If you’re getting divorced or considering divorce in California – or if you’re anticipating that your partner will be seeking a divorce – you should know about the mistakes that people too frequently make during the divorce process.

The most important thing to know about divorce in California is that you must have the advice and representation of a divorce attorney from the very beginning of the divorce process.

No divorce is easy, but a qualified divorce lawyer in Walnut Creek can help you avoid the mistakes discussed here. After reviewing the details in your case, your attorney will be able to provide you with the precise and personalized advice and recommendations you’ll need.

WHAT’S THE COSTLIEST DIVORCE MISTAKE THAT YOU CAN MAKE?

The costliest mistake that people make when divorcing in California is the failure to fully understand all of their legal alternatives and options prior to filing for the divorce.

Don’t take any legal action on your own, and avoid the “do-it-yourself” divorce “kits” offered by some websites. Discuss all of your alternatives with a trustworthy divorce lawyer before you make the final decision to divorce.

For many couples, annulment or separation is genuinely their best option. And if the best option is divorce, you should learn about mediation and arbitration as alternatives to a contentious divorce trial in a courtroom.

Your divorce lawyer will explain your options in detail, recommend the choices you should make, and protect your long-term best interests.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER COMMON DIVORCE MISTAKES?

You can’t ignore the tax consequences of divorce. It’s a mistake that’s made far too routinely. Your taxes are going to be affected, so it’s wise to be prepared.

That’s another reason you’ll need a divorce lawyer – someone who understands the financial and tax aspects of divorce – working on your behalf.

A related financial concern in a California divorce is the division of assets and properties.

The failure to disclose completely all of the details of your finances is a big mistake in a divorce. So is any attempt to hide any of the jointly-owned marital assets.

WHY IS FULL FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE SO IMPERATIVE?

Each partner must be forthright and honest about the finances. It’s imperative. If you aren’t honest regarding the finances, your partner’s lawyer will almost certainly find out.

Under California law, during the divorce process, marital property is to be divided “equitably.” That sounds easy enough, but if the assets are substantial and the divorcing spouses are contentious, determining who gets what can quickly become exceedingly difficult.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN FOR HELP WITH A DIVORCE?

According to divorce attorney Mujdah Rahim, “as soon as you feel your spouse may be considering separation or divorce, take steps to protect yourself. For instance, make copies of all important financial documents.” In addition, you must speak with a divorce lawyer as soon as possible. You must work with a lawyer who will ensure that your best interests and legal rights are protected. You have the right to be treated fairly throughout the entire divorce procedure.

Here’s another mistake that divorcing spouses must avoid – the failure to hear and heed your divorce lawyer’s recommendations and advice after the papers are filed, and the legal process begins.

Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your attorney will carefully explain what you need to know and what you need to do.

IN A DIVORCE, WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT TO CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS?

Most divorcing spouses don’t make these kinds of mistakes. They don’t hide assets or fail to disclose their finances. They don’t ignore their lawyer’s advice. Instead, they make mistakes that are attitudinal and emotional.

Strong emotions are normal during a divorce. Feel free to talk with a counselor. In the courtroom and throughout the divorce negotiations, emotional reactions are a mistake. That’s when you have to be precise, rational, and fully in control.

Possibly you belong to a faith community that can offer counseling and emotional support. Counseling resources – in both the public and private sectors – are abundant in Contra Costa County and throughout the state of California.

WHAT KINDS OF EMOTIONAL RESPONSES ARE BIG MISTAKES?

Drinking more alcohol or taking illegal drugs is never a healthy reaction to a divorce. You’ll hurt yourself. If you’re a parent, you’ll be letting down your kids, and you might end up losing your custody rights.

You cannot lose your temper or express anger or bitterness in a voicemail, email, or any other kind of communication. That’s an absolute rule. If you do, expect to find yourself on the business end of a restraining order.

And if you’re a parent, you must not undermine or slander your children’s other parent in their presence. Negative comments cannot constructively help you or your children.

WHAT DO THE COURTS EXPECT FROM PARENTS WHO DIVORCE?

California divorce courts want divorcing parents to cooperate and put their children first. A huge mistake that parents can make during a divorce is overlooking the needs of their children.

Many spouses separate when they file for a divorce. Understand that during this time and throughout the procedure, almost anything you say or do could be scrutinized by a divorce court.

It will probably be a difficult time for you, but you should try to “be on your best behavior” throughout the process. In fact, you should presume that your spouse’s attorney will be investigating every detail of your finances and behavior – and possibly even surveilling you.

You may want – or need – to refrain from using social media until your divorce is finalized. Anything that you post online could be distorted, and everything that you post will be scrutinized.

AFTER THE DIVORCE, WHAT’S THE BIG MISTAKE YOU NEED TO AVOID?

After a divorce, your future will be at your fingertips, so don’t make the big mistake of torturing yourself and suffering about a past that cannot be changed. Go out and create some new friends and new memories. The future belongs only to those who participate in it.

In other words, don’t make the mistake of being a “divorce victim.” Be resilient and self-reliant.

WHAT IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST DIVORCE MISTAKE YOU CAN MAKE?

An experienced Walnut Creek divorce attorney can help. This cannot be emphasized strongly enough: Not having the advice and guidance of a reputable divorce lawyer – from the start – is probably the biggest divorce mistake that you can make.

Let your divorce lawyer advise you, protect your rights, and ensure that you are treated fairly from the start of the divorce process through its conclusion.

You have the right to a good divorce attorney’s advice and representation. Don’t make the mistake of not exercising that right from the very beginning of a divorce procedure. Your future could depend on it.