Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce or Custody Case
Many of my prior blogs have dealt with divorce or custody case issues, focusing mainly on content. But there are of course other facets of family law that are equally important. In this blog, I will be focusing on a few common mistakes to avoid when navigating through a divorce or custody case.
FIGHTING OVER CHEAP PERSONAL PROPERTY DURING A DIVORCE
Nearly every attorney has stories about couples who spend thousands of dollars arguing over personal property that has little more than “garage sale” value. When you find yourself fighting over the vacuum cleaner, it may be a good idea to ask yourself why you are doing so. Battling over items that are nominal in value only adds to your attorney fees. Judges loathe having to divide personal property and usually settle on having the item in dispute sold. Bottom line: it’s just not worth the hassle.
REFUSING TO COMPROMISE ABOUT ANYTHING
Do not fall into the trap of thinking you will get everything you desire in a settlement. Divorce requires compromise, unless you obtain a stipulation that turns over to you what you want, which is not a given. If you don’t compromise, your case could drag on longer than necessary, with the Judge ultimately deciding not to award you the things you sought. It’s a good general rule, then, to be open to compromise.
WHAT IS THE DISCOVERY PROCESS? CAN I IGNORE IT IN AN EFFORT TO SAVE ON ATTORNEY FEES?
While money is a factor for everyone, skipping out on an important step could actually increase your fees. Whether you are in a divorce, custody, or other family law case, things need to be handled correctly the first time. A majority of cases will include what’s called discovery. Part of divorce cases include a financial component. The financial component in divorce proceedings initially require disclosure of some — though not necessarily all — documents. Financial discovery allows you to request specific documents that may be relevant to your divorce and which may not have been disclosed initially. Some of those document requests may include:
- Bank account statements
- Retirement accounts
- Debt documentation, and more
In child custody cases, there is substantial value in the discovery process. Interrogatories, which are formal questions presented by your attorney to another party for response, can provide you with important answers to questions before a trial. This line of questioning is a useful tool that can assist in the preparation of a hearing because it can help you determine the other party’s true position through his/her responses.
Skipping discovery, in an attempt to speed up the process, or to save money, could lead to regrets down the road. If you bypass the discovery process, you could jeopardize your chances to reveal hidden assets or to obtain critical information. While discovery is not necessary in every case, it should not be overlooked as a possible, and valuable, legal tool.
I AM FED-UP WITH MY SPOUSE. CAN I USE THE DIVORCE PROCESS TO GET BACK AT THEM?
Whether you are in court for a divorce or child custody case, showing spite toward the other party is never a good idea. Bringing a “revenge” mindset seldomly ends well and often results in a poor outcome. While it is difficult to set aside your emotions, a good attorney will help you to manage them so that they do not interfere with the court proceedings. Some useful tips to keep in mind include:
- Try not to act on your feelings. It is better to have your attorney listen and react than for your words/actions to disrupt or ruin your case.
- Make an effort to focus on the future. This is more important for cases involving children. Try not to zero-in on what the other parent says or does. Instead, focus on the children’s best interest.
- Seek out therapy if needed. It can prove valuable by helping you to manage your emotions better. A positive mental attitude will also make it easier for your attorney to advocate for you.
Naturally, mistakes do happen on occasion. No one is perfect. While a divorce or custody case can bring out the worst in people, there are ways to improve the odds for a good outcome. Hopefully, this blog has provided you with some insight on how to handle the common mistakes that can occur during a divorce or custody case.
If you find yourself ready to file a case in Wisconsin, the first step is to find an experienced attorney who will educate you on family law so that your rights and responsibilities become clear to you. Seeking a legal advocate now could reduce how long and drawn out your case could become.
To speak with one of our experienced family law attorneys about your divorce or custody case, contact JG Law today for a free consultation.