Divorce is a huge deal. It makes sense that, once you come to this decision, you’ll confide in people close to you. It also makes sense that these people who care about you and your well-being will want to help in any way they can. Lots of people are quick to offer advice. While that’s all well and good, it may not always be practical or applicable. In some instances, it can even undermine your case.
Family, friends, co-workers, and other well-wishers may have your best interests in mind. They may have even gone through the divorce process themselves. Though well-intentioned, they don’t always know what they’re talking about.
There’s no roadmap for divorce; every case is different. What worked in one divorce may not work in another. While a particular strategy may have paid off big time in one instance, that same approach may totally derail another. With that in mind, here are five pieces of advice that, while well-intentioned, may seriously backfire or even damage your case.
1. You Have To File For Divorce First
Divorce is a process, often a lengthy one. Though some may offer advice to be the first one out of the gate, that’s not always the best case. True, the spouse who files initially gets the ball rolling. But that doesn’t necessarily put you in an advantageous spot or put your spouse at a disadvantage.
Though some people believe if you file for divorce first you win, that’s simply not true. It can be good to be proactive and take an assertive stance, but only if you can back it up. If you have a game plan, an overall strategy, by all means, go ahead and file first. But don’t simply file just for the sake of being first. If you don’t have a plan of action to follow, this won’t help you. In the eyes of the court, it doesn’t matter who files. Being better prepared no matter the circumstances will be your best bet
2. Transfer Property Out Of Your Name
The division of property plays a huge role in divorce. This is where you and your spouse split up your shared assets. Depending on how this shakes out, it can have a substantial impact on your financial future. Some may suggest transferring property out of your name and into that of a friend or family member. While it’s natural to want to protect your assets and interests, this is not sound advice.
No matter how clever you are, or how clever you think you are, you will likely be found out. Your ruse will be discovered. The court and the opposing party’s counsel have been through this countless times before. They’ve seen every trick, they know where to look, and your deceptions will almost certainly come to light in the discovery phase. Not only does this reflect negatively on you and make you appear untrustworthy and like you have something to hide, it can negatively impact your case.
3. Get A Restraining Order
If there are children involved in your divorce, child custody fights can become heated and contentious. In order to gain an advantage, many people get restraining orders, whether the circumstances call for one or not. At best, this strategy will result in a few short-term benefits, like exclusive use of the residence. But in the long run, stretching the truth in this manner can have detrimental effects, and this is advice you may not want to take.
Most obvious of these consequences is the fact that you may wind up paying additional thousands of dollars in legal fees. This can create ill will that may manifest in other areas of your divorce. And increased animosity between parents may also negatively impact the children. Used truthfully and as intended, restraining orders can be important tools for protecting yourself and your children. Mishandled, they can be damaging to your case. If there is truly abuse or you are truly in danger, by all means, get one. But if not, it will be in your best interest to simply file for divorce and handle things in a civil, straightforward manner.
4. You Have To Move Out Of The Shared Home
By the time they get to the point of filing for divorce, many couples already live separately. Many people may give you this same advice. And when things are going south in a relationship, bailing and moving out may seem like the best option. It can, however, set negative precedents for a divorce proceeding.
Moving out of the shared home can have an impact on a number of areas in your divorce. It can be detrimental to child custody decisions and it can impact visitation down the road. Leaving the home in your spouse’s hands can lead to larger spousal support payments or steer the division of property at a later date.
5. Do It Yourself
It is possible to handle your divorce entirely on your own. In fact, with all of the resources online, it’s easier to accomplish this than ever before. You can download the forms, fill them out, pay the fees, file the paperwork with the appropriate court, and be done with your marriage. Simple. Many choose to go this route and may offer advice that reflects that.
Often times divorce is far from simple. The best time to do it yourself is generally when a marriage is relatively short, when there are no children involved, and when there is relatively little property to divide. The longer a marriage, the more complications there are, and the trickier the process becomes. The likelihood of making a mistake, one that could potentially cost you dearly, increases exponentially in these situations. Though it is possible to take a DIY approach, you may be best served by hiring a family law attorney, or at the very least having one look over the paperwork before anything becomes final. The money you spend now may save you even more in the future.
A lot of people get divorced. With a divorce rate estimated to be between 40% and 50%, you likely have many acquaintances who have gone through the process. They may have advice when it comes to your divorce. Some will be practical; some less so.
No matter how well-intentioned, it’s important to take this advice with a grain of salt. Every divorce is different and what worked in one situation may not work in another. Some advice may be straight up terrible and do more harm than good. At the very least, explore all of your options before making any decisions.