overall tax liability when a change in household includes fewer dependents.

6.         Don’t forget to update or create your will

Although it is often the case that a person cannot write a current spouse completely out of his or her will, an update or creation of a will is necessary upon separation.  It is not automatic that a spouse will no longer inherit from your estate simply upon separation.  A will is necessary to ensure that your spouse does not take the entire marital estate that you have been fighting over.  In addition, consider that any beneficial interest paid to a minor at the time of your demise may be paid to that minor’s only remaining guardian – your spouse!  Consider contacting an attorney to discuss ways to remove your spouse from your will, and how a trust may resolve the issue of leaving your estate to a minor.

5.         Don’t compare your Divorce litigation with the Divorce litigation of someone else

Every situation is different, and rarely are two Divorce matters exactly alike.  People will often complain that some other person’s Divorce litigation was easier, less time consuming, less expensive, and less emotional.  However without being a part of that litigation, it is impossible to know how closely issues in that case mirror your issues.  An unreasonable spouse can lead to protracted litigation and a stressful experience. Rather than compare your Divorce to a friend or family member, speak with your attorney about why your matter seems to be problematic and ways that the Divorce Litigation may be brought to a quick and favorable conclusion.

4.         Don’t forget that Social Media is often public

Be careful what information you provide in your Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Reddit, and other social media sites.  The information provided to those social media sites is often public and may be obtained with the proper use of a subpoena.  Public conversations regarding strategy discussed with your attorney can undermine important legal tactics.  Other information, like a new relationship, a new job, or change in assets, might have an impact in your Divorce Litigation and can cause unnecessary expense if disclosed improperly.  Update your “friends” and “followers” to eliminate anyone who is not supportive of you and might report back to your spouse in order to limit your potential exposure.

3.         Don’t forget that Divorce is primarily an economic matter

The very emotional decision on whether you will continue to be married frequently occurs prior to initiating Divorce Litigation and retaining competent counsel.  The Divorce Litigation is primarily about your equitable distribution rights and what a fair division of marital assets should be for you.  Decisions regarding your economics can be more difficult if an emotional struggle is attached to each asset.  Most of your property is replaceable, and most of your accounts can be divided.  One goal of your attorney should be to assure that you will be economically stable and independent when the Divorce Litigation finally concludes.

2.         Don’t confuse your Custody Case for your Divorce Case

Custody is about what is the best interest of the children and Divorce divides your property based on equitable distribution.  The two matters are often filed at the same time and can lead to some confusion.  At times, what is best for a Custody Matter is not necessarily ideal for a Divorce. For example, a stay-at-home parent is often preferred to raise a child, but may not be a benefit in Divorce Litigation.  In addition, it is usually beneficial to maintain the marital residence for Custody, but sometimes impossible on one income for Divorce.  It is important that your attorney explain the standards of both these matters, and that you understand that Custody and Divorce are two separate issues.

1.         Don’t hire the wrong Attorney!

It is important to seek competent counsel that you feel comfortable will both fight for your interests and provide accurate and insightful advice.  Remember that most attorney’s offer free consultations and that there is often no rush in your decision on which attorney to hire.  You should consider whether you trust the attorney, work well together, and have similar strategy considerations.  After all, it is counter-productive to be fighting with an attorney who was hired to fight for your, not with you.  Call our office in Central Pennsylvania for a free consultation and we will be happy to schedule an appointment, answer your questions, and help guide you to a successful conclusion of your Divorce Matter.