9 Mistakes to Avoid While Getting Divorced

9 Mistakes to Avoid While Getting Divorced

When you are in the midst of a divorce, it can be hard to know which way is up or to keep your bearings. Take a deep breath! For now, you need to keep your wits about you and remain grounded. Avoid these common pitfalls as you navigate the process and take steps towards establishing your new life. (You can see our divorce attorney services here).

1. Letting Your Emotions Lead Your Financial Decisions

Don’t text or email your partner angry. A sharp tongue is not going to win you any favors with your soon-to-be-ex. It’s better to keep communication just to the necessities right now around your shared responsibilities. The old adages that anything you say can be used against you and think with your head and not your heart ring true for a reason. A divorce is like a business transaction. A journal is a much better place for documenting transgressions and letting out anger, and it makes for a good record for later.

2. Expecting a Big Windfall Right Out of The Gates

Two households now must exist on the same income that used to support one. If you were the primary breadwinner in your family, expect to pay child support. However, once you are single, you can begin to control the budget a little more and start to use your income at your own discretion.

3. Fighting About Things You Don’t Care About

If it doesn’t matter to you, let it go. It‘s tempting to spite your spouse by fighting over petty things, but it distracts from more important matters and could cost you legal fees. On the other hand, don’t take a passive role in your divorce or assume it’s all being handled. You need to take an active stance and fight for what is important to you.

4. Not asking your spouse for all pertinent financial records or hiding assets.

Collect as much documentation as you can before your divorce starts. Obtain copies of tax returns, bank statements, wills, loans, credit card statements, deeds to property, car registration, business policies, and insurance policies.

If all assets are not properly disclosed, your divorce could take months longer as your case goes through the discovery process.

5. Starting a Business or Make a Big Purchase

Consult with a divorce lawyer before starting a business or making a major purchase. If you use marital income or assets to finance your business or make a major purchase, you may complicate assets that must later be divided during divorce.

6. Spreading the News Around Town

If possible, skip the big Facebook posts and make a private announcement to friends and family instead. Some people take it a step further and wait to announce the split until the divorce is finalized. Remember, social media posts can be used against you in divorce proceedings, and proceed with caution before you badmouth your ex publicly.

7. Involving The Kids

Keep your kid’s life as close to normal as possible. It will save your kids unnecessary heartache, and you will fare better in court.

8. Not Obtaining Quality Legal Advice

You don’t need to navigate this process alone. If you have questions on the best way to proceed with your separation, Herlihy Family Law is here to help you through the process. Call our divorce lawyers at 251-432-7909. Serving the greater mobile area Mobile, Saraland, Satsuma, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort, and Foley.

The Basics of Family Law

The Basics of Family Law

Family Law is an area of law that deals with family matters and domestic relations such as divorce, child support, child custody, adoption, termination of parental rights, petitions for protection from abuse, alimony, pre, and post-nuptial agreements, and more.

It can also include other forms of family affairs such as:

  • Annulment
  • Conservatorships
  • Delinquency
  • Dependency
  • Grandparent Rights
  • Guardianships
  • Health Care Directives
  • Juvenile
  • Mediation
  • Name Changes
  • Paternity
  • Parent Relocation
  • Power of Attorney
  • Probate
  • Pre-nuptials
  • Protection from Abuse (PFA)
  • Spousal Support
  • Visitation
  • Wills

Helpful Terms to Know Around Family Law

There is a lot of legal jargon so we’ve broken down some of the terms you’re most likely to come across.

Legal custody is when a parent is responsible for making decisions about the child’s health, education, and overall welfare. Joint and sole custody are options for legal custody as well.

Physical custody is known by many for who the child lives with.  Physical custody means that one parent has been granted the primary responsibility for the child’s day-to-day care. Those responsibilities include providing the child with food, shelter, and safety. In this instance, the child resides at one parent’s home the majority of the time.

Legal Separation A Legal Separation and a divorce are almost identical in the fact that the procedures are the same. Child custody and support can be awarded, and assets and debts will be divided in both; however, at the end of the Legal Separation process, you remain married to your spouse.

Divorce settlements generally focus on three things: marital property division, alimony and support, and child custody and support.

Collaborative Law is a method of alternative dispute resolution wherein the parties commit to resolving their dispute out of court. Because parties to a divorce often need to have a continuing relationship due to co-parenting of children, Collaborative Law is ideally suited to divorce and other family law matters.

Uncontested Divorce refers to a divorce where the parties do not go to court, and the divorce is submitted solely on the parties’ written agreement.

