- Not being prepared to talk to your attorney or paralegal.
You obviously need to communicate with your legal team. However, the more times you talk to them, the more time of theirs it takes, and the more it costs you. You can save a lot of time and money if you accumulate your questions and are fully prepared for every phone call and meeting with your legal team.
- Not sharing essential information with your attorney.
Your legal team can take bad news all day. They understand that, if all the facts were on your side, you might not need them. However, surprises are almost always a disaster. Tell your lawyer and your legal team everything. If there are bad facts, your legal team needs to know about them as far in advance as possible so that they can determine how to handle and explain them.
- Saying too much on Facebook and other social media.
Once you are involved in a family law action, everything you do and say becomes evidence. This includes everything you put on Facebook or other social media. Many people assume that, since the other side was not “friended,” he or she will never know about what you say or do. This is a bad assumption. Do not write e-mails, send texts, or put anything on any social media that you do not want to be cross-examined about in court.
4. Getting too much advice from friends and family.
Your friends and family are generally well intended and want to support you. As part of that well intended support, they tend to tell you what you want to hear and, in the process, give you lousy legal advice. Your lawyer has a different role and function. Your lawyer and the other members of your legal team have the job of telling you what you need to hear and what you must know in order to make informed decisions regarding your legal matter.
- Saying unkind things about the other parent in front of your children.
Long term, little is gained and great harm is often done when one parent tells the children unkind things about the other parent. Children realize they are the product of two parents, and they understandably feel that an attack on either parent is an attack on them. If the other parent is a monster, they do not need to hear that from you. They need to figure it out for themselves and know that you had the good judgment and enough class not to tell them or to involve them in your divorce.
- Using children as messengers between you and your former spouse.
Children generally do not want to be involved in their parents’ divorce, and they should have an absolute right not to be involved. For any number of good reasons, children should not be used as messengers between their parents.
- Failing to seek help from a mental health professional.
Going through a marital dissolution is the most psychologically difficult thing most people will ever experience. There is no reason to make the experience more unpleasant or more difficult than it already is, and there is no reason to go through it alone. Spouses who seek the help of a counselor or mental health professional during this process generally have an easier time and tend to make better decisions than those who fail to seek such help.
- Being concerned because your attorney and opposing counsel appear to be friends.
If both you and your spouse have picked experienced family law attorneys to represent you, your attorneys have probably known each other for years and may even be friends. Hopefully, this means they have a good working relationship and will be able to resolve matters without unnecessary court time that could cost you thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees. In other words, it is generally a good thing. The fact that your attorney knows or is a friend of the other attorney does not mean he or she is not doing his or her job or that he or she is going to give the other side a better deal than he or she would have otherwise obtained.
- Rejecting an offer simply because the other side made it.
Be careful not to become reactive and reject suggestions simply because the other side made them. You have a right to be suspicious, to feel betrayed, and to be angry. You do not, however, have the right to make stupid decisions. Each decision needs to be carefully thought out and judged on its own merits. The quality of the rest of your life may depend on this.
- Feeling uneasy because the attorneys went back into the judge’s chambers where your matter appeared to be decided behind closed doors without your having an opportunity to talk to the judge.
Many clients feel uncomfortable when, at the invitation of the judge, the lawyers go back to the judge’s chambers, discuss the case, and come out and tell their clients about a proposed settlement that appears to have been worked out as part of some kind of back room deal. While the client’s uncomfortableness with this process is understandable, chambers conferences are an invaluable tool to your lawyer and, even though you do not get to see him or her in action, it is often where your lawyer does his or her best work. It is here where your lawyer often learns about the positions the other side will be taking, the evidence on which the other side will be relying, and, most importantly, whose arguments the judge is buying and the direction the judge is leaning. You and your lawyer need the information that can only be gained from a chambers conference.