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Do’s and Do-Not’s During Your New Jersey Divorce

Do's and Don'ts on two sticky notes  on weathered whitewash textured wood

Divorces can be complicated at the best of times. If you are going through a divorce, the last thing you want to do is add additional legal or financial hardships or otherwise weaken your position on the division of property, alimony, child custody, or any other related matter. Read on for advice on how to strengthen your divorce case and pitfalls to avoid, and contact an experienced New Jersey divorce attorney with any questions or for help with a New Jersey family law matter.

Things to Do

There are a lot of things to do when going through a divorce, and your family law attorney will help guide you through the process. Here are just a few of the important things to keep in mind:

Mind your finances. Divorces can be expensive. Keep track of your finances, and avoid making huge expenditures. If your ex used to be responsible for the finances, it is time for you to step up and take charge, which may involve a steep learning curve. Your attorney and others in your corner, such as your accountant, can help.

Remember to file your taxes. During the divorce process, you may not be sure whether to file as single or married. Typically, you and your spouse will have to jointly determine how to file, because if you file as single and your spouse files as married, the IRS will not be happy. Ask your attorney for advice, and let them discuss the issue with your spouse’s attorney to make sure no one creates needless legal troubles.

Get your own lawyer. Even if your divorce is not contentious, it is vital that you get your own attorney. A lawyer cannot represent both sides of the divorce in good faith because there will inevitably be issues where one side could be favored over the other. Your lawyer will help determine the proper division of assets, establish custody arrangements, figure out what each spouse owes, etc. The process works best when each party has their own professional, protecting their client’s interests while keeping the process as smooth as possible. Having a lawyer in your corner will help keep things civil and easy, where possible, and will defend your rights where necessary.

Cooperate during mediation. You may be tempted to fight tooth-and-nail from the get-go in your divorce. That mentality leads to more complications, a longer divorce process and, ultimately, more money out of your pocket. You will save time, money, and emotional energy if you and your spouse can resolve the matter through mediation rather than in court. Approach the process with as open a mind as possible. Your attorney will work with you to ensure that you do not give away any asset or issue that matters to you. Your attorney is a professional, and you are a team. Resolving things quickly and amicably where possible is in your best interest.

Things to Avoid

When going through a divorce, the list of harmful mistakes to avoid is much longer than the list of positive steps to take. Generally, your goal is to behave responsibly and civilly, despite the highly-charged emotions often associated with divorce. Avoid doing anything that would make you less sympathetic to a judge or mediator. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:

Don’t trash-talk your ex on social media. As people start learning about your divorce, you may feel compelled to get your side of the story out there in order to present yourself in the best light. Unfortunately, anything you say in a public forum such as Facebook can and will be used against you in a contentious divorce proceeding. It is almost always better to say nothing.

Don’t harass or stalk your ex. Avoid sending angry emails or text messages to your ex, regardless of how angry you may feel. Do not call them, do not show up at their work or their house unless there is a specific reason for doing so that is mutually agreed upon in advance (such as exchanging custody of children or picking up personal effects). Let your attorneys do the communicating for you.

Don’t drain your bank account. You may be tempted to take money out of joint or known accounts and secure it away somewhere else or spend it out of spite. Disregard that temptation: You will be forced to account for any marital assets you hide or squander during the divorce.

Don’t flaunt your new relationship to your ex. Couples often separate for months or years before finalizing a divorce, leaving ample time to start a new relationship. That is OK, and a new relationship will not necessarily harm your ongoing divorce. Nearly anything you might do out of spite, however, will harm your case. Aggressively posting on social media about a new relationship or sending messages or pictures to your ex will only give them ammunition to use against you in negotiations or in court.

Don’t get pregnant or impregnate others. This may seem obvious, but getting pregnant in the middle of a divorce can seriously complicate matters. If a woman becomes pregnant before the divorce is finalized, her husband may be the presumed father, creating additional legal complications for all parties involved. The new child might trigger questions regarding custody, child support, etc. These are not issues you want to add to the pile during a divorce proceeding.

Contact a New Jersey Family Law Attorney

If you’re in need of compassionate, experienced, and talented legal help with a divorce or other family law matter in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.

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