Going through a divorce is a stressful time in someone’s life and that’s why the goal of our firm is to get our clients results and guide them through the process as quickly and painlessly as possible. However, in order for us to help you, you need to help yourself. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 mistakes we have seen clients make over the years in hopes of helping others not fall into the same trap.
- Listening to third parties and not listening to your attorney. Just because your friend, co-worker, aunt etc. went through a divorce it’s a completely different set of facts/situation than yours. You hired an attorney to analyze the facts specific to your case to guide your decisions and secure the best possible outcome; listen to them they know your situation better than the third party.
- Procrastinating, especially ignoring discovery. If your lawyers ask you to do something (make a call, get documents etc.) there is a reason for it and they can’t do their job if you don’t get them what they need. Procrastinating can not only harm the overall outcome of your case, but it will also cost you more in fees if your lawyer needs to follow up multiple times to get documents.
- Agreeing to terms in a separation agreement with outside oral promises. This is never a good idea and although you may think your lawyer is just being paranoid, your lawyer gets paid to be paranoid.
- Signing a settlement agreement before talking with your lawyer. You need to talk to your lawyer so you’re educated enough to handle the negotiations. You usually won’t get as good of a deal alone, and if you have a lawyer there is a reason you hired him/her so don’t try to do important things like this yourself.
- Inaccurate information on a financial statement. This leads to credibility issues which harm your case in the end by leaving a bad impression with the other side and more importantly the judge. It’s not worth lying, just disclose everything accurately and honestly so you don’t have a problem later.
- Not making your divorce your priority. This is a major life event and how your divorce ends will affect the rest of your life. A divorce doesn’t last forever on average it takes 1.5-2 years from start to finish, but not getting information to your lawyer and otherwise just putting your divorce on the back burner will make it last even longer and the end result is likely not going to be as beneficial.
- Don’t shoot from the hip– not preparing for a hearing or mediation or court. There are two main types of clients, the type that just pays their retainer and walks away thinking the lawyer will take care of everything and the micro-managing client who is too involved. You need to be actively involved in your case and prepare for important meetings and court dates, but at the time time let the lawyer be in the driver seat.
- Firing off emails and texts when angry or tired. This is never a good idea and they almost always come back to haunt you later. As an alternative, type in a message but do not put in the sender address or type in the note section of the phone. Always have a lawyer review your message before sending if it’s even slightly questionable. Never type anything you wouldn’t want blown up on a poster board in front of the judge.
- Calling the lawyer too many times. Wait until you have a legitimate question or problem. Some clients call their lawyers all day and all night and later make comments that they have “run out of money” when they see their bill.
- Lying. Law is all about credibility and lying to the court or the other side is a major issue. It’s not worth what you think you’re going to get out of it. If your honest your going to get a better result and not worry about your lies coming back to you later.
This post was written by Maria Tilkens