5 Mistakes You Can Avoid During Your Wisconsin Divorce Case
Going through the pain of a divorce can throw ordinarily reasonable people into a state of crisis and impaired judgment. At a time like this, it can be easy to act impulsively and make errors that can damage your case. While there is no such thing as a “perfect” divorce, by circumventing specific acts, you may be able to keep from making an unpleasant experience worse. Here are 5 mistakes you can avoid during your Wisconsin divorce case:
1. Having Unrealistic Expectations
When someone walks into a divorce attorney's office for the first time, they may be in a state of shock, angry, devastated, or even in denial about what is happening in their life. Some people believe that they can hire an extremely aggressive attorney and get everything they want during the divorce. Divorce is not going to give you justice or pay you back for the pain your partner has caused. The law is structured to divide your marital assets and debt equitably, and arrange for child placement, custody, and support and possibly some spousal maintenance if appropriate. Your attorney can advocate for you, but it's vital that you work with someone who can help you form realistic ideas of what to anticipate during and after your case.
2. Not Having Your Own Attorney
Sometimes one party will hire an attorney and approach the other offering to pay for the divorce provided it is “agreed.” This is essentially asking one person to enter into the divorce without the benefit of representation. In this instance, a divorcing person may not feel they need to hire counsel if their ex’s attorney has drawn up all of the legal documents. Divorce involves making decisions that can impact almost every aspect of your life. While it is possible to legally end your marriage by signing documents, you can also make crucial and irreparable mistakes if you don’t fully understand them. If your ex has an attorney and you do not, you will be at a significant disadvantage. Countless clients have walked through my doors after going through their divorce without an attorney, asking me to “fix” the mistakes they made. The problem is, many things in divorce are final, and cannot be fixed. Don’t make the mistake of waiting to seek counsel until AFTER the divorce.
3. Posting Sensitive Information on Social Media
Today, social media has become a conventional means for connecting with others, staying in contact, and venting our emotions with friends and family. While some users are relatively private and judicious with their comments, others are more outspoken. During divorce, it can be tempting to rant on social media about how angry you are at your ex and his or her new partner or complain about parenting issues. Likewise, you may be tempted to post pictures of yourself enjoying time with friends in a bar or with a new love interest. It’s critical to know that you have no expectation of privacy on social media, and anything posted there can be used as evidence in your divorce trial. The safest move is to shut down all of your accounts until the divorce is final. If you have to keep your accounts open, adjust all of your privacy settings to the most restrictive level, refrain from posting anything, remove tags, and delete images and content that you believe could be used against you.
4. Failing to Fully Disclose Financial Information
One mistake some parties make is failing to be completely forthcoming about their assets. This is not an option. In Wisconsin, when a divorce is filed, both parties are required by law to complete financial disclosure statements on forms provided by the court. Both parties must list all of their real estate holdings, bank accounts, stocks and bonds, mortgages and notes, life insurance, retirement, business, and future interests, as well as other financial information, even if inherited. The deliberate failure to provide this information on the form constitutes perjury. In the digital age, it's tough to keep this kind of information a secret. Eventually, it will come out, and when it does, the concealing party will face severe consequences with the court. Even after the divorce is over, if the other party finds out something was not disclosed, the law provides a way for the injured party to return to court and recover the hidden asset.
5. Involving Your Children
While it would seem self-evident that divorcing parents should always keep their children out of their conflicts, kids often have to endure the damaging effects of divorce. Even well-meaning parents can have a bad moment and make a negative comment about their ex in front of their children. Doing what you can to cooperate with the other parent may be the best you can do under the circumstances. Avoiding arguments in front of your kids and not having them carry messages back and forth is always advisable. Your children are watching you both and need to see that you can be civil to one another for their sake.
One of the best ways to avoid mistakes during divorce is by working with an experienced Wisconsin family law attorney who can provide you with insight and advice every step of the way. Attorney Karyn Youso of First Look Family Law has extensive experience representing clients during divorce and can help you understand your options. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.