10 Common Alabama Divorce Mistakes
Most people who go through a divorce in Alabama have little or no experience with the legal system. These people are unfamiliar with the Alabama divorce laws and process. Most clients don’t know what to do, in what order to do it, or where to find reliable Alabama divorce information and answers. This lack of experience and knowledge can lead to expensive divorce mistakes. That is why it is important to get reliable information from a qualified Alabama attorney as soon as possible. The ten most common Alabama divorce mistakes are explained below:
Failing to educate yourself
If you have thought about divorce or your spouse has mentioned it, the first thing that you need to do is educate yourself. You need to have a basic understanding of Alabama law and the divorce process. If you do not, you can unintentionally make mistakes before your separation that can negatively affect the outcome of your divorce. You need to be familiar with the most common Alabama divorce mistakes so that you can avoid them. You also need to research any specific issues that you know will apply to your Alabama divorce case. A few common examples are issues involving child custody, alimony or retirement benefits. Understanding how judges decide these issues before you file your Alabama divorce can prevent expensive strategy errors. Make sure that your information comes from a qualified source. Don’t rely on well-meaning advice from non-lawyer friends and family members. A qualified Alabama attorney can be an excellent resource to answer your preliminary questions. Many firms, like The Burleson Firm, offer a free initial consultation. If properly used, this consultation can save you much more than an hour of legal fees. If you have questions, contact The Burleson Firm. The Burleson law firm is centrally located in Birmingham, Alabama and handles divorces in any county in Alabama.
Failing to plan ahead before filing your divorce
A variety of reasons can cause this common mistake. Sometimes the client is in denial about the spouse’s desire for a divorce. These clients wait until their spouse serves them with Alabama divorce papers. Once you are served, it is obviously too late to plan BEFORE the filing. Other times the client is emotional and just wants to get the divorce over with and move on with his or her life. They focus on the stress of the marriage or the thought that they need to get away from the spouse. They fail to think about the long-term price that they will most likely pay if they mishandle the divorce. Unfortunately, once the divorce is over and the client starts living the life that their decisions have created, they often regret that mistake. Failing to plan ahead can give your spouse the opportunity to cut off your financial resources and empty out all the bank accounts. Having no resources can leaving you with no money to support yourself during the divorce or to hire a good Alabama attorney to represent you. Lacking money can trap you in a bad marriage longer or place you at a disadvantage going into the divorce. Failing to plan can allow your spouse the chance to destroy evidence before you make sure that you have a copy. For example, your spouse may hide financial records or delete embarrassing photos or messages from their Facebook account. Each case is different, but advance planning can usually benefit some issue in every Alabama divorce. You do not have to be sure that you want to file for divorce to consult an Alabama attorney or start planning. Many Alabama lawyers, like The Burleson Firm, give a free initial consultation to new clients. There is no obligation to hire the attorney and planning ahead makes your Alabama divorce lawyer’s job so much easier if you do file in the future. The Burleson Firm, centrally located in Birmingham, Alabama, can advise you regarding divorce planning in any Alabama county.
Assuming that the divorce will be uncontested or that your spouse will be fair.
No one wants to go through a contested Alabama divorce. All divorce clients want their case to be smooth, quick and easy. Clients want to avoid the stress, arguing and expense that usually come with a contested Alabama divorce. Some people think or hope that if they want an uncontested Alabama divorce, their spouse will too, which is not always true. Sometimes the spouse wants to drag the divorce out to make the other party suffer. Sometimes the spouse is unreasonable on purpose to get revenge or feel compensated for a believed wrong. Sometimes the spouses sincerely try to settle the divorce, but just cannot agree on what is fair and reasonable. Some people hope for the best and hire an uncontested Alabama divorce lawyer. These people often think that doing so will help push the case in that direction. An uncontested Alabama attorney is a lawyer whose practice is set up to do almost nothing but uncontested Alabama divorce cases. Uncontested Alabama divorce attorneys are usually not trial attorneys. Hiring an uncontested Alabama divorce lawyer does not give your spouse a reason to settle. In fact, it is my opinion that hiring an uncontested attorney can have the opposite effect if your spouse hires an experienced contested Alabama divorce attorney. Don’t assume what your spouse will do or want. Make sure that you known your spouse’s wishes before you choose your Alabama lawyer. If you and your spouse are in agreement, it is fine to hire an uncontested Alabama divorce lawyer. However, if your spouse wants a fight, it is better to know as soon as possible and hire an experienced Alabama contested divorce attorney.
