Common Mistakes People Make During Divorce

Common Mistakes People Make During DivorceWe all make mistakes, especially when we’re stressed and feeling emotional. Few things are more stressful or more emotional than divorce, but that’s also when it’s most important to refrain from making any mistakes.

When litigating and/or settling divorce, it’s nothing less than our lives at stake. In addition to financial assets and alimony, any marriage with children will also have to deal with dividing decision-making duties and parenting time schedules. These are all things no one can afford to lose, so if you’re getting divorced, make sure you’re not making these common mistakes:

Not listening to the experts.

We’ve already talked about why it’s important to hire a divorce attorney rather than trying it DIY, but it’s equally important to listen to the attorney you’ve hired. They’re the expert and they’re able to look at the situation without all the emotional baggage you’re bringing to the divorce. You don’t have to take their advice if you don’t feel like it’s really what you want, but if your attorney is strongly advising you to do (or avoid) something, you need to take that under serious consideration.

Taking advice from people other than your attorney.

Just as important as taking advice from your attorney is not taking advice from people other than your attorney. When getting divorced, everyone will be full of advice, and it may be tempting to take advice from everyone from your best friend to your pharmacist. Even though they may have the best of intentions, they won’t necessarily know what’s best for you.  Even if you trust their opinion or believe they have all the facts because they went through a divorce or custody battle in the past, understand that they don’t have all the facts. Every divorce is different and more than likely, the Judge handling your case now did not hear your friends’ case. Outcomes in divorce vary greatly depending on the Judge you have, and it is your attorney’s job to advise you on how the Judge on your case may rule.   Also, as we posted previously, the laws changed significantly in Illinois in 2015, 2016 and 2017 via separate amendments to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. So, all of these changes mean your divorce will be handled much differently than those heard by the Court even just a year ago.

Fighting over the children.

In many divorces, each party just wants to hurt the other, and few things hurt worse than denying someone access to their children. But it’s important to set aside your hurt feelings and pride and consider what’s really best for the children. If the other party wants to spend time with their children and they’re not putting them in any danger by doing so, the Court will insist that you allow them to have time with their children. Denying time or the ability to participate in a co-parenting relationship usually backfires on the parent withholding the children. Finally, your relationship will benefit from it in the long run and your children will benefit from having both parents remain active and present in their lives.

Continuing to litigate a case when settling would make more sense.

There are many reasons people choose to continue to litigate a case rather than settle. Sometimes people think they can get more money out of their spouse if they have their “day in Court.” Other times they just want to get revenge on their spouse, and they decide to do that by dragging out the matter as long as possible.

But in many cases, you can get more money by settling the case as soon as possible and saving yourself the additional legal fees involved in continuing to litigate. And while you may want revenge for the pain your spouse inflicted on you, choosing to drag out the litigation, rather than settling and getting it over with, can do as much damage to you (both emotionally and financially) as to the other party. There’s no point in taking the time and energy to hurt someone else if you hurt yourself in the process. A knowledgeable and experienced attorney can advise you when it is worthwhile to litigate the case than to settle.

These and many other mistakes can be made when you allow yourself to be carried away by the harrowing emotions that can come along with divorce. Instead of focusing on the negative feelings you’re experiencing right now, try to consider the kind of relationship you want with your ex-spouse and your children later on down the road. Let that foresight (and your attorney) be your guide in how you handle your divorce.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases, as well as all types of family law for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Understanding Why A Do-It-Yourself Divorce Is Dangerous

do-it-yourself divorceThere are some projects where it might be practical to DIY – divorce is not one of those projects.

As wonderful as the internet is, it does not, in fact, contain all the answers. Conducting an internet search of the marriage laws in your state does not give you an idea of how those marriage laws actually play out in the courtroom. And TV courtroom dramas are nothing more than entertainment and are not meant to give the impression that being an attorney is easy and anyone can do it.

As appealing as it might sound to be able to pay a single, small fee for all the legal documents you’ll need for your divorce, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There’s no denying the fact that attorneys cost money and many people getting divorced are afraid they can’t afford it. But the fact is they can’t afford not to hire an attorney to help them with their divorce.

