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5 Common Mistakes Made at the Start of a Divorce

Over 689,000 divorces were filed in the United States in 2021 alone. In fact, it is estimated that as many as four of every ten first-time marriages will end with divorce. All states recognize no-fault divorce in which two spouses can end their marriage based solely on a finding of irreconcilability, including North Dakota. 

Getting a no-fault divorce decree may be straightforward, but the divorce process itself is anything but. For individuals who have never been through a divorce before, the likelihood of making a costly mistake is especially high. 

These errors can impact your legal rights, prolong your divorce, and affect your circumstances after divorce as well. If you are facing divorce in North Dakota, it is vital to understand what these errors are and how you can avoid them.

Avoid These 5 Mistakes After Filing for Divorce

After you file for divorce, there are five common mistakes you will want to avoid as the process begins:

1. Moving Out of the Marital Home

If you have decided your marriage is over, creating a clean break by moving out before you file for divorce may seem like a good idea emotionally. However, moving out when you have children with your spouse can hamper your ability to gain primary custody over those children later in North Dakota.

A court makes all custody decisions based on what it believes to be the child’s best interests. Courts rarely view moves to be in children’s best interests unless it is necessary to protect their physical safety. 

This means that moving out of the marital home at the start of your divorce may make it more difficult to convince a court to award you primary custody of your children.

2. Draining the Bank Accounts

Whether you feel a sense of entitlement to your joint bank accounts or need the money to start afresh, depleting your resources without a court order can have negative consequences later. 

Courts may consider the money or other property you took at the outset of your divorce when it comes time to divide the marital assets. So, draining your bank accounts could leave you with less marital property than you would otherwise receive.

This is not to suggest you cannot take or use property that is yours, such as gifts or loans from family members. Moreover, if you need to take money or other property to escape an abusive situation, a court would look at this differently than if you simply took your spouse’s bank card to get even with them.

3. Running Up Significant Debt

Because marital debt is typically divided between the spouses in a divorce, you may view the outset of a divorce as the ideal time to take on new debt. However, you should refrain from running up your credit cards or taking on significant new debt without first speaking to an attorney.

Like marital assets, debts incurred during marriage are generally split fairly and equitably. However, a court may view your actions as an attempt to game the system and can choose to make you responsible for the full amount of the debt you incur in the period just before and after filing for divorce.

4. Not Getting Agreements in Writing

If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, you may discuss the issues that will need to be resolved as part of your divorce among yourselves. There is no reason you cannot do this if you feel comfortable doing so. However, you should put any agreement you reach with your spouse in writing, and you both should sign it.

Even if you and your spouse begin the divorce process cordially, your case may become heated and contested. Having a signed written document with the terms of your custody agreement, property division agreement, or other arrangements will make it easier to prove the terms of the arrangement in court.

5. Delaying in Hiring an Attorney

If you have children, own a business or other high-value asset, or are seeking alimony, having an attorney involved in your case at the outset can help ensure your rights are protected throughout the divorce process. 

Hiring an attorney later means that your lawyer will need additional time to become familiar with the case and the orders already entered, which can delay the resolution of your case.

Turn to a Seasoned North Dakota Divorce Lawyer Today

Whether you are considering divorce or have already begun the process, it is essential to partner with an experienced and knowledgeable divorce attorney. At Heartland Law Office, PC, our skilled team can review your case and determine your best options. We work to solve your legal issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Protect your future today, and contact us to schedule your consultation.