By Gianna Huesch
Are you hoping to avoid a bitter divorce and move on with mutual respect and goodwill? There’s no doubt divorce is a major challenge in life and a time of heightened emotions. It can be all too easy to allow the negative emotions to take over, and as a consequence, divorce lawyers often see divorcing couples make the following mistakes.
Mistake: Destroying trust completely
You once loved your partner enough to vow to remain together for life. No matter how things have turned out, your partner deserves to be informed of your wish to divorce as early as possible to enable them to plan for their new future too. Untangling your lives while maintaining respect for each other involves being as honest and open as you can, despite the hurt you are likely feeling. Behaviours that destroy trust and can quickly lead to a deterioration in civility include:
· Slowly moving your possessions out of the home to avoid your partner getting wise to your plans;
· Establishing a new living arrangement before your partner even knows you want to leave the relationship;
· Secretly changing bank accounts or modifying other financial arrangements;
· Dating before your separation is finalised;
· Disparaging your partner to friends and family;
· Refusing to compromise on anything;
· Trying to use the kids to hurt your ex; and
· Hiring the kind of aggressive divorce lawyer who boasts they will bury your ex.
Mistake: Stuffing up the finances
Divorce lawyers see clients cause themselves unnecessary angst by:
· Underestimating living expenses;
· Not considering all the financial aspects of divorce, such as tax implications, investments, and other financial matters;
· Hiding or hoarding cash;
· Cancelling important financial arrangements such as insurance policies, which may be a short term moneysaver but can have major implications down the line; and
· Selling off possessions before a partner is made aware of divorce plans.
Mistake: Walking away empty-handed rather than go through legal action
It may feel liberating to just give everything to your ex and walk away. This may provide temporary feelings of relief, however our financial responsibilities don’t miraculously disappear and you will still have creditors, your children and your future to think about. It’s important not to give up or feel defeated: your lawyer will be able to advise you on your rights and help you negotiate a settlement that achieves the best possible outcome for both parties.
Mistake: Refusing to attempt mediation
In Australia, when children are involved, mediation is a prerequisite before any litigation can take place. But even if children are not part of the equation, mediation can be extremely helpful in nutting out property division and financial obligations such as spousal maintenance. A trained mediator will help you narrow down the issues in dispute so that even if you do end up in court, you’ll save time and money. Mediators are also invaluable in assisting warring couples to establish more positive co-parenting relationships.
In the end, your conduct does matter to a judge. If you are found to be hiding assets or acting unreasonably, for example, with regard to the children, the court will look less favourably on you than on the spouse who is child-focused and attempting to co-parent in a healthy manner.
If you are interested in an alternative to the often destructive and sometimes very expensive path of court proceedings, you may wish to consider a collaborative divorce, which offers a mechanism for reaching a legally enforceable resolution of your family law issues without court. At Alliance, we have a special interest in collaborative law–please call Cristina Huesch or one of our other solicitors on (02) 6223 2400 to discuss whether it may be suitable for you.
(Please note: Our blogs are not legal advice. For details about how to obtain correct legal advice please arrange a free conference with Alliance Family Law.)