When two people have been married for any length of time, they have formed a life together. They have combined not just living space, but assets and possessions. If they had children together or were jointly raising children from a previous relationship, those children will be heavily affected by the divorce, and they deserve more than a packet of documents off the internet.

More often than not, trying to save money with a DIY divorce backfires, sometimes to the point of one partner having to file for bankruptcy after the divorce. If you weren’t trained to defend your case in a courtroom, you won’t be properly equipped to represent your best interests. Even if there’s no one more motivated to protect your rights than you, that doesn’t mean you know the best way to go about doing so in a courtroom.

By insisting on a DIY divorce, you could unintentionally get a bad deal for yourself when negotiating settlements and end up with a far smaller settlement than an experienced divorce attorney could have gotten for you. If children are involved you could end up with less parenting time and/or less child support than you are owed.

And are you aware of the developing laws regarding pets in divorce? Some state divorce laws are starting to treat pets more like children (since their owners certainly do), but Illinois still treats pets like property – meaning, if you both acquired the pet during the marriage, the pet will be divided along with the furniture, heirlooms, etc. If you and your spouse acquired a pet together, and you want to make sure the pet stays with you, you’re going to need a competent divorce attorney on your side.

Many couples who try a DIY divorce end up back in the courtroom a year or two later to sort out all the things their DIY divorce missed or failed to handle properly. That costs more time and more court fees. Further, they’ll probably end up having to pay the attorneys’ fees they were hoping the DIY divorce would avoid, only now the fees will be much higher because the attorney will require more time, effort, and resources to sort out the mess made by the DIY divorce. Obtaining your rightful property may also be impossible if you’ve already given it away, as property settlements are generally not disturbed 30 days after the Judgment. Bottom line: it is easier and less expensive to do it right the first time.

Finally, don’t ever assume that a Court will just accept the settlement that you and your spouse come up with in your DIY divorce. More and more judges are refusing to enter divorce agreements that are based on online forms, even the ones the parties paid for using an online document servicer/generator. This is not because Judges prefer to have attorneys, but rather because the Judge can usually identify the problems with the documents or potential pitfalls with the parties’ agreement. So, by rejecting the documents and advising the parties to go seek an attorney to review them, the Judge is actually helping the parties by avoiding a situation where one or both of them has to return to Court down the road to fix the problems.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for divorce cases, as well as all types of family law for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Top 5 Things To Consider When Hiring A Divorce Attorney

o-LAWYER-CLIENT-MEETING-facebookIf you are looking for a divorce attorney to represent your case, you are already aware that this can be an overwhelming and daunting task. The attorney you select will be trusted with your personal and financial information that you may not have shared before. They will take on many different roles throughout your case – most importantly, they will assist you in making important and very difficult decisions, so this person must not only be experienced and knowledgeable, but also highly trustworthy.

The following are some of the top aspects you should look for when searching for a divorce attorney:

#1 – Attentive and Concerned

The attorney you choose should actively care about your situation; you should not feel that you or your situation is unimportant to your attorney. Additionally, your attorney should be willing to introduce you to the people who will actively work alongside you throughout your case, such as paralegals, associate attorneys and administrative staff. Your attorney’s team plays an important role in the process as well.

#2 – Recommended by Someone You Know and Trust and Who Has Been in Your Shoes

The attorney you choose should have experience in family law. Don’t be afraid to ask a potential attorney about the cases he or she has successfully handled and if they have a specific area of expertise with the most important issues in your case, such as child custody, maintenance, or property division. Become aware of the number of cases your potential attorney has tried to juries and judges and/or their experience with in-depth settlement negotiations. In the event your case goes to court or enters the negotiation stage, you will want an attorney who is comfortable and competent, delivering your case in any setting.

A good practice is to seek out former client testimonials. Ask family members and friends if they know of the attorney and/or have any feedback they can share. Talk with people who have been represented by or have worked with the prospective attorney to get an idea of the client-attorney relationship. If family and friends aren’t the best resource for you, then do your research of the firm online to see if they have any published reviews from clients. The best advertisement that an attorney can get is word of mouth.

#3 – Clear Lines of Communication

A good attorney will speak in terms that you can easily understand and also be willing to explain anything that may be confusing to you. Clear communications with a potential attorney is a must; look for an attorney who listens and responds readily to your questions. Be sure to bring any questions to your initial consultation.

