5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Ohio Divorce
Updated: Mar 5, 2019
Let’s be honest-divorce does not bring out the best in people. Oftentimes, hurt feelings, financial misconduct, and adultery by one or both parties can lead to acrimonious and highly contested litigation. No matter the grounds for your divorce, it is important to keep in mind that, at the end of the day, you want to protect what matters most to you in life, whether it be your children, your long-term financial well-being, or the ability to find closure and move on to the next phase of your life. It is absolutely crucial to avoid the following common pitfalls during Ohio divorce proceedings.
1.Fighting to Keep an Asset for Emotional Reasons
During a divorce, parties may attempt to negotiate who will keep the marital home strictly because of emotional attachment. The home may have been purchased together in happy times, or it may be where the children were raised. Either way, there are happy memories in the home and clients try to hang on to these memories during difficult separations. Trying to keep the marital home may be a mistake for several reasons, most importantly, long-term financial survival. Perhaps having a large home was doable while parties were married. However, that same home may not be feasible with one income-even with spousal and child support taken into consideration. Consult with your attorney before investing money in a legal battle over your home or other assets. It is important for you and your attorney to have transparent conversations about your long-term financial plan and what that may mean in terms of divorce asset division.
2.Not Completing QDRO Paperwork
A topic less talked about than it should be in divorce proceedings. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a court order that specifies how retirement accounts, such as pensions and 401(k)s, will be divided. When dividing certain types of retirement accounts, the plan administrator cannot pay the non-employee spouse their share of the account without a QDRO in place. Whether agreed-upon or issued by the court, the preparation of the QDRO should occur at time of divorce, or soon thereafter. It is important to complete the QDRO process as part of the divorce proceeding to ensure that the party receiving the benefits (alternate payee) receives his specified amount in a timely fashion. This is often a missed post-closing obligation.
3.Slandering Your Ex-Spouse
Here we must reexamine the context of the opening paragraph of this blog post. Your divorce may be the result of mistakes made by one or both parties. Often, when one party does not wish to get a divorce or in cases involving adultery, vengeance and unnecessary mudslinging ensue. Refraining from posting slanderous material about your ex-spouse on social media outlets, as well as refraining from unnecessary text and email communication can prove extremely beneficial to the outcome of your case. If your ex-spouse is being slanderous or otherwise difficult, it is important to keep the following in mind: dragging your divorce out for months, or possibly even years, because of hurt feelings is simply burning through the money and marital assets you both worked hard for years to attain. Before going on the defense or engaging in heated arguments, it is important to keep in mind that text messages, emails, social media interaction, phone calls and videos can be submitted to the courts as evidence that may harm your case.
Finally, as a last note on this topic, remember that harboring negative feelings and dwelling on the present situation only accomplishes one thing-the inability to move on to a new and much happier phase of life.
4.Putting Your Children In the Middle
Much like the topic discussed in point 3 above, attempting to foster a loving relationship between your children and ex-spouse (when possible) is imperative for the child’s emotional well-being. Divorce proceedings take a heavy mental toll on your child, and making him/her “choose a side” can leave emotional scars for years to come. Although you and your spouse have chosen to separate, children of the marriage still very much deserve to have a relationship with both parents and both sides of his/her family. If your child is struggling with the separation, counseling with one or both parents may be deemed necessary.
5. Not Having the Right Team Behind You
Choosing the right attorney is the most critical step. Last week’s blog will give you some great insight on choosing the best legal representation. However, you may also need to utilize the services of financial planners or real estate agents, specifically as it relates to the marital home and other assets discussed in point 1 above. If your spouse in unemployed or underemployed, hiring a vocational expert to asses his/her potential income could significantly lower your spousal support payments. Your attorney and the experts can and should work together to get you the best possible result.