MISTAKE #5: WANTING YOUR "DAY IN COURT"
Divorce is best viewed as the break-up of a business partnership. A long and drawn out divorce trial will ensure that you pay your attorneys significant funds, but will not ensure the best outcome. It is more likely that you and your spouse working with your attorneys, can divide your partnership in a way that provides the best possible future for both of you, taking into account all of the information you both have about your lives and goals (most of which will never end up in front of a Judge). Unfortunately, many parties are too focused on their anger or sadness over the ending of their marriage and can be heard saying things like "I just want my day in court." While the desire to be heard and express one's feelings about the end of a marriage is understandable, the court is exactly the wrong forum for this type of closure. The Judge will not give you a trophy or any other sort of validation regarding who was "right" and who was "wrong" and therapists are much cheaper than lawyers.
MISTAKE #4: FAILING TO MAKE FULL DISCLOSURE
Another costly mistake that many parties make in divorce cases is failing to disclose all of their assets or debts. Whether through laziness or deceitfulness, parties often fail to put all of their information on their Financial Statement. Financial Statements, however, are signed under the pains and penalties of perjury as TRUE, ACCURATE, and COMPLETE statements of all of your income, expenses, assets and liabilities. The consequences of lying or filing an incomplete Financial Statement are significant and could include a Judge finding you to be an unreliable witness. If a settlement is reached in your case and it is later discovered that a particular asset was left off your Financial Statement, the settlement could be voided for fraud, and that asset awarded to your spouse. So take the Financial Statement seriously and don't lie. Full disclosure is the key to a reasonable and quick settlement. Failure to disclose will almost certainly ensure drawn out and expensive litigation.
MISTAKE #3: TELLING THE WORLD YOUR SIDE OF THE STORY
Although I always encourage my clients to confide in and find support in close family members or family, I also warn them against the danger of sharing too much. The dangers of sharing your private information on sites like Facebook have made recent news, but this is just the latest way to share too much. While it is important to have a support system when going through a divorce, talking to anyone who will listen usually results in your personal information making it back to your spouse, or even into court. Mutual friends can inadvertently disclose important strategies while trying not to take sides. And helpful friends explaining what their sister's best friend's brother's divorce was like can provide poor and unreliable information. If you have concerns make sure you discuss them with your attorney first and only discuss your case with your closest confidants. In addition, make sure you consider how your case is different than anyone else's.
MISTAKE #2: FLAUNTING OR FOCUSING ON THE BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND
Many divorces begin with the discovery of an affair. Whether or not this is the true cause of the divorce is not as important of a fact as it used to be, especially in a no-fault divorce state like Massachusetts. Regardless, the introduction of a third person into the complicated dynamics of divorce can still make the process much more difficult, often causing the parties to focus on the emotions involved in a divorce instead of the practical breakup of the business partnership. These problems arise when one party focuses all of their energy and anger over the divorce on the significant other. Although, being hurt or angry is natural, focusing on the significant other as the source of your problems is not constructive. Often the reason this occurs, though, is become the other party unnecessarily flaunts the new relationship. For example, there is no reason for the new significant other to accompany you to court.
MISTAKE #1: INVOLVING YOUR CHILDREN IN YOUR DIVORCE
The mistakes parents make involving their children in a divorce case range from a simple slip of an angry snide comment about the ex, to a revealing argument meant to win over your child because you think they're old enough to understand, to purposeful comments meant to alienate the child from the other parent. In any of these cases the damage to the child is significant. A simple comment releasing a parent's frustration can put a child in the middle of an argument that they truly can't understand. Children, naturally inclined to want to please their parents, will often agree with both parents, only increasing their discomfort when parent's discuss the "preferences" of their children. Children (even for the most part adult children) want to love both their parents and should be given that opportunity. Even if one parent starts an argument through a child, responding only does more damage. Encourage your children to love the other parent and keep your adult problems to yourself.