Top 8 Most Common Divorce Mistakes

Many people make mistakes when they’re getting divorced. Here are some of the most common divorce mistakes to avoid.

Divorce doesn’t come with an instruction manual. And it can sometimes feel as though there’s always something around the corner waiting to trip you up.

But knowing some of the common problems people run into can help you to avoid making the same mistakes.

These are the top eight most common divorce mistakes to watch out for.

#1 Not getting a financial order

Not getting a financial order is one of the costliest divorce mistake you can make.

An important thing to understand about the divorce process is that the divorce finances are dealt with separately to the divorce itself. This means that you can be legally divorced while still having financial obligations to your ex-spouse.

Without having a financial order in place, your former spouse could make a financial claim against your estate at any time.

There are examples of former spouses successfully claiming millions of pounds, even years after the divorce.

If you’ve reached a financial agreement with your ex, you need to draw it up in a financial order to make it legally binding.  

#2 Not understanding your financial situation

Divorce almost always affects your finances, and usually for the worst.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t get divorced because of the financial consequences. After all, freedom is priceless! But you need to be clear-eyed about how your financial situation will change.

First and foremost, you need to get as much money as possible in the financial settlement to help you set up your new life. So, when you’re negotiating with your ex, you need to have a good understanding of how much the various assets are worth, from the marital home to pensions.

This will help stop you from agreeing to an unequal distribution of assets that damages your ability to start a new life.

#3 Remarrying before sorting out the finances

One of the obvious benefits of divorce is that it allows you to get married to someone else that’s more to your liking.

However, you need to be careful not to get married again too soon – doing so can complicate any unresolved divorce issues.

Getting remarried before sorting out the divorce finances can be disastrous.

When you remarry without making a financial order, you may lose the right to apply for one. This means that you won’t be able to claim any of the assets that you were entitled to from your ex-spouse. So, you’ll potentially be left with nothing while your ex goes laughing all the way to the bank.

Sort out the financial settlement as soon as possible and wait until the ownership of assets has been transferred and the money is in your bank account before walking down the aisle again.

#4 Offsetting assets against child maintenance payments

Another divorce mistake people make is agreeing to offset the value of assets against child maintenance payments in the hope of achieving a “clean break”.

For example, you might be tempted to offer your ex a larger share of the marital assets in return for a promise that they won’t claim child maintenance payments. Then you can apply for a clean break order, safe in the knowledge that your ex can’t make any future financial claims against you.

But this is a terrible idea.

It’s important to stress that there’s no such thing as a clean break when there are children involved.

Even if you made a clean break order, your ex-spouse could claim child maintenance payments from you at any time, which you would HAVE to pay. However, you wouldn’t be able to renegotiate the terms of the clean break order to get the share of the assets that you gave up back.

In this situation, you would end up with less than your fair share of the marital assets while still having to pay child maintenance.

So don’t accept any asset offsetting in return for a promise from your spouse that they won’t claim child maintenance. It could easily come back to bite you and leave you out of pocket.

#5 Blaming the divorce on your ex in front of your children  

Divorce is always painful.

Maybe you didn’t want to get divorced, or maybe your ex was unfaithful.

Whatever happened, your feelings towards your ex are going to be mixed at best. But you should avoid the urge to blame your ex for the divorce in front of your children.

Of course, you’ll have to give some explanation as to why you’re breaking up and why their lives are changing. But the “truth” is less important here than reassuring your children that both of their parents love them and will continue to care for them.

When you talk about the divorce with your children, think of it as giving them The Ladybird Version – a rough outline that ignores all the emotional complexities. Divorce is an adult problem that children can’t really understand. They don’t need to know all the ins and outs.

Remember that while you and your ex may not love each other anymore, you’re both still your children’s parents. So, you shouldn’t say anything about your ex that could damage their reputation in your children’s eyes.

#6 Taking legal advice from family and friends

Unless you have the good fortune to count a family solicitor among your family and friends, you shouldn’t take legal advice from them.

While family and friends can provide invaluable emotional support, they’re not qualified to give you legal advice.

This is true even if they’ve been through a divorce themselves. Maybe even more so.

For example, your friend might tell you about legal actions she took that worked for her and encourages you to do the same. But each divorce is unique. And what may have happened with them may not happen to you.

Before you take any legal action, you should talk to an experienced family solicitor first.

#7 Believing the court will agree with your point of view

When you’ve been treated unfairly by your ex, it can be easy to assume that the court will agree with your point of view. So, you might be tempted to apply to court to resolve any disputes, be that the financial settlement or child arrangements.

But let’s be clear: the Court doesn’t care about your feelings.

Going to court should be a last resort. When you ask the Court to decide something, you take the decision out of your hands. And it may not go your way.

Before making any court applications, you should try alternative dispute resolutions like mediation and arbitration. They will save you time and money, as well as give you more control over the eventual outcome.

#8 Not taking any legal advice

Just because you can do something, it doesn’t mean that you should.

The same is true when you’re getting divorced.

While you can get divorced without a solicitor, you’re better off having at least some legal advice.

The help of a solicitor is particularly important when it comes to dealing with the financial settlement and child arrangements. Both are complex areas of law where any mistakes could be costly.

A family solicitor will set realistic expectations and help to get you the best possible outcome.

The Law Superstore connects you with family solicitors across England and Wales.