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Five common mistakes when going through a separation and divorce.

Written by Marisa Vekios

Going through a separation is a stressful period for couples and their families. Often people’s judgment is clouded by emotions prompting quick reactions during a separation.   Common mistakes can be made while navigating through the process. The separation process which ultimately leads to a divorce will take months or sometimes even years and you do not want to risk delaying settlement because of mistakes along the way. Here are some suggestions on what mistakes to avoid when going through a separation and divorce.

  1. Not retaining legal counsel

All separations are different. Friends and family often offer advice based on their separation and divorce experiences and that advice may or may not be applicable to your personal situation. Having direction from a lawyer is important. It is essential to know what your rights and obligations are whether you are negotiating outside of court or litigating your matter. If your matter is in court, it is important to know what information is relevant and useful to bring to the judge’s attention and having counsel can often streamline the court process to avoid undue delays. Your counsel can also help you explore other options to assist with facilitating settlement, such as mediation.

  1. Failing to disclose information or hiding assets

It is a legal requirement for all separating couples to openly disclose all assets and liabilities. Do not hide or undervalue your assets. It is never advisable to overstate debts or report lower than actual income. Be honest with your estranged spouse. Lying about your finances can have very serious consequences.

  1. Involving the children

Ensuring that the children are not involved in adult matters is critical during a separation. It is not wise to pass messages through the children or speak negatively about the other parent in the presence of the children. Do not let the children be the victims of the separation — the children’s best interests should be paramount following a separation.

  1. Failing to negotiate and not considering an alternative to litigation

People often end up spending more money when they are not willing to be reasonable and negotiate because feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness take over and alter their judgment of what is fair. Trying to get revenge through a separation is never the right answer, it will only end up causing you more grief and money in the end. Being open to alternative dispute resolution options, such as mediation can help couples reach a settlement in a quicker, less expensive and fair manner.

  1. Failing to anticipate how long the separation process with last

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that the separation process will be relatively quick. Even the most amicable separations take time, if you want it to be done properly. Full and frank financial disclosure must be prepared by each side, exchanged, and reviewed. Equalization of the net family property must be determined. Negotiations need to take place with respect to the entitlements and obligations of each party, whether that be determining spousal support or child support. If children are involved, careful attention must be given to crafting the right parenting plans for the parties. Finally, a comprehensive agreement must be drafted.

While going through a separation be mindful of the above and avoid making an already difficult situation more challenging than it needs to be.