Divorce is never an easy or pleasant experience. However, the actual legal process of divorce is more complex than many people realize when they first arrive at the decision to end their marriage. Divorce is an inherently emotional experience, even for those who are convinced their marriages need to end as soon as possible. Thus, it’s common for divorcing spouses to feel completely prepared for their divorce proceedings—but once the process is over, the emotions under the surface take their toll.
Unfortunately, many people who embark upon the divorce process allow their emotions to overtake logic. As a result, they may make rash decisions that negatively impact their future for years to come. If you are preparing to divorce in Kansas City, MO, it’s vital to keep a few best practices in mind. You should also know the behaviors you must avoid ensuring a more positive divorce.
Stay Off Social Media
One of the worst mistakes you can make in your divorce is posting about it on social media. Everything you post on the internet can become publicly accessible no matter where you post it, so it’s vital to think carefully about every post before publishing. Even seemingly harmless posts and comments can have a detrimental effect on an ongoing legal case. These circumstances prompt many attorneys to advise their clients to avoid social media entirely while their cases are ongoing. You can passively browse posts by others but refrain from posting anything yourself until you have your divorce order in hand.
Some of the comments you make on social media can directly influence your divorce proceedings. For example, imagine you are attempting to pursue alimony but have photos posted of you cohabitating with a new romantic partner before your divorce is finalized. Your spouse’s attorney will likely leverage your posts against you and negate your claim to alimony.
Don’t Make It Personal at Your Own Expense
Divorce can dredge up powerful emotions and past trauma between divorcing spouses. While your divorce will involve many difficult personal issues, it is vital that you do not allow these issues to influence your judgment when it comes to the practical concerns of your divorce. For example, some divorcing spouses believe they can “teach a lesson” to their counterparts by forcing them to endure divorce litigation. The belief that having one’s day in court is the best way to ensure a favorable outcome to divorce is a misguided one. In fact, this decision can ultimately cost them as much, if not more, than it costs their spouse.
While you may be tempted to push for divorce litigation to exact some type of revenge against a spouse who has wronged you, remember that you must pay legal fees for the duration of the case, as well. Many divorcing spouses who push for litigation eventually discover that their emotional decisions caused them to pay much more than they should have while settling a divorce.
Alternative dispute resolution, including mediation, is almost always an option. Even when a couple cannot mediate every aspect of their divorce, they can still streamline their proceedings significantly by taking advantage of mediation. You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can negotiate various aspects of your divorce under the guidance of a mediator. Once you reach an impasse, you may simply transition to litigation to handle the remaining issues. This saves both of you time and money.
Do Not Attempt to Hide Assets
Missouri is an equitable distribution state when it comes to property division in divorce. This means that when a judge must determine property division for divorcing spouses, they must choose the most equitable arrangement based on the financial situations of each of the spouses. While the thought of dividing your assets with your soon-to-be ex-spouse can seem alarming during the early phases of divorce, do not fall into the trap of attempting to hide assets to shield them from property division.
Siphoning cash from a shared account to your own private account, making bogus loans to friends and relatives, purposely wasting shared assets, running up credit card debt, or attempting to “offshore” assets subject to division under Missouri’s equitable distribution laws will lead to severe penalties once discovered. If an investigation reveals that a divorced spouse knowingly misrepresented their assets, they face contempt of court and possibly even criminal prosecution for fraud and/or perjury. Your Kansas City, MO divorce lawyer can assist you with completing your financial disclosure statement. Being truthful with this part of the process not only prevents you from suffering criminal penalties for intentionally hiding assets but also increases your likelihood of securing a favorable outcome to your divorce proceedings.
Hire the Right Divorce Lawyer
One of the biggest mistakes anyone can make in a Kansas City, MO divorce case is attempting to navigate the process without legal representation. While you may believe that your divorce is a straightforward case and you will have minimal trouble handling your proceedings on your own, it is always worth investing in legal counsel to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome. Even if you attempt to remain as objective as possible, the emotional aspects of the divorce process can easily lead to significant mistakes that cause problems for years. A good attorney can help you avoid these mistakes.
If you attempt to handle your divorce on your own, you must manage extremely strict procedural requirements with the court, your day-to-day personal affairs, and planning for the next stage of your life all at once. If you have children, this will be even more difficult. Hiring an experienced Kansas City divorce lawyer not only increases your likelihood of securing the best possible outcome for your divorce but also makes the entire process much more manageable.
Of all the mistakes you could make during divorce, failing to hire legal counsel is the most significant. Hiring the right lawyer can effectively prevent you from making other critical errors, and you can rely on your legal team for ongoing support and guidance through your divorce proceedings. Contact an experienced Kansas City, MO divorce lawyer as soon as possible once you have made the decision to end your marriage.