Guardian ad litem In Alabama, a GAL is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the “best interests” of the child or children involved. A GAL’s duty is not necessarily to advocate for what the child wants, which can sometimes be opposed to what is in the child’s best interests. The Guardian Ad Litem will often be asked to present a recommendation to the Court for consideration after the case. While the Court will consider the GAL’s recommendation, the Court is not bound by what the GAL recommends.

Mediation Mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution where a third-party neutral, typically a lawyer, facilitates a settlement agreement in your case.

Tips from A Family Lawyer

We have years of experience as family lawyers. With that, we’ve been able to create helpful video resources for people looking for more information on how to navigate divorce. Here are a few of our most popular videos that answer questions you may have.

DIY Divorce

People are often tempted to DIY or Google their way through a separation, but it’s worth consulting with a lawyer to see how they might be able to assist you. It may be more straightforward and affordable than you think.

We have found that the DIY divorce websites our clients use are not always in compliance with local laws. Furthermore, the judges and clerks at the Mobile Domestic Relations Court are themselves legally obligated not to give you legal advice, so there is no one to turn to for specific questions about your case, unless you hire a lawyer.

We can provide that much-needed legal advice and next steps. We’re here to help you get a fresh start and provide support during a traumatic period whether or not you and your partner decide to split ways. If you’re even contemplating a divorce, call us, and we can share the next steps and guide you through what that process might look like for you.

Reasons to Hire A Family Lawyer

A lawyer is an added layer of protection during contentious situations. You can communicate critical decisions and requests through your lawyer and remove yourself from the heated part of the argument. This is especially helpful if the situation is high conflict and very escalated. A lawyer can work with you to create a parenting plan that meets your family’s unique needs and isn’t a boilerplate web form. They have years of experience on what has worked well for other clients and what hasn’t worked so well so you can avoid crucial mistakes. When it comes to arranging summer break, vacations, and holiday time, this insight can prove invaluable.

You can let the lawyers handle some of the more challenging aspects of the separation and keep the focus on the interactions you and your partner do need to have. Your lawyer will be your best line of defense and protection if there is abuse or if you are being bullied or coerced into agreeing to something not in your best interests.

What Our Clients Say

“(Herlihy Family Law) was the strongest and most competent legal team I could ask for. As a father fighting for custody, I was intimidated going into this battle. From the very first phone call with Alison, I am positive I made the right decision. The entire team at Herlihy Family law helped me through my child custody case. They were always thorough, honest, hard-working, quick to communicate with me through every step and take action when needed. All information was presented to me in a factual and realistic manner without any fluff. My voice was always heard and valued. I am so thankful that I chose them and because of this team, I was awarded everything we were fighting for. I completely recommend Herlihy Family Law for anyones case.” – Dwayne McLain

5 Star Client Review on Google:

5 Star Client Review on Google:

We just received this new 5 star client review on Google:

I went through a long and difficult contested divorce with no minor children. Alison and her team were so good at advising me throughout the process. They were patient and understanding with any issue I had. If I had questions or concerns, Alison was able to answer and put me at ease. She has a gift for being the right balance of firm and compassionate. In preparing for trial, she was knowledgeable, skilled and thorough. I would recommend her and her team to anyone for any area of family law.

Steps to Start a Divorce

Steps to Start a Divorce

Attorneys Alison Herlihy has been a family law attorney since 2005 and Walter Gewin since 2013–they have the experience to help you make your divorce as painless as possible.

Here are the most common steps to start a divorce and more information on what the process looks like to dissolve your marriage.

Steps to Start a Divorce

  1. Meet the residency requirements
  2. Get your affairs and paperwork in order
  3. Focus on the kids
  4. Prepare the initial divorce papers
  5. Go to Domestic Relations Court (if needed)

Meet the Residency Requirements

You must be a resident of Alabama to file for divorce in Alabama. The time requirements and whether your spouse must also be a resident depends on your fact situation and can be explained in more detail in a consultation with an attorney.

Get Your Affairs and Paperwork in Order

Gather as much information as possible! You will want to have as much of the following information as possible on hand:

  • birth certificates
  • wills
  • deeds
  • tax returns
  • pay stubs
  • bank records
  • credit card records
  • investments information
  • life insurance policies
  • mortgages
  • family trusts
  • employee benefits handbook
  • titles to all vehicles
  • mortgage documents

It is of utmost importance to know your own income and your spouse’s income, what you have, and who and what you owe.

If you are concerned there may be debts you don’t know about, you need to run your credit report to make sure your spouse has not used your information to obtain credit in your name.

