Five Mistakes to Avoid When Getting Divorced

Caution1This article should be filed under the heading, “Things clients should ask, but don’t.”  Granted, getting divorced is rarely a walk in the park, so it is very understandable when clients are too stressed to think clearly and ask all of the pertinent questions.  That’s one reason we welcome phone calls and emails between meetings.  An informed client is an empowered client, and mid-divorce is a good time to feel empowered.   So, without further ado, here is a list of five mistakes to avoid when getting divorced.
  1. Rushing.  It is natural to want to get it over with, but the decisions you make now may affect you and your children for the rest of your life.  Take your time and consult your lawyer to help you consider all of the potential ramifications surrounding a settlement before you accept any offer from your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
  2. Taking legal advice from your stylist.  The easiest divorce is a complicated matter, and it can get even more complicated when you add children and significant assets.  The average non-lawyer does not know what you ‘should’ get in a divorce, and more than likely does not know everything about your circumstances. Let your well-meaning friends offer emotional support, then change the subject.
  3. Forgetting that equitable does not mean equal.  A couple’s assets and liabilities will be equitably divided based on the individual circumstances of the case, including each party’s expected earning capacity, the value of separate estates, individual income needs, and so on.
  4. Forgetting to consider tax consequences.  We are not a tax law firm, but even we know that alimony is deductible for the payor but child support isn’t.  Rather than agreeing to pay additional child support relative to extra curricular activities or non-covered medical expenses, opt to pay a little alimony for a period of time not to exceed the number of years until the children reach adulthood.  Vice versa if you are the probable recipient of alimony – ask for extra child support instead.  Of course, you should consider all of the potential tax consequences and while we are not experts, we can help  you find one.
  5. Hiring a second-rate lawyer or deciding to forego a lawyer altogether.  It should go without saying, but say it we must.  You should not represent yourself in a divorce any more than you should perform surgery on yourself.  You wouldn’t cut out your own tumor or have it done at Wal-Mart.  Yes, I’ma lawyer and this tip may seem self-serving, but skimping on a lawyer  during your divorce is one mistake you will wish you never made.  Find someone with the right combination      of experience, tact, and tenacity to get the job done right the first      time.
And finally, a bonus tip.  If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a million times: “If I knew then what I know now, I never would have married him/her.”  It’s worth the time and money to hire an attorney before you get married to discuss how community property rules work in California and what you can expect to be the issues if your potential marriage does not work.  While we can’t predict whether Mr. or Mrs. Right will turn into Mr. or Mrs. Crazy, we can explain basic divorce law and recommend the best options for protecting your assets. At the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger, we will aggressively pursue the best outcome possible for you in your divorce or custody proceedings.  Judy L. Burger is known for her tenacious representation of clients in high conflict cases in and around the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento areas.  If you are a parent facing a divorce or custody dispute, call us today to learn more about how we can help.  Call (415)293-8314 in the San Francisco Bay area or (916)631-1935 in the Sacramento area, or contact us online via our confidential inquiry form.