March 26, 2014

Mistakes to Avoid in a Florida Divorce Case

Mistakes to avoid in a Florida Divorce

Whether you are representing yourself (as a pro se litigant) or you are represented by an experienced divorce attorney, people involved in family law cases often experience emotional turmoil, frustration, aggravation, and anger. Because they have little or no experience with the legal system, they often are overwhelmed by seemingly complicated and thorny legal questions. Loriann Hoff Oberlin in her book Surviving Separation and Divorce talks about the mistake of assuming the divorce process will be fair and cooperative. 

During a divorce, people are experiencing an extreme emotional loss and, consequently, are emotionally vulnerable and upset. Oftentimes, they are in a state of denial about their circumstances and about their spouse. All too often, experienced Florida divorce lawyers from Jupiter to Wellington hear: "My spouse never would treat me this way"; however, much to their discomfort, dismay and chagrin, spouses do mistreat their soon-to-be ex's. Consequently, when you are involved in a divorce case, you should look out for "Number 1″ and expect your spouse to do the same.

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Once you are involved in a divorce case or a family law case, you're part of an adversarial system. Ms. Oberlin advises that all participants in a divorce should adopt an attitude of cautious pessimism, lower expectations and to expect the worse and then be surprised if it turns out better. Surviving Separation and Divorce outlines some of the basic legal errors or mistakes that individuals make in their divorce cases. They include: 

  1. Having totally unrealistic expectation/demands of what you want from the divorce. People in divorce cases face a wide assortment of seemingly overwhelming issues including, but not limited to: finances, children, dividing family businesses, retirement accounts and other issues in dispute. People have to concentrate on prioritizing their goals and setting realistic expectations. Focus on problem solving and do everything you can on your own case;
  2. Not asking appropriate questions or signing documents without asking questions. Many people are intimidated by the divorce case, the courts, judges and the adversarial system in general. Consequently, they often feel intimidated by their lawyers and their spouses and, instead of asking questions, accept everything on blind faith. Oberlin advises you should ask questions about every document in your case as if you were buying a new car. In addition, you should ask to review all documents including pleadings and marital settlement agreements before they leave your attorney's office. Attorneys, like other people, make mistakes. Once something is entered in the record or a judge's memory, it may be too late to correct it;
  3. Withholding information from your attorney. Some people don't trust their lawyers. Some people are overly concerned about maintaining control over the chaotic circumstances of the divorce case. Some people try to look good. Some people are trying to fool their attorneys and the court system. However, by doing so, most of them lose control, fool themselves and injure their cases. Oberlin's advice is: "If you want your attorney to do an effective job, you have to give your attorney complete and accurate information. If you fail to do so, your attorney, based on your incomplete information, may implement a strategy that is actually more harmful to you rather than helpful to you. In addition, if you're withholding damaging information, it inevitably will be revealed at the time most damaging to your case";
  4. Expecting the legal system to be fair and that the court will see things from your perspective. No matter how much you think you are right; no matter how much you think that justice is on your side; and no matter how much you think that anyone can see the case from your perspective, the judge often can see issues from another viewpoint and may not agree with you. In addition, because of the statutes, procedural rules and evidentiary rules, judges must often rule on limited and not total information. Consequently, don't expect that your view of the case, no matter how noble and just, will be the one that wins. The court will not always rule in your favor. The better you can become at problem solving, then the more likely you will be to obtain a positive outcome;
  5. Allowing emotions rather than logic to rule your decision making. Many people going through a divorce are emotionally distraught, upset, angry, and are experiencing an extreme loss from the demise of their relationship. Unfortunately, decisions and actions based on emotions rather than tactical, strategic or logical thinking, most likely will backfire and injure your case. Oberlin advises that: "People should become reflective rather than reactive." Make sure that you think carefully about what you say or do during any divorce case. When in doubt confer with your attorney; and
  6. Forgetting tax ramifications of legal decisions and not hiring a financial advisor. Divorce proceedings will involve the division of assets, properties, estates, retirement monies and, sometimes, the receipt of spousal support. All of these actions in a divorce case may have tax implications for you. Oberlin advises that you have a trusted financial advisor counsel you on the tax consequences of your decisions if you settle a case or the rulings a judge may make in the event that you have to litigate your divorce case. Don't always depend upon your attorney to know the tax consequences of the results of your settlement agreement or divorce judgment.

Oberlin's book provides useful information for individuals who are contemplating or involved in a divorce case. However, if you do not have the opportunity to read Ms. Oberlin's book then you should consult and follow the advice of your West Palm Beach, Board Certified, experienced family law attorney. However, if you wish to learn more about Ms. Oberlin's book, click here.


Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss divorce in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A.The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.


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