In family law cases, I often see clients make similar mistakes. Most, if not all, family law issues—divorce, abuse, custody concerns—are stressful. And stress often makes people do things they otherwise wouldn’t.
Here are some of the 5 most common—and sometimes the most costly…
Moving out of the Home:
Moving out the home and allowing the other spouse to enjoy exclusive possession of your home during the divorce process is often a recipe to pay more in alimony/spousal support, child support, and to have limited contact with your children. When one spouse moves out, household bills such as the mortgage and utilities still must be paid, which the Court will often consider when the spouse living in the home petitions for financial relief. Thus, moving out can be a recipe for paying the expenses on two residences. Additionally, if you move out without the children, you establish a precedent that the children primarily live with the other parent.
Thinking Temporary is Really Temporary:
It’s often not. In custody cases especially, Courts want to know what the children are familiar with, and what their routine has been since the parents split up. Thus, agreeing to a “temporary” order where the other parent has the children the majority of the time will often put you at a disadvantage at a final hearing, since your children’s school, extra-curricular, and homework routines will all revolve around living with the other parent.
Signing an Agreement without Speaking to an Attorney:
Agreements involving the distribution of property and alimony are final when signed, meaning that they usually cannot be amended. Therefore, if you sign a bad agreement, you are stuck with it. For child support and child custody, while agreements can be modified, Courts will always look to prior agreements for guidance in entering future orders. Clients often make the mistake of signing an agreement before meeting with an attorney, when the attorney may not be able to offer any assistance.
Thinking Your Social Media Posts, Text Messages, and Emails are Irrelevant:
In Family Court, social media posts can and often are shown to the judge. Additionally, text messages and emails can also be shown to the judge. Especially when communicating with the other party, clients, in the heat of the moment, can post, email, or text message the other party in a manner that will reflect poorly upon them when they get into Court. Thus, if you are involved in domestic relations litigation, you should assume that your social media posts, as well as your texts and emails to the other party, can be viewed by the judge deciding your case. Additionally, clients should discuss any relevant social media activity, text messages, and or emails with their attorney, as it is often compelling evidence.
Failing to Consult with an Attorney Early in the Process:
Some of the most critical events in a divorce or custody case occur at the outset. Many clients make the mistake of waiting to consult with an attorney after something bad happens to them in their case. In domestic relations cases, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and clients are often well-served by seeing an attorney at the outset of the process.
In reading this, you should understand that each case is different, and your case may require a completely different course of action. Feel free to reach out to find out how you can avoid these common pitfalls. Contact Patrick Boyer at [email protected] or 302-504-7294