While going through a divorce, it is important that one is well aware of his/her situation and what is required of them. However, certain missteps along the way can create hurdles and may impact the court proceedings as well as life after the divorce. Here are six common mistakes during divorce that you can avoid.
Not speaking to your children
It is vital that children are aware that their parents are going through a divorce so that the final conclusion of the divorce proceeding does not take them by surprise. Your child needs to know that you will no longer be uniting with your spouse. Should your children not know that you are legally ending your marriage, it can cause severe impact on their mental health when they find out that they will no longer be living under the same roof with both parents. This is especially critical for children below the age of 21.
Since custody, care and control and access issues will impact the care and living arrangements for the child, it is imperative that the child is well-prepared to the change in the environment following your divorce.
Having little awareness of matrimonial assets
During a divorce, there will be a division of matrimonial assets between you and your spouse.It is important that you are fully aware of all the matrimonial assets that are eligible for division. If you do not educate yourself on what constitutes as matrimonial assets, you can be financially disadvantaged especially if these assets are managed primarily by your spouse.
As you need to be able to support yourself and your children (if any), you must ensure that all matrimonial assets are accounted for before agreeing on any arrangement of the division and that you receive a fair share. If parties are not able to reach an agreement on whether or not an asset is a matrimonial asset to be divided, or if parties cannot agree on the division of the matrimonial assets, then, this issue will have to be adjudicated by the courts.
Both parties have the duty to make full and frank disclosure of their assets and finances during the course of divorce proceedings. If you feel that inadequate information has been provided, you may take out an application for the other party to disclose the relevant information.
Not opting for alternative divorce methods
In Singapore, not all divorce cases lead to litigation. It is always advisable for parties to opt for alternate methods when going through a divorce if you want to avoid the emotional aggravation during a contested divorce. If you and your spouse are willing to discuss and negotiate matters in a more flexible and amicable manner, parties can opt for a collaborative divorce approach – ie. Collaborative Family Practice. It also saves you from spending an exorbitant amount of money on legal fees should both of you go to court.
If the divorce proceeds on a contested route, parties are required to attend mediation if there are children below the age of 21. Court-mandated mediation is a viable option for parties to explore an amicable settlement.
Avoiding court orders
When a court orders you to perform a task, you must carry it out dutifully. Failing to do so can constitute as contempt of court and you may have to pay additional fines, a portion of your spouse’s legal fees or any other sanctions the court deems fit. This will add more acrimony to the divorce proceedings and may cause the affected spouse emotional and financial difficulties after the divorce.
Unless you have a condition in your Deed of Separation that indicates that both parties will live on their own as though they were single and unmarried, committing infidelity can prompt the other party to use adultery as grounds for divorce. The non-adulterous spouse may use this act of infidelity to fight for the care and control of the children.
Do note that couples who have entered into the Deed often use separation as grounds for divorce. Should you have committed adultery, notwithstanding the existence of the Deed, it may become a point of contention for the court to make a formal judgement when concluding the reason for divorce. While the court does not look at the fault of adultery when deciding on ancillary matters, committing such an act may compromise the children’s trust in the adulterous spouse.
Read more: Avoiding Financial Mistakes in Your Divorce