There is no such thing as being a “pro” at getting a divorce. Everyone makes mistakes along the way. Unless you’re a divorce lawyer, it’s just not something you deal with on a day to day basis nor should it be. Luckily for anyone who has made it to this page, I’m going to list out some of the most common mistakes people make during an Arkansas divorce case. I hope you can keep from making one or more of these missteps during your divorce.
1. Texting Horrible Things to Your Ex that You Don’t Mean
Divorces don’t come out of nowhere. Most often, one or both of the spouses are so mad at the outset of a divorce that they could spit fire. The text messages sent exchanged between spouses could usually make anyone blush. I guarantee you no one sending those types of rage-infused text messages is thinking about a judge reading the private texts at the time he or she is furiously typing on a handheld phone stopping only to hit send, but that is the reality. Many of these text messages do end up in the hands of a judge presiding over a divorce case.
Recommended Action: If you do not have minor children with your spouse, block his or her number from your phone. Yes, you heard me! I’ll say it louder for the people sitting in the back: If you do not have minor children with your spouse, there is no need to speak to your spouse again. Hire an attorney, and let your attorney do the talking for you. There is a 100% chance you will refrain from sending a text message you regret or that could be used against you in the divorce case if you have your spouse blocked from your phone. If you do have a minor child or minor children with your spouse, well, bless your heart. No, I’m kidding. Here’s my recommended action for you: Consider limiting all of your communication to a mobile app specifically designed for co-parent communication. We recently wrote a blog post on that topic. You can read it here.
2. Failing to Realize it’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
There are a million and one things you can and will get mad at your spouse about during a divorce. Make that two million and one things if there are children involved. Although each and every spat will be infuriating, each bad behavior by your spouse won’t amount to something that is actionable or advisable to take on as an issue in your divorce case.
For instance, when your spouse inevitably drops the children off five minutes late during your possession time according to a temporary order, you may want to have him or her held in contempt. But is it best to take up the Court’s time over your spouse being five minutes late? Probably not. And it may even come back to haunt you by showing the Court you are not actively trying to get along with your co-parent. In this scenario, you should focus on your ultimate goal, which is likely gaining a desirable amount of parenting time with your chidlren in a final order.
Recommended Action: Fill in the blanks to the following sentence, and keep the sentence in your phone to refer back to throughout your divorce case:
“I’m most worried about _____________ during the pendency of my divorce case. As far as the final divorce decree, the most important thing to me is _____________.”
We have our divorce clients fill in these blanks in their initial intake form they fill out for us. Filling in these blanks reveals what is most important to you in your divorce in the long run – rather than the day-to-day frustrations of dealing with your ex that you will have the urge to ask your attorney to deal with during your divorce.
Focus on what is most important during your case.
3. Focusing on “Fairness” Rather Than the Law
One of the main themes that divorce clients get hung up on is the concept of fairness. In Arkansas, fault in a divorce has nothing to do with division of property. It’s also possible that your spouse could go on to make more money than you. You should listen to your divorce attorney about what is likely and what is possible as far as property division and support. Then you should work with your attorney on his or her plan to obtain your best case outcome under the law.
If you aren’t familiar with how property is divided in Arkansas, read our article on the topic here.
Recommended Action: Accept that you were done wrong and resolve to not let it happen again. You have already made the decision to divorce this person, which means you are headed in the right direction. Decide you won’t let this person take another second of your happiness and allow your divorce lawyer to do his or her best to achieve your financial or custody goals for you – without rehashing all the ways your spouse was unfair to you throughout the marriage. Revisit #2 above and focus on what is most important.
4. Not Having Your Own Lawyer to Oversee Your Settlement
This one may seem like a no brainer. However, there are many people that find themselves in poor financial situations at the time of their divorce. Many times, financial distress is actually the reasonfor the divorce or one of the main reasons. It’s easy to look for the most low-cost option of divorcing your spouse. For some people, that’s filing the divorce on their own or having their spouse hire the attorney for what he or she refers to as an “uncontested divorce.”
There is nothing wrong with an uncontested divorce when you hire an attorney and your spouse does not. But there is nothing positive about being the spouse that does not have representation.A divorce attorney has allegiance and an attorney-client relationship with only one of the spouses. If you aren’t that spouse, you need to hire your own attorney to review the settlement agreement to ensure you have someone looking out for your interests.
Why is this so important? It is VERY UNLIKELY you will be able to do anything about a provision in your divorce decree that you do not like or that you believe you “did not agree to” after the decree has been entered by the Court. I can’t tell you how many calls we get about individuals wanting to appeal a divorce case wherein they signed a settlement. Without going into the intricacies of why there is no valid appeal to be made, the law simply does not allow for a “do over” in that way.
Recommended Action: Hire an experienced Arkansas divorce lawyer to represent you.
These are just a few things that can go wrong during a divorce case. While it’s likely you will make a mistake during this unique time in your life (no one is perfect), you don’t have to make any of the mistakes I’ve listed for you today. Don’t wait to talk to a divorce attorney. An experienced Arkansas divorce lawyer will remind you of these potential pitfalls along the way to keep your eyes on the ultimate outcome you want.
To get in touch with our Arkansas Family Law firm, call (870) 345-4722 if you are near our Texarkana, Arkansas office or (479) 935-8955 if you are near our Bentonville, Arkansas office. We limit our law practice almost exclusively to divorce and child custody cases to better serve Arkansans across the state seeking bold family law representation.