If you’re considering a divorce, all you have to do is talk to a divorced friend or family member to find out that the process is not easy. In addition to being emotionally-charged, divorces are full of logistical issues that can be difficult to balance during such a heated time.
In recent years, numerous studies have shown that divorce is the second highest stressor for humans, second only to the death of a spouse.
Because of this, many couples make poor decisions in the moment. Fortunately, you can make your divorce smoother and less painful by knowing what the most common mistakes are and how to avoid them.
Here’s an action list I like to recommend to my clients:
What NOT to do During a Divorce
Stay out of the “mud” as much as possible by avoiding these ten pitfalls during your divorce proceedings:
1. Don’t pit Your Children Against Your Spouse
Not only is this painful for the children, but it creates undue stress in the household. Divorce can be very traumatic for children, and making them pick sides between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will only hurt the kids in the long run. If you’re having trouble processing your resentment or anger towards your spouse, or your kids seem particularly distressed by the separation, family counseling may be helpful.
2. Don’t Dismiss the Possibility of a Collaborative Divorce
A collaborative divorce, which takes a “troubleshoot and problem solve” approach rather than a “fight and win” stance, are better for everyone involved. Even if tensions are high at first, don’t dismiss the possibility of a collaborative divorce down the road. Give the proceedings some time, so everyone has a chance to settle down and allow cooler heads to prevail.
3. Don’t Sleep Around – Your Heart is Vulnerable
Loneliness is a common theme during a divorcee, and it can be tempting to go out and find someone – anyone – to fill the void. This is a sensitive time, though, and bringing someone else into it will only complicate matters. Even worse, it could add fuel to the fire if your spouse finds out.
4. Don’t Wait Until After the Holidays
Many of my clients have expressed the desire to “just get through the holidays” without the mess of a divorce. Unfortunately, waiting only draws the process out and makes it harder and more painful for everyone involved. If you know what you need to do, don’t delay the decision.
5. Don’t “Settle” to get it Over With
It’s natural to want to end your divorce as quickly as possible and get on with your life. Doing so, however, may result in a settlement that’s not fair for you or your children. As painful as it is, it’s smartest to partner with a competent attorney, and be mindful about making sure your needs are met – both now and in the future.
6. Don’t lie About Your Debts or Assets
Divorce has far-reaching financial implications. The more upfront you are about your debts and assets during the proceeding, the less likely you’ll be to face unpleasant surprises down the road. Think of it this way: you don’t want to go back to court to re-establish support payments because you misrepresented your income six months ago.
7. Don’t Forget About Taxes
Divorce and taxes: they’re an unwelcome couple that go hand-in-hand. Before you jump to a settlement, be sure you understand the tax implications of doing so. For example, getting the house also means you will have to pay the taxes and upkeep. If you can’t afford that, it may be wiser to opt for an investment portfolio of equal value, instead.
8. Don’t Assume Anything – be VERY Thorough
Divorce documents are complicated, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Don’t assume anything, though. Enlist an attorney to help you go through the documents with a fine-tooth comb and ensure you understand critical details – like child support payments. This ensures you don’t miss anything now that could be problematic later.
9. Don’t Forget to Change Your Will (if Appropriate)
Ending your marriage doesn’t automatically revoke your will. If you want to alter your will or your soon-to-be ex’s part in it, have your attorney update your will during the proceedings. Keep in mind that if you die before your divorce is final, your spouse can sue to recover his or her share of your estate.
10. Don’t Lose Your Faith in Good Relationships – They are out There and Possible!
It’s natural to retreat and lick your wounds for a while after a divorce. Don’t lose your faith in ever finding love again, though. When you’re ready, the right person will come along. Trust that everything you learned from your last relationship will only serve to make your next partnership stronger and healthier.
One Final Thought…
Divorce is a difficult process. There’s no way around it. Whether you’re struggling to establish a parenting plan or holding out for a collaborative divorce, the opportunities for stress and heartbreak are everywhere.
We can’t make the process hurt less. We can, however, promise it will be easier if you avoid common divorce mistakes.If you’re going through a divorce or considering ending your marriage, our team is here to help. Compassionate, experienced, and specializing in collaborative divorces that ensure everyone’s needs are met, MGM Law, P.A. is your source for compassionate advice and consistent help throughout your divorce. Contact us for a consultation today.