Top 10 Mistakes People Make in Their Divorce Proceedings

  1. Failing to Pick Your Battles

    Not everything has to be a fight and you do not always need to be right. Remember what your goals are and focus on what is important.   Making everything a battle will increase your expenses, increase the animosity between you and your spouse and will only serve to create a great deal of unnecessary stress for your family.

  1. Focusing on the Past

    You cannot change what has already happened. Your lawyer cannot change what has already happened.   The court cannot change what has already happened.   It is important to focus on how you can move forward in a manner that will be best for you and for your children.   Ask yourself, “What do you need to do to achieve your goals and to make sure that you are able to achieve some sense of emotional and financial security for the future?”

  1. Letting your Anger / Emotion Get the Best of You

    Going through a separation or divorce will be one of the most difficult things that your family will experience.  There will be a lot of anger and a lot of emotion that flows from the breakdown of the family unit, however; decisions about your future and your children’s future should not be made out of anger and certainly, should not be made based on a desire to hurt or punish the other party.

  1. Putting Your Head in the Sand

    Refusing to deal with your divorce and failing to take any steps to move forward in the hope that the problems will either disappear or magically resolve themselves will only result in delay and frustration for everyone involved. It is important that you respond to your lawyer when required and that you comply with certain timelines that have been agreed to or otherwise imposed.

  1. Involving Your Children in the Battle

    It will be tempting to share certain information about your divorce with your children or worse yet to seek their opinion on different issues.   No matter how mature, bright, unique or special your children are, they should not be involved in adult decisions.

  1. Not Having Enough Information to Make Important Decisions

    In many relationships the parties will each fall into certain roles and take on different responsibilities. It is not uncommon for one party to take care of all of the family finances while the other party takes care of other day to day matters.    Before you make any decisions with respect to issues of support or the division of your property, you need to review and understand all of the necessary information regarding your spouse’s income, the status of your family’s assets, liabilities and monthly expenses.  In some cases, if there is a complicated financial structure (which may include stock options, private corporations, or significant liabilities) it may be necessary to involve financial advisors to ensure that both parties understand their rights and obligations.

  1. Relying on Advice from Friends and Family

    As you are going through your separation and divorce well-meaning friends and family will often provide you with information about their divorce or give you advice on how you should handle your divorce. Every family is different and how your family may wish to deal with certain matters may be very different from how your best friend or neighbour chose to deal with similar issues.   Often people do not understand the law that is applicable to separation and divorce or confuse their own beliefs of what is right and wrong with what a judge may or may not do in a similar situation.   Trust the advice you are getting from your lawyer as he or she will have the necessary information about your unique situation and how the law will apply to that situation to allow you to make the best decision for you and for your family.

  1. Hiring the Wrong Lawyer

    Many people will hire a lawyer without taking time to consider what type of lawyer would best work with them to achieve their goals and interests. Not all lawyers are the same.   It is important that you feel comfortable with your lawyer and are able to trust the advice that she or he will give you.   Ask your friends or family if they may have anyone they have worked with and recommend.  Meet with more than one lawyer before you make your decision.   If you have hired a lawyer but are not happy with his or her approach or the service he or she is providing, you may want to consider hiring another lawyer.    Remember however; a good lawyer will not simply tell you what you want to hear, a good lawyer will tell you what you need to hear.

  1. Texting or Emailing Without Thinking

    Technology is convenient.  It allows for instant communication and sending a text or an email will allow you to communicate with your spouse without actually having to speak to him or her which may be easier than having to engage in a conversation.   Unfortunately, emails and texts also allow people to say things that they may not otherwise be comfortable saying in person or on the telephone and as such we see a lot of inappropriate comments being exchanged by people in moments of anger and upset.  Texts and emails often end up being used as evidence in court of unreasonable behaviour and it is difficult to prove that the comments made were taken out of context or otherwise justified.   Think before you press send.  In a divorce, your emails and texts will be read by lawyers, other experts involved in your file and possibly by judges.

  1. Not Having Patience

    Many people who are going through a separation or divorce are hopeful that matters that are in dispute will be settled quickly.  If both parties are reasonable and have the necessary information, it may be possible to reach a settlement relatively quickly, however; if one or both parties are still angry, emotional, not informed or simply not ready to settle, it will take time to conclude matters.  There will also be delays caused by understaffed courts and long waits to schedule court applications and trials.   Rushing into a settlement is more likely to result in mistakes and an unfair result.