Failing to hire your own Alabama divorce attorney.
It is my opinion that you need a qualified Alabama attorney even if you are only facing an uncontested Alabama divorce. Many people allow their spouse to choose an Alabama lawyer to prepare all the paperwork for their divorce. These people trust their spouse and the spouse’s Alabama family lawyer to be fair, which can often be a huge mistake. Your spouse’s lawyer is not your Alabama divorce lawyer. Your spouse’s attorney has an obligation to your spouse only, not to you. Your spouse’s lawyer will do everything he or she can do to protect your spouse’s interests. That attorney will protect your spouse even if it means that you are signing an unfair divorce settlement. Always get advice from your own Alabama family law attorney. Never sign any divorce paperwork until your Alabama attorney has reviewed it to make sure that it is fair to you.
Hiring the wrong Alabama family law attorney.
It is my opinion that choosing the wrong Alabama lawyer can be one of the worst divorce mistakes, but it CAN be avoided. Your relationship with your Alabama attorney will be one of the most important relationships that you will have during your divorce. Your choice of Alabama family lawyer can significantly affect the outcome of your Alabama divorce. Hiring the right Alabama attorney is important because it can help you avoid making many of the other common divorce mistakes. You and your Alabama attorney must work together as a team. Your Alabama attorney must be qualified for your type of family law case and also be a good fit for your needs and personality. If you cannot communicate well with your family law attorney, it can make obtaining a favorable outcome much more challenging. Your choice of Alabama divorce attorney is quite important. Because many people aren’t sure how to select the right Alabama lawyer, we have devoted a webpage to this issue. For more information, click on the link to 7 Tips on Hiring the Right Alabama Attorney.
Failing to file first.
The spouse who files first in the divorce is the plaintiff. The other spouse is the defendant. Being the plaintiff has certain advantages. This spouse gets to start on the offense and set the initial tone of the divorce. They get the opportunity to go first on most everything. At trial, they get to go first and last. Defendants put on their case in the middle. The Plaintiff has the opportunity to do discovery and depositions, and to ask for temporary custody and support first. The other spouse may only be able to react or respond to the other spouse’s strategy moves. A good Alabama attorney can sometimes force the plaintiff into a defensive position and manage to do some things first. Even then, the plaintiff still gets to present their evidence first at trial and then attack the defendant’s case after the defendant finishes. Going first at trial can be a helpful advantage. Having to go second is an avoidable obstacle to a favorable Alabama divorce outcome. If you know that your spouse is planning to file for divorce, don’t wait. Act immediately and beat your spouse to the courthouse.
Failing to follow your divorce attorney’s advice.
The right Alabama attorney will do everything they can to effectively guide you through your divorce. A good Alabama attorney will answer your questions and explain in detail what you need to know to make good decisions. Make your best effort to hire the right Alabama lawyer for your divorce. Then be open to your attorney’s recommendations. If you trust your Alabama attorney, then you should follow his or her advice. If you do not trust your attorney enough to follow their advice, then you are wasting your money. It is my opinion that if you don’t feel confident in your divorce lawyer, you have the wrong Alabama lawyer and need to make a change. It makes no sense to pay a lawyer for advice that you do not value.
Allowing your divorce lawyer to make decisions for you.
