It is a not-so-well-kept secret that the state of Texas has some of the highest divorce rates in the country.
Houston leads the pack with 14,030 divorces in 2012 in Harris County (a rate of 3 divorces for every 1,000 residents).
With such high rates of divorce in the Houston area, a thriving industry of family law attorneys find plenty of work, but not all divorce attorneys are created equal. Just like all types of lawyers, there are good and bad divorce attorneys. Often, you can tell the good divorce attorneys from the bad divorce attorneys by their reputation.
Some divorce attorneys show their lack of experience with the quality of their representation (or lack thereof). As divorce attorneys, our firm sees its share of cases. These are some of the worst mistakes that we have either seen or heard of.
1. “Ask for everything”: While it’s important to start from a position of strength in divorce litigation, unrealistic demands will simply make you look juvenile to opposing counsel and, more importantly, the judge.
2. “Never settle and never give up”: Sure, it’s satisfying to win against your former spouse in court. To the contrary, a settlement is boring. If the situation is right, settling can save you money in court costs and legal fees.
3. “It’s okay to take your property if it’s ‘separate property’ rather than ‘marital property”: While it’s true that a court will divide marital property but release separate property to its rightful owner, you need to wait for a court order. DO NOT take action on your own, no matter how important your property is to you.
4.“Serving your spouse in public can shock you into a strong negotiating position”: In some cases, this might work, but it’s too big of a gamble for such a small gain. Public humiliation is much more likely to entrench your spouse and make him or her less likely to negotiate a favorable settlement.
5. “Make it harder to track your assets”: No, this is not smart. It seems logical to think that if your spouse can’t find everything, he or she can’t get everything. Instead, the opposite is true. Failing to make a full financial disclosure can not only prejudice the judge against your case but can result in a contempt of court citation.
6. “Continue living the same lifestyle to argue for an increase in spousal support payments”: It’s true that one of the factors judges use to determine spousal support payments is the lifestyle a spouse was leading while married, but exaggerated levels of spending look unreasonable. Judges tend to respect realism in divorce proceedings and are more likely to award higher spousal support payments to reasonable people.
7. “Post everything on social media”: While many attorneys have become tech-savvy, some older attorneys still cannot distinguish Facebook from Snapchat. A complete social media blackout is the best policy. Not only do social media blow-ups give ammunition to the other side, they are often permanent records. Once something hits the internet, it is very difficult to erase.