Divorce puts people into an almost impossible situation whereby they are asked to make important financial and legal decisions that will affect them for the rest of their lives while also dealing with the end of their marriage. This situation requires people to set their natural emotions aside during what is likely the most emotionally difficult period of their lives. While asking people to keep their emotions out of their divorce negotiations may be difficult if not altogether impossible, there are good reasons for trying to stay cool and collected when negotiating a divorce settlement. Here are just three examples of how people often hurt their own best interests by letting emotions overwhelm them during divorce.
1. Revenge is costly
Divorce hurts, especially if there was some specific behaviour (such as adultery or substance abuse) that led to the divorce in the first place. While many people going through a divorce tend to believe that their former spouse's behaviour should count against that former spouse during settlement negotiations, the hard truth is that when dividing property judges and the law do not take morality into account. Trying to get revenge on a former spouse only ends up driving up legal fees, court costs, and draws out the acrimony of the divorce. Rather, talk to a lawyer about how to best protect one's financial interests without regard to "getting even" with an ex-spouse.
2. Not all assets are equal
In most cases, the marital estate will be divided equally between both spouses. However, while dividing an estate 50/50 may sound straightforward, it is important to remember that not all assets are created equal — even if they have the same value on paper. For example, as the Financial Post points out, holding onto a $50,000 car and giving an ex-spouse a pension worth $50,000 will leave one with a car that will only depreciate in value and one's ex-spouse with a pension that will increase in value. Additionally, other assets are subject to certain tax implications that can affect their value over the long term.
3. Holding on to the house
Finally, holding onto the house at all costs is a mistake that many people make when going through a divorce. While it is true that a house is a significant asset, it can also be a costly one to maintain. As CBC News points out, holding onto the house can be an especially bad idea for older people who are preparing for retirement. In such circumstances, selling one's interest in the home, downsizing, and focusing on assets (such as pensions) that will actually help one maintain a comfortable retirement is usually a much better path forward.
Taking emotions out of divorce is never easy, which is why it is so important to have a legal professional on hand. An experienced family law lawyer can help those who are dealing with a divorce understand how the decisions they make today will affect them today and in the years to come.