When preparing to go through a divorce in Arizona, there is a lot you need to know. In previous posts, we’ve covered the steps involved in filing for divorce and tips for navigating the divorce process, but we haven’t yet discussed the mistakes you need to avoid.
So, what are those mistakes?
As you prepare for your divorce, the key is to make informed decisions. If you don’t know what you need to be doing, or if you don’t know why certain steps are important, you won’t be able to protect your interests (or your children’s interests) effectively. With this backdrop in mind, here are seven all-too-common mistakes that can not only make the divorce process more difficult, but potentially impact the outcome of your divorce as well.
What NOT To Do When Preparing to Go Through a Divorce
Mistake #1: Ignoring the Importance of Preparation
The first mistake to avoid is ignoring the importance of preparation. Too often, spouses approach the divorce process from the perspective of simply wanting it to be over as quickly as possible. They want to file and be done with it. But, this isn’t how the process works. As we said above, you will need to make informed decisions, and you will need to make these decisions with your long-term best interests (and your children’s long-term best interests) in mind. The more effort you put into preparing for your divorce, the smoother the process will generally go, and the better the outcome will generally be.
Mistake #2: Assuming All of Your Property is Up for Grabs
Many people assume that when they file for divorce (or their spouse files for divorce), all of their property is up for grabs. This is not the case in Arizona. Under Arizona’s divorce laws, only assets that qualify as a couple’s “marital property” are subject to distribution. Assets that qualify as one spouse’s “separate property” are that spouse’s to keep. As a result, when preparing for a divorce, it is critically important to take the time to catalog your separate and marital property.
Mistake #3: Overlooking Options for Dividing Your Marital Property
Another common misconception about dividing marital property is that divorcing spouses must divide everything down the middle. While it is true that Arizona’s divorce laws require a 50/50 split in most cases, this does not mean that divorcing spouses have to divide all assets equally.
For example, let’s say you have a car you really love. Let’s also say you have a small art collection that you could easily live without. Rather than selling your car to split the proceeds and dividing your art collection down the middle, another option would be for you to keep your car while your spouse keeps the art.
Mistake #4: Overlooking Options for Achieving an Amicable Outcome
If you and your spouse cannot come to terms, you will need to take your divorce to court—right? Not necessarily. From mediation to collaborative law, there are various alternatives for achieving an amicable outcome in your divorce. If you want to avoid going to court but are concerned about your ability to negotiate a reasonable divorce settlement with your spouse, then you will want to consider the viability of these alternatives as part of your preparations. If you don’t, you may find yourself in a difficult—and unnecessarily costly—situation.
Mistake #5: Overestimating the Importance of Marital “Fault”
If your spouse cheated on you, does this give you the upper hand in your divorce? In Arizona, the answer is “No.” Like many other jurisdictions, Arizona has transitioned to a purely “no fault” divorce state. This means that it is no longer possible to file for divorce on any grounds other than irreconcilable differences.
But, while you should not overestimate the importance of marital “fault,” you should not underestimate it, either. In certain scenarios (i.e., when one spouse intentionally wastes marital assets), fault can be a relevant factor in the divorce process. If fault is a factor in your divorce, this is certainly something you will want to address with your attorney.
Mistake #6: Relying on Common Misconceptions about Child Custody
Perhaps no single aspect of the divorce process in Arizona is more misunderstood than child custody. In child custody determinations, the mother does not always have the upper hand, and the courts do not allow one parent to take their children away from the other (except in extreme circumstances).
Instead, all child custody determinations focus on the best interests of the children involved. Nothing else is more important. With that said, divorcing parents still have a significant amount of flexibility to develop a workable parenting time or co-parenting schedule.
Mistake #7: Overlooking Other Essential Aspects of Your Divorce
While property division and child custody are two of the most significant aspects of a divorce, they are by no means the only aspects of the process. Divorcing spouses must address a broad range of other issues as well. This includes things like:
- Access to online photo libraries, song and video libraries, and cryptocurrency wallets
- College savings
- Division of marital debts
- Spousal support and child support
- Tax implications of property division and financial support
Given the breadth of issues, options, and challenges spouses need to consider when preparing for a divorce, it is important not to try to handle your preparations on your own. Rather than trying to figure everything out yourself or rely on one-size-fits-all “DIY” resources, you should seek advice from an experienced divorce attorney. By working with an attorney during your preparations, you can avoid overlooking key issues and relying on flawed assumptions, and you can make confident decisions focused on achieving an efficient, amicable, and favorable outcome.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Phoenix Divorce Lawyer Today
If you are considering a divorce and would like to know more about what you should be doing to prepare, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation at Weingart Family Law. To speak with an experienced Phoenix divorce lawyer in confidence, give us a call at 480-542-0099 or request an appointment online today.