Focus on the Kids

You and your partner are getting divorced, your kids aren’t. Keep it civil and don’t involve your children in any disagreements. Get support systems in place for your kids, including letting the school, coaches, and doctors know what is going on at home.

Consider counseling to help your children cope. It can also be good to maintain your children’s regular schedule and activities as much as possible.

Prepare the Initial Divorce Papers

The person filing is considered the Plaintiff, and the person being served is the Defendant. Your papers will include a complaint and a summons, and will list certain factual assertations and a general listing of the relief you are requesting from the Court, including:

  • Separation of Property
  • Alimony
  • Custody of Your Children

If you and your spouse are mostly in agreement on the items above, your divorce can be handled in an uncontested manner, sometimes called a no-fault divorce. The checklist for what is required for an uncontested divorce can be found here on the Mobile County – Thirteenth Circuit Court of Alabama website.

Your family law attorney can help you prepare and file these documents.

If your case must be handled in a contested manner, then your complaint for divorce is filed and your spouse must be personally served. Our attorneys will begin gathering evidence, documents, and interviews supporting your position in a discovery process. After discovery, you and your attorney will begin assessing whether your case can be resolved by settlement or mediation, or whether it is necessary to take your case to trial.

Ideally, most of, if not all terms, can be settled at some point in the process. If an agreement can’t be made during negotiations, those items will be taken to trial where a judge will rule on them as the final resolution. It can take divorce cases an average of 12 months to get to trial. Today, trial settings are significantly slower, and less reliable, due to pandemic.

Mobile Domestic Relations Court

Mobile’s divorce court is called the Domestic Relations Court. Two judges–Hon. Walter H. Honeycutt and Hon. Michael D. Sherman–currently handle all of the divorce proceedings.  All matters are handled through the Mobile Government Plaza. The Domestic Relations clerk’s office is located on the 9th floor and the Courtrooms are located on the 2nd floor.

If you’re getting divorced, Herlihy Family Law is here to help you through the process. Call us at 251-432-7909. Serving the greater mobile area, including Mobile, Saraland, Satsuma, Fairhope, Daphne, Spanish Fort and Foley.  

How to Handle the Holidays when you are Getting a Divorce

How to Handle the Holidays when you are Getting a Divorce

The holidays can be a tough time for many people, and going through a divorce during the holidays can make it even tougher. If you adapt a few strategies, you can make this season a new beginning following your divorce rather than an ending.

Plan ahead: The holidays are a busy and chaotic time, so you cannot assume that old traditions will necessarily be the same this year due to your pending divorce. Think about what you are grateful for and how you want to spend this season of thankfulness and giving. You have plenty of people who care about you, so do not be afraid to reach out for Thanksgiving, Christmas or other holidays plans just because your customary plans may not be available to you due to your pending divorce. If you always spend Christmas dinner with your in-laws, that most likely will not be an option this year. Find someone else to enjoy Christmas dinner with, but be aware that the holidays are a very busy time so adopting new traditions takes advanced planning.

Communication is key: A divorce is a huge transition, so you cannot make any assumptions about how you, your soon-to-be former spouse, or your children will be spending the holidays this year. If you are trying to schedule multiple and separate holidays with both sets of grandparents or other extended family, communicate with your co-parent clearly and directly about plans and with plenty of notice, to help avoid confusion.

Put Your Children First: Divorce is very emotional, and it can be easy to get so caught up in the fighting and stress of litigation, that children sometimes feel lost in the shuffle. Absent unusual circumstances, it is good for children to have quality time with both parents, even during or after a divorce, so when you are making your plans, keep your children at the forefront of your mind.

Practice Self-Care: That old saying about putting your oxygen mask on yourself first applies more than ever during the holidays! The holidays can be a very stressful time in general, and then add that to getting divorced, one of the most stressful life events you can experience, and you have a recipe for poor mental and emotional outcomes during this season. Your self-care strategies are more important than ever if you are getting divorce during the holidays, including avoiding excess alcohol, getting enough sleep, eating nourishing foods, and getting some joyful movement and sunlight every day.

Set Healthy Boundaries: When you are going through a divorce, you may not have the bandwith to do all the things your normally do. You may be experiencing financial difficulty due to splitting your finances and separating households, so you may not be able to purchase as many gifts as in the past. You may feel so stressed and overwhelmed that you can’t host a dinner for 20 people or make cookies for the entire class, and that is OK! Don’t be afraid to say no to obligations and honor your own needs.