Have you made the decision to divorce in 2022? As you start the divorce process in New Jersey, you need to be aware of costly mistakes that women often make in divorce — and how to avoid them.
Here are five common pitfalls women should watch out for, with tips for how to keep your divorce error-free.
Pitfall: Failing to Pandemic-Proof Child Custody Arrangements
If you and your ex were still under one roof during the height of the pandemic, you may have been able to work together to supervise your children during lockdown’s remote learning. As the Omicron variant picks up steam this winter, and with so much unknown after that, it’s a good idea to include parenting time plans that can apply in case of a public health emergency.
If your children’s school were to close down for an extended time, how would you and your ex split parenting duties? What if one of you gets sick or is required to quarantine — who would take care of the children? What about making up missed parenting time due to travel bans or other obstacles? Having an emergency plan already in place can make navigating uncertainty much less stressful. It also saves on costs because it prevents you from needing to return to court in the future.
Another Covid trap for divorcing parents in 2022 is vaccination. Are you and your ex on the same page with the plan for your kids? Rather than have this turn into a fight, get clear now on who will have legal custody (to make medical decisions) and what the choice will be with getting the kids vaccinated. In some situations, including a separate agreement that specifically addresses Covid vaccines could be wise for avoiding problems down the road — and the costly legal fights that go with them.
Mistake: “Guestimating” marital finances puts alimony at risk
Mistakes often arise around issues that are based on methodical collection of financial information, such as alimony. If you’ve let your spouse handle the money, you might not know where to find this information or truly understand your financial picture.
As a result, you may feel rushed or overwhelmed in completing divorce financial paperwork and end up “guestimating” you living expenses. This puts you at high risk for receiving too little in alimony, which is very much dependent on precise finances. Alimony errors can be costly to fix and could put your financial life at a significant disadvantage well into the future.
Look at our list of financial paperwork needed in divorce to give you a head start on what to collect. Your attorney can help you wrangle information that’s difficult to track down.
Mistake: Vague goals
One certain way to have a frustrating divorce is to go into the process with an unclear or scattered idea of what you want. When you keep changing your mind, or only have a vague sense of what you want, it can prevent any real meaningful negotiations from occurring. For example, if you negotiate for keeping the vacation cabin, the other side agrees and then you later change your mind, it will not only drag the process out, it will also increase your legal costs and frustrate your ex’s side. Your ex may go from being settlement minded to being litigation minded as they don’t want to continue spinning their wheels trying to work with someone who has no idea what they want. This is a recipe for sky-high divorce costs.
Take time NOW to plan your priorities. Make a wishlist of specific goals and then talk it over with an attorney to fine tune your goals in alignment with what’s realistic.
Mistake: Insisting on keeping the family home, even if you can’t afford it.
Women tend to be “nesters” who derive much of their identity from the home they are able to provide for their children. While it’s certainly easier not to move residences when so much of your life is in flux, staying in a home that you can’t afford will make things much harder down the road. When deciding whether or not to remain in the family home, you must set your emotions aside and ask yourself practical questions. On top of the mortgage, can you pay property taxes, homeowners’ insurance, and regular maintenance? Will you have money set aside to cover inevitable pricey emergencies such as leaky roofs and busted sewer pipes? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” or, “I hope so,” then selling your home is the wise choice.
Plus, the real estate market is hot right now! You may want to take advantage of cashing out of your home at the peak of its worth and then roll over your part of the equity into a new lower cost home to minimize your mortgage payments. Consider too that moving to a new place that has no association with your marriage will also help you disentangle yourself psychologically from your ex.
Mistake: Hiring a “shark” attorney that promises revenge
Women often make the mistake of hiring an aggressive “shark” attorney who promises to take their ex “to the cleaners.” A shark will then start fighting over every issue in the divorce almost immediately, even if there was no real disagreement over the issue to begin with! “Sharks” tell you they have your back, but their approach is all about making mountains out of molehills so they can max out their billing. This aggressive approach might intimidate your spouse at first, but it will also cost you significant time and money. Plus, if the court believes that you and your counsel are taking unreasonable positions, you may be responsible for paying your spouse’s legal fees as well.
Ultimately, you want a strong attorney. This is a lawyer with the skill and savvy to get what you want — and save you time and money while doing so.
Have questions about your divorce? Start safeguarding yourself today by scheduling a strategy session with one of our seasoned family law attorneys. Get answers to all your questions and a concrete action plan. Call us at 888-888-0919, or please click the button below.