Listening to your spouse's version of the law - it is usually wrong.
Not answering or ignoring legal papers - court judgments can be
made against your interest.
Retaining a lawyer who you are not comfortable with, does not
answer your questions, and does not inform you of conferences and
Not receiving itemized bills from your lawyer and other
professionals - you need to know how your money is being spent.
Sexist or racist behavior towards you by your lawyer, spouse, your
spouse's lawyer, court employees or the judge. There should not be
unwanted physical touching, flirtations, derogatory remarks, or
inferior treatment toward you and your case because of your sex,
race or sexual orientation.
Your lawyer, your spouse and your spouse's lawyer seem
buddy-buddy and you feel left out of the process - remember, you
have a right to switch lawyers at any time.
Using a mediator without obtaining independent counsel,
particularly, if you are the spouse who possesses less income and
assets in the marriage.
Depleting savings to survive and/or observing money or financial
accounts disappearing, large or unusual expenditures on credit card
statements, new loans and debts, and changed beneficiaries on
insurance and pension plans.
Waiting too long to obtain temporary emergency relief for
maintenance (alimony), child support, an order of protection, an
order prohibiting your spouse from transferring assets or changing
beneficiaries on insurance or pension plans and/or attorney fees.
Settling for too little because you have low self-esteem or
continuing unnecessary litigation and negotiations solely because you
are angry or unwilling to let go emotionally.
Transferring your anger from your spouse to your children, lawyer,
family members or friends without justification.
Using your children as messengers or pawns against your spouse -
this is very destructive to your children's well-being.
Agreeing to joint custody when you will be the primary caretaker of
the children and you and your spouse do not agree on significant
issues affecting the children's lives. This is particularly true if it
means that you will be obtaining less child support by entering into a
joint custody agreement.
Consenting to an agreement that prohibits you from relocating with
Signing a temporary agreement that is not fair and equitable
because you think that you can always obtain a better deal in the final
settlement - temporary agreements usually set a precedent for the
Signing agreements under pressure, without proper thought and
without discussing it with one or two people who care about you.
Any signed agreement is very difficult to reopen, so be sure you can
live with it and that it is fair and equitable.
Thinking that a separation agreement does not represent a complete
division of the property and that you will have an opportunity to
further negotiate at the time of the divorce. A separation agreement
should be fully negotiated as if it was a divorce.
Dividing the assets without full disclosure of such property. All
assets and debts must be identified, classified as marital or separate
property, evaluated to determine their worth and tax impacted before
negotiations can commence. The tax consequences of the entire
agreement be determined before an agreement can be reached.
Not having sufficient documentation to prove cash businesses and
off-the-books income. An accountant or investigator may be needed.
Not including your spouse's business deductions as imputed
income if your spouse derives personal benefits from such items.
Not providing for life and if possible for disability insurance to
cover the financial obligations of the disagreement in case your
spouse dies or becomes incapacitated.
Not having a clause in the final agreement that protects you and
your children in case your spouse declares bankruptcy.
Omitting a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) from the
final court papers. Most divorce cases where a pension exists should
have a QDRO instructing the pension administrator what to do with
Omitting enforcement and penalty provisions in the final agreement
in case your spouse violates his or her obligations. Attorney fees,
income executions, fines, liens, bonds, appointment of a receiver or
other forms of security may be utilized.
Continuing litigation or extensive negotiations without doing a
cost/benefit analysis. Analyze whether it is worth continuing the
process, financially and emotionally, instead of settling.
Not following up with your lawyer about all the documents and
filings that need to exist to close the matter properly and to ensure
that you legally obtain what you are entitled to.
In order to qualify for a New York uncontested, "no-fault" divorce, both parties must agree to the divorce, division of all marital assets, debts, property, custody of the minor children, support for the minor children and spousal maintenance. In an uncontested divorce, the defendant can be served but if he or she does not answer the complaint in divorce then the plaintiff can seek a default judgment in divorce. The defendant can also waive his or her right to answer the complaint.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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