Even as a divorce lawyer, I never want to advise people to rush into divorce; however, we see time and time again the mistakes that good people make when they try to stay in a broken relationship. If you know your marriage is over but just want to wait a little longer, a lot of bad things can happen. When emotions run high, you may find yourself in a physical altercation that could result in an arrest or protective order. Or as a parent, you may make decisions that are not in the best interest of your children. We can help you avoid most of these mistakes by starting the planning process early.
While hiring an attorney may not be what you want to do, it is important to start planning for the impending divorce. Frequently we will see that one party has hired an attorney, and started putting plans in place, while the other party is still trying to work on the relationship. What this means is that while your spouse is making very calculated moves towards divorce, you are missing out on the opportunity to put a plan in place.
As an attorney, our role in working with you is to plan, plan, and keep planning. This means we sit down and take inventory of everything that is going on in your life—assets, children, homes, etc. We then discuss what your ultimate goals are going to be at the end of this process. This allows us to focus on the goals as the issues become more emotional—we make sure we keep our eyes on the prize.
Just because you hire a divorce attorney does not mean that you are going to end in divorce. We can talk you through a lot of the planning phase and give you advice that helps you avoid possible mistakes. This will allow you to focus on your relationship and make the ultimate decisions on how the relationship is going to go.
One recent example of a client that waited too long is that his wife started selling all of their assets out from under him and trying to hide the money. While we were able to find the money and stop the selling of the rest of the assets, this was something that could have been avoided if he talked to us sooner.
When you are going through a divorce, it is a stressful process and you may find yourself wanting to escape that stress by moving out of the marital home—leaving your spouse and children in the home. This is almost never advisable.
When you move out of the marital home, you are leaving your spouse comfortable. There is a good chance if the court is involved at this time, you will be ordered to continue paying bills on the marital home while you are also trying to set up your separate life. As much as you have relieved your stress by moving, you have also relieved their stress because you are no longer at the home. This means that as this process meanders along and we are trying to negotiate a settlement, your spouse will be less likely to negotiate because he/she is very comfortable.
Further, if you leave the children at the home and move out, it is very likely that you will not get primary physical custody—the court is very likely to just leave custody the way that you chose to leave it when you moved out.
If possible, stay in the home.
When you are going through a divorce you must understand your financial situation. You should start separating your accounts as soon as you can. This includes credit cards, banking accounts, etc. The goal is to be able to control the incoming and outgoing money, not to leave your partner destitute. If you do try to leave your partner destitute, the court will quickly step in to fix that.
You also want to pull a credit report as soon as this process is getting started. This will give you a snapshot of all of your open accounts at the beginning of the divorce. As we get closer to the end of the divorce, we will have you pull another credit report and compare the two to make sure there are no surprises.
Most couples intend to keep their case amicable as they go through a divorce, but it isn’t always possible. If the other side realizes you will do anything to avoid going to court, they will use it against you. You don’t want to be at a disadvantage in your case.
A knowledgeable family law attorney can tell you what you will win, and lose, by going to court. Then you can make your own decision about what’s right for you.
If you’re facing divorce, it’s time to get counsel. The top-rated attorneys at Melone Hatley, P.C. are here to help! Melone Hatley, P.C. is a family and estate firm serving Virginia Beach, Richmond, and Northern Virginia. Our philosophy is to provide all of our clients with the highest quality legal representation, innovative legal solutions, and unsurpassed dedication to customer service. Through our high standards, we strive to be a trusted resource to our clients.