Following your Alabama lawyer’s advice does not mean blindly doing what your divorce lawyer tells you to do. Your Alabama lawyer’s job is to explain your options and guide your decisions, not make them for you. Alabama law and the divorce process can be intimidating to a non-lawyer. Some people are so afraid of making a mistake that they would rather just leave it up to the attorney to decide everything. This is not in your best interests. Whatever the outcome of your Alabama divorce, you are the one who must live with the consequences of the decisions made, not your lawyer. It is YOUR life and the goals should be set by you, not your attorney. It is not your lawyer’s job to decide what your future should look like. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that some Alabama lawyers do not agree with this. Lawyers, like doctors, have a lot of education. Some lawyers develop an overinflated viewpoint of their own intelligence. These Alabama attorneys mistakenly become convinced that their judgment is better than their clients. These Alabama lawyers treat their clients more like children and overstep their role in the divorce. Don’t misunderstand. An Alabama attorney has a duty to tell the client if the client’s goals are unwise. The problem comes when an Alabama lawyer tries to take over and run the case as if it is the lawyer’s divorce. When this happens, the decisions are really made by the family lawyer, not the client. This type of attorney is not the right Alabama divorce lawyer. A good Alabama attorney will educate you well enough that you can make good decisions for yourself. If a client insists on making a bad decision against the lawyer’s advice, that is the client’s right to do. In that case, the lawyer can and should ask the client to sign a document explaining that the attorney advised against the decision and why.
Allowing negative emotions to control the decisions you make leading up to and during the divorce.
This mistake can cause severe problems. Failing to control negative emotions is often the underlying cause of other divorce mistakes.
Some people who are going through a divorce are so angry or hurt that their number one goal is to get even with or hurt their spouse. They want to punish the spouse for the wrongs that they think their spouse has caused. They are so blinded by this goal that they lose focus on what is important and they act out impulsively. They think about the short-term immediate satisfaction of upsetting the spouse. They don’t realize that they are often making themselves look bad to the Court. This can backfire and have the opposition result than what they had intended. If the Court decides that a party’s actions are unfair or immature, that party may get a less favorable outcome in the divorce. The best way to get even is to get the best outcome possible under the facts and circumstances of your case. Your goal should be to have a better future than your spouse. There will often be times that you will annoy, stress or inconvenience your spouse during the divorce. However, you should only do this when it is necessary to achieve a legal goal. Do not do it just for spite. If you make a bad impression on the Court and your spouse wins on every issue that is important to you, then you have just helped your spouse to hurt you again.
Another time that negative emotions can cause mistakes is when people are in pain and rush through their divorce in the hopes of getting closure. This can contribute to a failure to educate themselves, a failure to plan and a failure to be careful in choosing their Alabama lawyer. It can also cause the client to ignore the advice of a qualified Alabama divorce attorney. Both the divorce process and the experience leading up to it are unpleasant. Sometimes the marriage is so bad that the client reaches a breaking point before the divorce is ready for settlement. Even if the parties are living apart, one of the spouses can feel that they will do anything to just put an end the relationship. The client gets to a point that he or she just wants finality and an end to the uncertainty. The client wants to be free to move forward with their life. To carry out this goal, the client will often accept any offer that the spouse makes, even if the offer is unreasonable. The client may even understand that they can do better if they hold out a while longer. They just tell themselves that it is worth anything for the current unhappiness to end. What usually happens though is that they only trade their current stress and unhappiness for a different type of long-term misery. They either don’t think about or convince themselves that they don’t care about the consequences. This usually changes once they start dealing with the new problems that they have created by being impulsive. Unfortunately, once the divorce is final, it is difficult, if not impossible to correct the damage.
Giving in to all of the other spouse’s settlement demands to try to win the other spouse back.
It is often the hardest to represent the spouse who does not want a divorce. When the client hopes to reconcile with their spouse, they sometimes bend over backwards to be nice during the divorce. These people hope that their spouse will realize what a horrible mistake they are making to lose such a nice sweet person. Unfortunately, the other spouse usually realizes this and takes advantage. By giving the client false hope, the other spouse tries to manipulate the first spouse into agreeing to unreasonable settlement demands. If your spouse is really considering reconciling with you, they will go to counseling and agree to dismiss the case. Don’t be in denial. No matter what your spouse promises you, if they continue ahead with the divorce process, they are planning a life without you.
Contact The Burleson Firm
An experienced attorney can help you avoid these common mistakes when dealing with a divorce. From a central location in Birmingham, Alabama, The Burleson Firm has been helping clients with divorce issues throughout the state of Alabama for over 20 years. Let The Burleson Firm schedule a no-obligation conference with a serious Alabama family law attorney to guide you through your divorce.
For a free phone consultation, call us at 1 (205) 795-2033.