While no one can ever “win” at divorce, you can certainly lose by making tactical divorce mistakes that will adversely affect child custody, child support, alimony, and division of your marital property. Fortunately, you can avoid making tactical divorce mistakes by making better decisions – starting now.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce or you are already involved in a divorce, it’s not too late to avoid losing your divorce. You have already made a good start by trying to learn more about South Carolina divorce law. After you finish reading this article, call me. I will be glad to share with you specific steps that you can take now to achieve a better outcome in your divorce in Charleston, Moncks Corner, or Summerville.
Here are seven general suggestions to help you avoid common tactical mistakes in your South Carolina divorce.
1. DO NOT VOLUNTARILY MOVE OUT OF YOUR HOME.
Many men and some women incorrectly think that they must move out of their home before they can file for a South Carolina divorce. Making this tactical mistake can adversely impact the entire course of your divorce. Many family law judges perceive that you are abandoning your children, your home, and much of your personal property when you move out. Consequently, if you voluntarily move out of your home, you will probably lose time with your children in the short term and you may lose custody of them permanently. In addition, you may lose your home and its furnishings.
If you live in Goose Creek or West Ashley, you should not automatically assume that you must move out of the family home to start your divorce case. Likewise, if you reside on the Isle of Palms or James Island, do not jump to the conclusion that you have to leave just because your husband or wife has filed for divorce. Working with a skilled Mt. Pleasant family law attorney, you can make shrewd tactical decisions, which will allow you to stay in your home and still go forward with your divorce.
2. CONSULT WITH A MT. PLEASANT FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY.
South Carolina family law is complex. It is not a place for amateurs to get “on the job training.” If you are trying to do your divorce yourself, I have one word of advice: Don’t!
A bad divorce outcome can become the “gift that keeps on giving.” You could lose your children, your home, your business, and your economic future by the time that you complete your divorce in Berkeley County, Charleston County, or Dorchester County. The likelihood of you losing in your divorce will increase dramatically if you do it yourself.
Do not make the tactical mistake of assuming that the divorce lawyer for your husband or wife can do everything for your spouse and you. The job of the divorce lawyer for your husband or wife is to get the best possible outcome for your (soon to be “ex”) spouse at your expense.
Before you do anything, you should contact a Mount Pleasant family law attorney, who can outline what your legal options and potential costs may be. Do not assume that you cannot afford a family law attorney or that hiring a divorce lawyer is a waste of money. You may be surprised at the wide range of payment options. After consulting with that divorce attorney, you will be better informed, even if you cannot afford to hire the attorney to represent you in your divorce or child custody proceeding.
3. INCREASE YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH YOUR CHILDREN.
It takes a lot of time and emotional energy to get divorced. It can be exhausting. You may find yourself struggling just get to work and back, your bills may be mounting, and it may be difficult to see an end in sight.
In the midst of this divorce turmoil, you run the significant risk of committing the tactical mistake of neglecting your children. Don’t become so preoccupied with your divorce that you forget to be the parent that you want to be.
Here are some ideas that may help you live through your divorce and grow your relationship with your children in the process.
– Develop a calendar in which you block out time just to do kid things. It can be as simple as 15 minutes each night to read with your child or as involved as a “kid date” every Saturday morning.
– Focus your conversations with your child on topics of interest to your child. The best things, which you can do for them, are to assure them that their feelings are important and that you love them unconditionally. You can do that effectively by listening to them.
– Never ever discuss your divorce with your child. Doing so will not help your child and it may backfire in your custody evaluation.
– Maintain a diary with photographs of fun times and simple interactions with your child. When you are struggling with the divorce process, reviewing the diary can give you additional energy. You can also use the diary effectively to present yourself in the best light as part of your child custody evaluation and subsequent divorce trial.
4. BE THE FIRST TO FILE FOR DIVORCE.
The right time for you to get divorced is when you decide “it is time.” If you have reached that point in your marriage, you should contact an experienced Charleston County divorce lawyer and file for divorce.
You will unnecessarily prolong the divorce process and make a tactical mistake by waiting for your husband or wife to file first for divorce. Instead of reacting, you want to initiate and assume a proactive role. In various situations, particularly at any child custody hearing or at your divorce trial, you will enjoy a significant tactical advantage by being the plaintiff and getting to tell your story first to the family law judge.
5. ALWAYS BE OPEN TO DIVORCE SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS.
You will save a lot of money and emotional energy if you do not make the tactical mistake of refusing to engage in settlement negotiations. It is best to settle as many disputes as you can outside of court.
There are many ways that you may be able to negotiate a fair divorce settlement. You may be able to resolve some issues (such as who gets which car) through direct divorce settlement negotiations with your spouse. In contrast, complex property division and child custody disputes may require a divorce settlement conference with a mediator.
Regardless of the process that you follow, you should utilize the services of an experienced Mt. Pleasant family law attorney to guide your divorce settlement discussions. A good divorce lawyer can advise you on South Carolina divorce law and assist your understanding of the potential significance of any settlement proposal regarding child custody, child support, child visitation, alimony, tax issues, or division of your marital property and debts. Your divorce attorney can also prepare all settlement documents in a way that protects your best interests.
6. DO NOT SETTLE JUST TO “GET IT OVER”.
You may be frustrated on many occasions by South Carolina divorce procedures and how long it takes to get divorced. One former client characterized the South Carolina process as the “hurry up and wait” divorce system. In addition, your spouse may be doing everything possible to anger and exhaust you. You may also be concerned that the divorce costs are becoming far too expensive.
At that point, some people throw up their hands and decide to do whatever they have to do to end their divorce proceedings. They express their willingness to accept any settlement just to “get it over.” This tactical mistake, which is also often called “quitting,” can have horrible consequences for you and your children.
Rushing into a divorce settlement can produce financial and relationship consequences that will burden you for the remainder of your life. As difficult as it may be to work slowly and patiently through the divorce process, you and your children will likely have a much better life if you endure just a little bit longer to get the best possible divorce settlement.
7. HIRE THE RIGHT DIVORCE LAWYER.
Many people take longer picking out a new cell phone or a pair of athletic shoes than they do choosing their divorce lawyer. Some of them get lucky. For others, it becomes the biggest tactical mistake of their divorce, if not their life.
In choosing your divorce lawyer, you should thoughtfully research the market. Don’t choose your divorce attorney just because your friend “heard something good about her” or because the divorce lawyer is a “Gamecock” fan or a “Tiger” fan.
Here are the qualities that you should be seeking in your divorce lawyer:
– Does the lawyer display on his or her website that the lawyer has mastered the legal and practical points of family law?
– Is the lawyer willing to be interviewed by you at no charge?
– Does the lawyer appear to be a person who cares about you and your children?
– Does the lawyer have good communication skills – will he or she listen to you?
– Is the lawyer willing to discuss with you how much how much your divorce might cost?
– Is the lawyer focused on finding solutions and helping you build a better life for you and your children?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you need to continue your search for the right divorce lawyer to represent you in this most important transition in your life.
By reading this far, you have demonstrated that you are being thorough in choosing your divorce lawyer. For more than 30 years, I have been helping people, just like you, successfully pass through some of their most challenging moments and build a better life after divorce.
I have experience you can trust in avoiding these and other tactical mistakes in your South Carolina divorce. I welcome the opportunity to listen to your concerns and discuss how I may be able to help you. Please call me now. I am pleased to represent clients throughout the Low Country, including those who live in Charleston, Goose Creek, Isle of Palms, Johns Island, Moncks Corner, Mount Pleasant, North Charleston, Sullivan’s Island, and Summerville.