Common Mistakes Clients Make

The McCarthy Fingar Team

Over the years, McCarthy Fingar’s Matrimonial & Family Lawyers have observed the common mistakes clients make when getting divorced. On this page, we describe some of those mistakes.

1. Not Considering Using the Collaborative Process or Mediation as Opposed to Court-based Litigation.

A common mistake is not considering the various options to get divorce without court-based litigation. Before commencing a divorce action, ask your attorney and/or spouse to consider using the collaborative process or mediation to resolve your parenting and financial issues.

2. Announcing the Divorce to Your Children

It is important to minimize the impact of divorce your children. Don’t tell the children that you are getting divorced unless you have first discussed it with your spouse or a mental health professional. One common mistake is that a parent will tell the children about the separation and/or divorce without first consulting with the other parent. This undermines the other parent and may negatively affect the impact of divorce on your children. In some instances a mental health professional should be consulted. Depending on the situation, mental health professionals can be very helpful in advising parents when and how to tell their children about the divorce. By consulting with a mental health professional, it helps lessen the impact of the divorce on the children.

3. Using Your Children As Pawns

You should not threaten to deny your spouse access to the children. Parents who are the primary caregivers and lack financial resources sometimes threaten to deny access to the children to gain financial leverage in the divorce. A court will consider a parent who denies or interferes with the other parent’s access to the children as being hurtful to the children unless the parent denying access can show that access is not in the children’s best interest.

4. Introducing “Significant Others”

If you have a significant other, you should not discuss him or her with your spouse or children. It can be very hurtful to your spouse and children when you announce your new relationship and can inflame an already volatile situation. You should wait until the divorce is finalized before communicating about your significant other and introducing him or her to your children. 

5. Serving Process on Your Spouse in Public Places

You should always first try to serve your spouse with divorce papers at home or in a private setting. Serving your spouse at work or in public places should be a last resort as it is embarrassing and creates hostility between the parties. 

6. Venting With Emails & Text Messages

During a divorce parties are often emotional. You should never put anything in writing that you don’t want a third party, especially a court, to read. Emails and text messages create paper trails that can be used against you at a later time. 

7. The Wrong Attorney

The right attorney can settle your case amicably and expeditiously. The wrong attorney can prolong the case and ensure that you incur substantial legal fees. 

8. Losing Your Cool

Arguments happen but it’s important to remain cool. If you threaten or abuse your spouse, your spouse may obtain an Order of Protection against you and you may have to vacate the marital residence. Also, if you violate the Order of Protection, you can end up in jail. 

9. Moving Out

Unless there is a danger of “losing your cool” if you remain in the marital residence, you shouldn’t move out of the marital residence until you have a signed Agreement or a Court Order. If you voluntarily vacate the marital residence, you may not be permitted to move back in. Vacating the marital residence may be costly because you will need to establish a new residence. Moreover, it may adversely affect the time you see your children.

Contact Us

If you think you may require the assistance of McCarthy Fingar’s Matrimonial & Family Law group, please contact Kristen Mackay Pennessi by email ( or by phone (914-385-1033).

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