12 Common Divorce Mistakes

divorce mistakesDivorce mistakes are more likely if you opt for litigation rather than a collaborative divorce.  Going to court encourages fighting, the stress of litigation makes it more likely you will become emotional, and the lawyers will control the divorce because court rules and procedures are complex.  Common divorce mistakes clients make include forgetting about taxes, allowing friends and family to influence them, letting your emotions control your decisions, not considering the liquidity of assets you receive in the divorce, not securing support payments with insurance, trying to hide assets, quitting work to get more support, not being prepared for settlement negotiations or mediation, dating during the divorce, using the children as bargaining chips, getting emotionally attached to assets, and neglecting post-divorce financial planning.

Tax Consequences

There are often hidden taxes associated with assets, such as a capital gain on appreciated stocks or penalties and taxes on early withdrawal of pension funds.  Make certain you understand these costs before accepting the asset in a settlement.

Shadow Advisors

Most divorcing people have family or friends who give them advice about the divorce.  However, family and friends don’t know the law or the facts of your case, so it’s important to avoid following these shadow advisors’ advice and listen to your attorney.

Client Emotions

Feelings run high during a divorce, especially if adultery or abusive is involved.  However, divorce it not the time or place to get even.  The goal of a collaborative divorce is to maximizes benefits for both you and your spouse and develop a parenting plan that’s best for the children.  See a counselor if you become too emotional during the divorce.

Asset Liquidity

Not all assets can be sold quickly; a second home or raw land can take months to sell.  Moreover, pension plans trigger penalties and taxes if withdrawn early.  Make certain you receives assets that are easy to convert to cash during the divorce so you will have funds for living during the transition to single life.

Securing Support Payments

Alimony, child support, and other divorce payments must be secured by adequate insurance to make certain you are protected if your ex-spouse becomes disabled or dies.  Otherwise, may have little or no income.

Hiding Assets

It’s important to discloses all assets and facts to your attorney during a collaborative divorce.  Trying to hide assets by transferring them to a friend or avoiding telling a spouse you intend to relocate as soon as the divorce is final can have serious financial and legal consequences.

Lowering Income for More Support

Child support and alimony are determined mainly by client incomes.  Some people think they can get more support if they quit working to lower their income.  However, if you are not working, seeking employment, or furthering your education, you risk receiving no spousal support in Texas.

Not Preparing for Settlement Negotiations

Just because you opted for a collaborative divorce and you aren’t going to court, doesn’t mean you and your attorney don’t need to prepare for settlement negotiations or mediation.  You need a complete inventory and appraisement, including all liabilities, and a clear idea of what sort of parenting plan will work for you and the children when you enter settlement talks.

Dating During the Divorce

It’s natural to want to date before the settlement is final.  However, few things make an estranged spouse so angry as seeing the parent of his or her children dating during the divorce.  I always advise my clients not to date until the divorce is final because the spouse and children will resent it.

Using Children as Bargaining Chips

Divorce is hard enough for children without putting them in the middle of a divorce.  Don’t use the children as communications channels, threaten a custody fight to get a better financial settlement, or fight in front of the children.

Getting Attached to Assets

Never become attached to the family home, a pension, or that painting you bought in Europe.  Getting attached to an asset can create financial disaster.  Make certain you understand that assets are fungible and don’t get in a bad financial situation because you fell in love with the family home.

Post-Divorce Financial Planning

It’s essential to develop a post-divorce budget so you know whether to sell the family home after the divorce.  In addition, don’t forget to revise your will so the right people will inherit.


The most common mistakes attorneys and clients make during a divorce include not considering the tax consequences of a settlement, allowing family and friends to interfere with decisions, allowing emotions to dictate decisions, forgetting you may need cash after the divorce, not securing divorce payments with insurance, trying to hide facts or assets, quitting a job to get more child support or alimony, failing to prepare for settlement negotiations or mediation, dating during a divorce, putting the children in the middle of the divorce, getting emotionally attached to an assets, and neglecting post-divorce financial planning.


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