The emotional roller coaster of the divorce process can lead to common mistakes. While it is often difficult, there are ways to avoid them in a California divorce or legal separation. Missing something simple could lead to conflicts down the road or prove costly to your financial future.
Settling too quickly without understanding the implications
Property division is complex. Not fully understanding the law might result in an unfair or lopsided settlement. Taxes could take a large bite out of a property award if not structured correctly.
California is a community property state. All real and personal property acquired during the marriage including out-of-state property is community property and belongs to the couple equally. Separate property is the exception and only applies to the following property:
- Property owned before the marriage;
- A gift, bequest or inheritance made to one spouse;
- Rent or profit from a separate property; and
- Property purchased with the proceeds of separate property.
Designating property community or separate is not always straightforward. A pre-nuptial agreement may also affect property classification. It is important to make sure that any pre- or post-nuptial is valid. Settling for less than you need or promising more than you can pay are costly mistakes with long ranging consequences.
Acting while angry
Hurt and anger surface at different times. Be careful where you post negative comments. A tweet or Facebook post may reach your ex-spouse through networks of friends. Increasingly social media evidence, including texts and photos play a part in divorce and custody cases.
A focus on facts – what is possible, what are your rights – is a better way to reach a solution. When you feel anger boiling to the surface, find a therapist to help work through the feelings.
Forgetting that children need to come first
The judge considers what is in the best interest of a child when approving a child custody settlement or writing a final order after a trial. A reduction in the time spent with children is always difficult.
Consider whether a joint custody agreement will provide enough stability. For infants, studies suggest that more overnights away from a primary caregiver can result in attachment issues. Older children may have concerns about proximity to school and activities.
Failing to consult an attorney
The final mistake is failing to contact an attorney when your relationship breaks down. An experienced California family law attorney can explain your rights and options available. Mediation or negotiation may resolve the divorce more quickly. Litigation is necessary in others.