Mistakes are a part of life. Most of us have been making them since we first started to learn to talk and walk. It's how we humans learn how to do things. Divorce, however, is different. It's not something we're raised to know how to do if we're lucky. And yet, divorce is also one of those areas of life where your mistakes can be very costly. Here's how you can avoid three common mistakes we see people make during their divorces:
1. Rushing Through the Financial Discovery Process:
Is it possible to resolve your whole divorce without knowing all the financial details of your and your spouse's marital estate? Sure it is, but the real question is should you? The answer to that most important question is certainly NO. And any attorney or any other divorce professional who encourages you to do so should be fired immediately. Divorce in South Carolina requires the process of "equitable division" of the property, assets, and debts acquired during the marriage. How can you divide something you don't know exits? And once you know it exists, how can divide something if you don't know it's true value?
Another often overlooked part of the financial part of divorce is determining the amount of money each party needs to support themselves in their new future. Everyone knows that each spouse's lifestyle will likely take a hit following the divorce, at least temporarily, but it's nearly impossible to plan for that new future without knowing exactly which resources you'll have to work with going forward into your new life.
There are certain steps during the divorce process which can be finished quickly, if necessary, but rushing through the financial discovery will rarely work in your favor in the long run. Make sure you have all the information you and your attorney need to make informed, financially intelligent decisions before you settle your case or present your case for trial.
2. Hiring the Wrong Divorce Attorney:
The old saying, "you get what you pay for" applies in divorce law, too. Choosing which divorce attorney to represent you through this difficult transition is one of the most important decisions you'll make throughout the entire process. There are lots of articles online about how to find the just the right one for you, but the one piece of advice they all have in common is that you must choose the lawyer who is the right fit for your case and your goals. For example, if you and your ex generally agree on most things and your goal is to resolve the case by a reasonable mediated agreement, hiring a "pitbull" or "shark" divorce attorney will likely not be a good fit. He or she will be prone to an aggressive approach which may not be necessary to protect your rights, thus inciting anger and defensiveness on the other side. This will lead to a longer process and higher costs, not to mention hurt feelings which may make co-parenting with your ex in the future very difficult.
You need to find an attorney who is well-experienced in family law, not someone who dabbles in it. Your divorce settlement will likely dictate the circumstances of your life for the next several years so this is not the time to hire your "friend" who is a lawyer but who doesn't normally practice in Family Court because he's willing to do you the "favor" of handling your case. Hire the best you can afford to hire and then follow his advice throughout his representation of you.
3. Using Social Media to Air Your Frustrations:
In today's world, it's easy to forget that social media, whether it's Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., is a public forum and in many ways can be accessed by those who will use it against you in your divorce case. Once your divorce case begins, you cannot delete your social media profile (that would be destroying potential evidence and is frowned upon by the court), but you can stop using it. Many people make the mistake, however, of using it as a virtual therapy session, or worse, a virtual punching bag with their ex as their #1 target. They don't realize that everything they post online can be, and often is, downloaded and used as an exhibit against their character in family court cases.
The damage these things will cause to your case isn't worth the momentary satisfaction of humiliating your ex online. If you are struggling with feelings of anger, try talking with a trusted friend, or ask your attorney for a referral to a trained therapist who is experienced in helping people through the divorce process.
In conclusion, mistakes are a part of life, but avoiding these three common mistakes when facing a divorce in South Carolina will likely save you a lot of money and offer much more piece of mind for you and your family while going through it.
The Stevens Firm, P.A. - Family Law Center has provided exceptional legal counsel and support to families throughout South Carolina for over two decades, handling all matters of family law, such as child custody, child support, and divorce. We are well-equipped to handle all divorce and family law matters, no matter your circumstances. Contact us at (864) 598-9172 to schedule an initial consultation.