As you consider whether you need an attorney for your “simple” divorce, there is something you must keep in mind: a simple case can turn into a complex one at any time during the process. While there is no way to tell how your divorce will go without a crystal ball, here are five things that often turn simple divorce cases into more complicated ones.
The Contentious Spouse
Even a divorce that seems cut and dry on paper can go south if your spouse insists on making things more complicated in reality. They may suddenly change their mind on issues you thought were settled, mention new issues or argue over details at the last minute in the agreement. When a spouse is digging in their heels, they may not be dissuaded by the money, energy or time a drawn-out divorce trial will take.
The Moving Spouse
Moving during a divorce isn’t uncommon, but it can sometimes make the divorce itself more complicated. If, for example, one spouse now lives a long distance away, they may need to travel or do some parts of their divorce long distance. This can make their job harder. Moreover, since different jurisdictions have varying rules, your asset division may change, resulting in the need for a trial or a new round of negotiations. A long-distance move can also complicate custody matters.
The Contesting Spouse
To have a simple divorce, it must be uncontested. This means you and spouse agree to the divorce and the major issues within it. However, sometimes, a spouse decides they don’t want to go through with the divorce. They may drag the process out in the hopes of convincing the other spouse not to finalize it. This can make settlement negotiations nearly impossible to resolve.
The Hidden Asset or Debt
When a divorcing couple puts all their debts and assets on the table and honestly negotiates over them, they might be able to work out their property division fairly easily. However, during the disclosure phase of the divorce–or your own research–you may discover your spouse isn’t telling the whole financial truth.
Is there any hidden asset you have no knowledge of? Are there debts your spouse took on during the marriage you weren’t aware of and didn’t consent to? Have assets been moved or changed out of your spouse’s name so they were not part of the disclosure? Any of these actions will erode trust and make your negotiations harder. If you have doubts about how transparent your spouse is being, it’s time to reach out to an attorney so a deeper investigation can be conducted.
The Complex Asset
In the discovery phase of your divorce, you and your spouse will provide details about your assets. Sometimes, an asset or two can change a simple divorce into a complex one. If, for example, you have a stake in a business, the structure and financials of that business might be complicated. You may need to have the business valued, determine your potential income from that business, and manage any restrictions on how your business interest can be transferred or sold.
Any divorce can take a sudden turn and become far more complicated than you initially believed. If you think this could happen or it is already happening in your divorce proceeding, contacting an experienced divorce attorney is a wise move. The attorney will work with you to examine your divorce and its complex elements so you know all your options going forward. Once you have full knowledge of your case, you can start to make a plan to work toward the outcome that is the most favorable to you.