THINKING OF SEPARATING? THE MISTAKES TO AVOID
If you are thinking of separating or are in the process of separating, you will know that it is a difficult time of your life. You have so many questions and so many decisions to make. Most people are not familiar with the legal process of separation, and many friends will offer advice. They probably have the best intentions, but each situation is unique, and your separation will not be the same as your friend’s. Think carefully before blindly accepting advice from well-meaning friends. A mistake early on in the process can cost you dearly.
Family lawyers with experience in this field warn against some common mistakes that people make during separation. In this article, we will discuss seven of these common mistakes and give you some quick tips on how to avoid these mistakes.
Beware of these mistakes
1. Rushing to mediation
Many people think that you are legally required to go to mediation. This is not true. You should get legal advice first before you go to a Family Relationship Centre. First, find out what your legal rights and obligations are. Only then can you effectively resolve the issues and get what you are entitled to.
2. Refusing to speak to a counsellor
Speaking to a counsellor is your decision, and you don’t have to, but there are many benefits in speaking with a counsellor. Separation is a confusing time and you might not know where to start. Looking after yourself and your emotional well-being is very important.
3. Thinking that domestic violence has to involve physical violence
You don’t have to be physically abused to be a victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence includes being harassed or intimidated. If your spouse threatens or tries to intimidate you, discuss it with your family lawyer. Your spouse’s conduct might fall under the wider definition of domestic violence.
4. Not documenting your property settlement agreement
It is important to keep track of all your assets that should form part of your property settlement. Once you reach an agreement, draw up a document setting out the terms of your agreement. If the situation between you and your partner changes at a later stage, it is important to have evidence in the form of a legally binding document of what you agreed on.
5. Not keeping notes or records after your separation
Making notes of discussions and agreements can be very useful in future disputes. It is very helpful if you keep notes and records of financial arrangements and interim expenses. Keep a diary or make notes of agreements regarding the children’s arrangements as well. Keep notes of children’s comments and conversation between you and your ex-spouse. You never know when you need to fall back on these notes to prove your case in court proceedings. Not keeping notes can be a costly mistake, both financially and emotionally.
6. Failing to plan
“Failing to plan, is planning to fail”. Having a plan and being prepared will minimize your stress. You will know what to expect, be prepared for the process and maximize your outcome. Planning will give you more control over your situation.
7. Not speaking to a specialist Family lawyer
It is important that you understand the legal process and the law regarding separation. This should be done as soon as possible. Not speaking to a specialist lawyer means that you will not be fully aware of your rights and obligations. Knowledge is power. You can only plan your strategy when you have accurate information and understand the process.
Now that you are aware of these common mistakes, you can take the necessary steps to avoid them. Speak to a family lawyer, be prepared and have a plan. Keep notes and don’t forget to look after your own well-being.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.