Common mistakes when getting a divorce include one or both parties failing to consult an attorney, concealing or dissipating assets, and using children as pawns in the proceedings. When an individual does not understand either his legal rights or how his behavior can affect the divorce, he may end up with a less than advantageous financial and custody settlement. In a worst-case scenario, individuals who make common divorce mistakes may end up having to cope with criminal charges and alienation from their children.
Getting a divorce is almost always an extremely stressful experience, and it is understandable that many people would prefer to delay dealing with the hard issues of divorce such as asset division and who will take primary responsibility for the kids. A divorce is a legal proceeding requiring legal advice, however. For example, a couple may agree to divide their assets or arrange child custody in a way that may not be fair to one party, simply because one or both parties may be ignorant of the law. While many attorneys encourage divorcing couples to work out a mutually agreeable settlement, the attorneys prefer that their clients not do this until the attorney can review their financial situation. Once a verbal agreement has been made, it may be very difficult for a spouse to backtrack and demand her fair share later on.
Another common mistake in getting a divorce and one that can cause significant problems for spouses years after a divorce is final is that of concealing assets or debts. Most divorce lawyers want to have a complete picture of a couple's financial situation so that they can advise their clients as to how the division of assets should be handled. Unfortunately, some spouses may lead separate financial lives in which they either have extra money or investments set aside or have racked up massive debts. Failing to reveal this information during a divorce may be considered fraud and could result in criminal charges for the lying spouse or, at the very least, a very expensive legal battle and divorce settlement.
Some spouses make the mistake of entering into a new romantic partnership while getting a divorce. Unfortunately, this can cause significant friction between the divorcing spouses, particularly if the romantically involved spouse introduces his new partner to his children. The courts may take a dim view of this situation, and the upset spouse may become vindictive, making the process of getting a divorce take longer than it should. Individuals who are romantically involved with a new partner prior to the finalization of divorce may also be subject to accusations of dissipating, or wasting, marital assets if they spend money on their new partner or on facilitating the new relationship via plane tickets or other transportation costs. If the court finds that the spouse dissipated assets, that spouse may be held liable for their loss and repayment when the financial asset division takes place.