Divorces are never easy, and rarely are they amicable and full of agreed-upon terms from the onset. You may be looking to get your divorce over as quickly as possible. While that is understandable, rushing through the process could lead you to make mistakes in your divorce agreement.
Agreeing to a settlement is the ideal way to resolve a divorce in most circumstances. By settling, you can avoid suffering more profound losses, both in terms of finances and custody. But while this method is typically preferred, rushing through it can lead to mistakes that can prove to be just as devastating as a judge’s ruling could be.
At the offices of Hunter Fowler, we’ve overseen countless divorce proceedings and related family law issues. Our job is to make sure that our clients know these costly mistakes and to avoid them. If you’re considering a divorce agreement, taking the time to learn these missteps could save you a lot of unnecessary trouble.
Here are 6 common mistakes to avoid in your divorce agreement.
1. Agreeing to a Settlement Immediately
Wanting to get the settlement over with as soon as possible is understandable. A divorce is a painful event whose impact continues long after it’s over. But agreeing to a settlement without carefully analyzing it could result in an unfair agreement. Worse still, it could leave unresolved issues or end up being unenforceable.
Even in an amicable or uncontested divorce, take the time to go over the agreement’s terms carefully with your lawyer. Your divorce attorney will help you understand all the fine details. If you do, you’ll know what’s being lost or gained and can negotiate if need be. Doing so takes more time, but it’s the best way to avoid surprises once you finalize the divorce.
2. Forgetting About Taxes
While your focus may be on more important issues like custody, don’t forget about your separation’s tax implications. The division of assets will affect your tax liability. Remember that assets include not only property but financial accounts as well.
Doing a thorough valuation of your assets is the best way to assess what your tax liability will be preemptive. Be sure to go over special rules for retirement and investment accounts with your family law attorney. Failure to do so could leave you on the hook for higher taxes as well as child and spousal support payments.
3. Skipping Discovery
The discovery process allows both spouses to ask for specific relevant evidence from each other. To tie back to our previous point, discovery can be used to force one side to prove the value of particular assets. While you should want to evaluate your assets already, you can use discovery as an opportunity to ensure your spouse’s claims are correct.
Using the discovery process may seem excessive, especially during such a tense time, but it’s not necessarily about trust (or a lack thereof). While discovery is an excellent tool for when communication breaks down, it can also prevent honest mistakes. When dealing with all the complexities of divorce proceedings, anyone could let something slip and not realize it.
4. Letting Yourself Get Emotional
Negative feelings are natural during a divorce, but failing to control them when interacting with your spouse will come back to haunt you in some form or fashion. It may feel like you’re in a battle, but letting your feelings get the better of you can lead to settlement discussions falling apart. When that happens, your case may go back to court, and your spouse could use how you acted or the things you said against you.
Parents, in particular, are prone to emotional outbursts, especially when discussing child custody issues. With the possibility of your divorce heading back to court, raise your concerns with your lawyer in private. If you feel your spouse’s proposed terms are unfair, your attorney can address them in a way that won’t hurt you.
5. Forgetting Your Budget
When we say — forgetting your budget, we’re not referring to attorney’s fees or taxes. We’re talking about what you can afford once you finalize the settlement and you are divorced. When you pay your bills, and take care of your household, how will you be able to sustain yourself from day to day?
It may seem strange to consider, but keep in mind that some assets have recurring costs. For example, houses have recurring mortgage payment and property taxes. Cars have payments, insurance, and repairs that will be ongoing. If you get such an item from the division of assets, can you afford to keep it?
Remember that you’re going from sharing income and splitting expenses to being entirely on your own. You may have less income to spend, but the recurring costs will stay the same. Calculate your income post-divorce and use it as a factor when dividing assets.
6. Asking for Too Much
Working towards a settlement lets you divide assets and custody however you and your spouse agree. However, you shouldn’t treat it as a power struggle between spouses. Trying to take more than what’s reasonable is a surefire way to kill any goodwill left between you and your spouse. It could also ruin any chance to reach an easy settlement.
You Can Count on Hunter Fowler
Let Attorney Hunter Fowler help you navigate your divorce settlement and the complexities it brings. Fowler’s caring demeanor and in-depth knowledge of Tennessee divorce laws can prepare you for what lies ahead in your separation. Contact Hunter Fowler today and see what he can do for you.