Good morning and welcome to Family Law Matters video blog. Today’s topic is the seven most common mistakes that clients run into during their legal action. My name is Attorney Beshoy Shehata. I’m the managing partner at Family Law Matters and our goal, our purpose, our mission is to guide you through this complicated legal process and to make it as easy as we possibly can for you.
So today we’re talking about the seven most common mistakes to avoid. Mistake number one is disclosing your conversations with your attorney to the other side. Your conversation with your attorney is privileged. Everything that you discuss with your attorney, you discuss in secret. So when you meet with your attorney and then you leave and you go talk to your spouse or soon to be ex and you start divulging all of the information and the legal knowledge that you have now gained, it puts you at a disadvantage. You may be disclosing a strategy to the other side that we don’t want them to know about yet. So please make sure that you protect the conversations that you have with your attorney at every step of the way. The information again is privileged and it’s intended for you and your attorney and your legal team only.
Mistake number two is trying to negotiate with the other party early on. It’s good to have conversations with the other side and open up the dialogue, but when you negotiate with the other parties soon, the mistake that most people do is they put an action plan in place and they start executing. You don’t want to execute on that action plan until it’s in writing and you’re protected. That doesn’t mean you have to go to court, but it means that the other side has to commit and you have to have a court order in place to hold them accountable and make sure that you are not taken advantage of.
Easiest example I can think of is both parties own a home, they agree to sell and split the proceeds. They automatically put the house on the market, they sell the house and they split the proceeds. What you don’t understand is that is a bargaining chip for you. The lump sum that you’re going to give could be something used to reduce your support, for example. Or we can use it to give you a larger portion of a 401k or a retirement plan. So make sure that while you want to keep the negotiations going, moving and healthy, you also don’t want to start executing too soon. Also one more point on that is your agreement with the other side may not be fair to you. It may not be in your best interest and these are things that you want to discuss with your attorney and your legal team prior to making any such commitments or agreements.
Mistake number three is taking on debt while your case is pending. If both parties have large amounts of debt, you don’t want to agree to pay off the other party’s $15,000 credit card debt because you may not get credits for those. And if nothing’s been filed with the case that debt is considered paid during the marriage and therefore you’re not entitled to any credits.
Again, make sure that before you do so that you discuss and agree on those terms with your attorney because your attorney will advise you of your options and tell you what you can, what you should and what you should not and cannot do.
The fourth mistake that we often run into is concerning children, where one party conceals the children from the other parent in hopes that they will receive a more favorable custody arrangement or a custody order. You cannot do that. That’s one of the things that the court looks for. It’s one of the things that the court oftentimes penalizes for and it’s considered alienation. So you want to make sure that both sides, both you and the other side, have continuing relationship with the children. If you have custody concerns, these are things that you need to discuss with your legal team and as you attend mediation, child custody recommendation counseling, CCRC, or any other court ordered evaluations you need to make sure that you are doing everything by the book and that you are not, for lack of a better term, digging yourself a hole.
Mistake number five, discussing the case with the children. You do not want to discuss the case with the children. Children are sponges. Anything that you discuss with them, they are going to tell someone else. Whether it be their teacher at school, their counselor, their therapist, their friends, the other sides, relatives, their cousins. So you want to make sure that you are not discussing your case with the children because if the children have to be interviewed, you do not want them indicating that mom told me to do so or dad told me to say this. Make sure that the kids remain as neutral as possible. They need to understand that you and the other side are handling this solution or separation as adults and your job is to love them, protect them and decide what’s in their best interest. That’s really all the children need to do and please keep in mind that a divorce or a separation is not easy for kids. It’s very traumatic. It takes a toll on them. It affects their school, it affects their health, it affects their relationships, and it really shakes their foundation and causes a lot of instability. So please, please, please do not discuss your case with the children.
Mistake number six, having a confrontation with the other party. When you choose to retain counsel, it’s your counsel, it’s your attorney’s job to do the negotiations for you. It’s not your job to confront the other side and try to force them into an agreement. It needs to be done properly. It needs to be done by the book, and we need to make sure that you are protected every step of the way. Avoid confrontations that oftentimes lead in restraining orders or the police being called to the home and some sort of incident report. These are public records, so you want to make sure that you avoid all confrontation as much as possible. If you both live under the same roof, please make sure that you discuss this with your attorney and make sure that they give you your options and walk you through the process.
The last common mistake that we often see throughout the life of the case is one party giving the other party money without a court order. Oftentimes parties during the separation will agree that party A is going to give party B a certain sum per month or a lump sum payment without it being in writing. The problem you run into there is if you’re giving the money cash, it’s hard to trace. People get alzheimers all the time and they forget that they’ve received payments and you can’t trace it and it’s on you to prove to the court that you have paid such amount. So please make sure that you are not giving the money to the other side without a court order. You need to make sure that you’re protected because we want to make sure that we do a proper accounting, that you get the credits for payments that you’ve made so that you both walk out as equal as you possibly can.
So this was today’s topic, seven mistakes to avoid in your legal action. If you have any questions, our legal team here at Family Law Matters is always ready and willing to help you. Please pick up the phone or contact us online. You can schedule a free consultation by mentioning these videos and we do have two locations. One in Temecula, one in Corona, and we’ll walk you through your legal options, walk you through a couple of different scenarios so you understand what you are required to do, what your obligations are, and where there is room for negotiating and discretion. Thank you once again for listening and look forward to talking to you soon.