#4 – Carries a Professional Demeanor

Remember, you are hiring someone to accurately and effectively represent you. You want an attorney who works with you to recommend and implement the best strategy for propelling you toward your goals. They absolutely must be an effective advocate for you, so make sure they represent you in an ethical manner and promote your interests. Although it may not be evident in the initial meeting, you will want to be wary of an attorney who promises something quickly or makes a guarantee. No attorney can ever “guarantee” a result, as there are often too many factors at play in any court case. Your best bet is an attorney who is honest with you, one who has the skills to accomplish your goals, and one who you believe has your best interests at heart.

#5 – Offers a Clear Outline of Financial Expectations

Lastly, your attorney should clearly outline her/his hourly rate, retainer amount and policy, billing and payment procedures. All of this should be presented to you in writing and explained thoroughly to you preceding representation. Note, however, that unless the attorney is charging on a flat fee basis, rarely will an attorney be able to tell you with certainty what the “final cost” will be for any case. Again, often there are too many factors at play in litigation.

Find The Right Attorney for You

If you are looking for a divorce attorney, you will need a legal team that you can trust. Contact the divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Barbara Sherer. We offer you access to expert legal advice while making sure that the outcome serves your best interests.

What Is Involved If I Want To Appeal My Divorce Case?

Divorce-ModificationsYou should know if you want to appeal your divorce decision that divorce appeals are the least common form of litigation. In addition to uncommon, appealing your divorce is also not an easy process. Essentially, when you make an appeal, it states to the court that you are not happy with the previous court decision, that the decision was not equal, and/or that the law did not support the judgment.

Anyone thinking about an appeal should make the decision carefully. Appeals are expensive and often cost more than the initial trial since issues can be more complicated. Also, since not all attorneys who practice family law will agree to take on an appeal case, the appellant (you) and/or the appellee (your former spouse) will likely need new representation. If new counsel is hired for the appeal, the new representation must be informed of pending issues, and each attorney will spend several hours studying transcripts from the original trial.

An appellant usually has 30 days from the date of entry of the divorce granted to make notice of appeal, but the deadlines can also be sooner depending on what type of appeal you wish to bring. So, it is always highly advisable to speak with an attorney about an appeal immediately after receiving the Trial Court’s Judgment in the case, as time is always of the essence with appeal deadlines, and they must be strictly adhered to in order for the appeal to proceed.

Filing an Appeal

A Notice of Appeal informs the trial court and the adverse party that an appeal will be filed. An appeal typically includes a file brief, which outlines reasons for the appeal. The appellant must pay for the transcript of the trial and all paperwork, such as documents and evidence that must accompany the appeal.

Also, very specific protocols regarding the format of the appeal must be followed. These protocols entail which formal documents must be submitted, as well as the inclusion of specific sections to accompany the brief, such as an appendix, numbered pages and an index. In addition, the appellate documents are required to be filed with the Appellate Court District where the Trial Court is located. The following parties/entities are required to get copies:

  • Appellate court (plus the original documentation)
  • Adversaries
  • Trial court
  • Representing attorneys

Appellate court

When the appellate court reviews all party briefs, hears all oral arguments, and reviews the Trial Court record, the judges can reverse the court ruling of the trial and/or remand (send the case back) to trial court for a new trial or with instructions on which part of the decision the Trial Court needs to readdress. You should note that the appellant court does not review new evidence, nor do the judges hear testimony from any party or witness.

Modifications to Divorce Judgment

As an alternative to an appeal, you could also discuss the possibility of a modification proceeding with an attorney if you are not happy with the Trial Court Judgment. A request may be made to modify a divorce decision by filing a Motion to Modify, but these can usually only be filed after there has been a significant change of circumstances. Such requests can include modifications to child custody arrangements, visitation schedules, child and/or spousal support. This request is filed with the divorce court where the divorce judgment was issued, but there are some exceptions.

Filing an appeal and accompanying appeal procedures are very complicated and a time-consuming processes, so it is not advisable to try and handle an appeal yourself. Contact the divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Barbara Sherer who can serve as your legal counsel, making sure you are presented with a clear understanding of the appeal process, ensuring that you are thoroughly informed about your legal rights and assist you toward making the best decision possible for your case.