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Women can make mistakes unknowingly, when their marriages end, in many ways.

1. Having little or no understanding of family finances. If you do not know about the family finances, how will you know if your spouse has created a mass of debt without telling you? Alternatively, how will you know if your spouse has diverted the family finances and accumulated assets outside of your reach? Either way, if you have no awareness, you may not be adequately prepared to readily access information for your attorney. The result can be an expensive and drawn out divorce proceeding. It sometimes takes up to 2 years from the day your spouse starts thinking about getting a divorce until he actually pulls the trigger. All during this time, it is normal human behavior to make a plan; be smart and be on top of your family finances. If you are considering filing for divorce, plan to take a few months to investigate. You need to know what you own and what you owe.

2. Having too few resources to get started. If you have been financially dependent on your husband, you can request "temporary maintenance" from the Court on the onset of the divorce proceeding to cover your expenses until your divorce is finalized; however, it sometimes takes more than a couple months to get before a Judge. Having too few financial resources to tap into when the divorce is filed puts you at a disadvantage. Not only will it cause you to make hasty decisions not in your best interests, but this type of financial deprivation causes emotional distress. Always have a source of funds, essentially a nest egg to tap into under any unexpected life circumstance – expect the unexpected. Never be in a position where you have no money for your expenses or the ability to hire a lawyer to defend your rights. Attorneys require a retainer to initiate a divorce action. Amounts can vary widely, anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on your circumstances.

3. Failing to use a lawyer. When the husband in a divorce tries to control the divorce process by setting up private meetings with his wife, or tells his wife that she should trust him and not her attorney a wife should pay careful attention to his motives. It may be an attempt to get his wife to settle for much less than what she is entitled to receive if she were to listen to her attorney. It is not uncommon to see very angry husbands when the parties later enter into negotiations with legal representation. When your husband realizes that his Wife has become strong and knowledgeable through legal counsel, it is not uncommon to see a change in his demeanor. You can expect him to become angry and difficult to deal with once he learns you are empowered with legal representation. Of course, making minor decisions relating to the divorce is always recommended to show the Court you are fair and amicable in your ability to cooperate or co-parent; however, when it comes down to major decisions, such as the amount of spousal maintenance and/or child support you are entitled to receive, who stays in the house with, or without, the children, and a fair division of property and debts, it is always best to consult with an attorney as the justice system utilizes formulas and accounting tools to make these determinations

4. Responding emotionally. One of the biggest mistakes women make is responding emotionally. Often, they will give in because they are emotionally exhausted and/or they are afraid of being judged by observers such as family members. Giving in too soon under pressure is one of the major regrets women have in a divorce. Alternatively, a woman can delay her divorce to make her husband suffer or for revenge; not caring how long it takes or how much it costs. Wives are not the only ones reacting emotionally, husbands have been known to punch walls. Parties have stormed out of the proceedings or have been unable to even start negotiations being in the same room with their spouse. Remaining calm is the best way to achieve a good resolution.

5. Confusing fairness with the law in divorce. In a divorce, there are many instances where one party may feel that they should be treated fairly or should receive justice. Unfortunately, divorce is not about fairness or justice. A woman may believe it would only be fair that she receives more than an equitable share of the marital assets because her husband committed adultery. Colorado is a no-fault divorce state, meaning there is no penalty for cheating; it has little impact on the distribution of assets, or the amount of spousal maintenance/child support that you would be entitled to receive.

6. Taking a husband's reaction to the divorce personally. Men, and some women, once they accept that the divorce is occurring, will perceive the proceedings as a business deal gone wrong. Their approach will become cold, shrewd and emotionally distant. Husbands will have an advantage in negotiations when wives feel hurt and submissive because of their fear over their husband’s reaction. Having such feelings results in a weaker position. Your emotional state will affect your finances and your divorce. Women need a certain amount of resilience, self-awareness, and a firm grip on reality to navigate divorcing their husbands. Get the help you need, whether that's through therapy, a support group or good friends who will listen.

7. Settling too soon, and for too little money. Why take less than you are entitled to receive? Some women feel guilty taking what they have every right to receive under the law. Others just want to get it all over with as quickly as possible. Attorneys sometimes have a client sign a document saying that it has been explained to them how much they are entitled to receive in a Court of law, and that they acknowledge that they are giving it up anyway. From my experience, most women who sign a settlement agreement to get the divorce done quickly and painlessly ultimately regret their decision, and, for years to come, experience resentment and remorse over their decision..

8. Making major lifechanging decisions during the divorce process. Divorce can be lifechanging – it is very difficult and painful; some say it may be worse than death in that it only legally ends with the entry of the Decree. For a lifetime you may be subjected to seeing your spouse through social gatherings or intra-family relationships, such as with children. During the divorce process you will face many stages of loss – denial, fear, anger, guilt, depression and ultimately acceptance. A mistake often seen is to deny yourself these stages of loss. Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment so that you do something irrational. Both parties are very vulnerable during the divorce process causing them to reach out in unhealthy ways to fill the gaps of emptiness such as finding another mate right away, moving in with a man to make ends meet, or leaving town. Making any lifechanging decisions within a year or so is not recommended. It can not only be detrimental to your legal position in your divorce proceeding, but significantly disempower you during the growth process. With time and patience, you will reach the acceptance phase and your pain and fear will be replaced with strength, confidence and self-awareness.

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