Divorce is infamous for being a stressful and complicated process, and every family will have unique challenges on the way to marital dissolution. However, there are certain common pitfalls and mistakes that affect the outcome of many divorces.
The five errors below are among the most common and damaging mistakes people make when pursuing a divorce or responding to a filing by their spouse. What shouldn’t you do as you prepare for a divorce?
Don’t ignore reality
For someone who does not want a divorce and who feels surprised by their spouse’s filing, it is natural to want to ignore or deny the reality of the situation. However, if you fail to respond to your spouse’s filing in a timely manner, they may be able to request a divorce by default. That means they will have complete control over all the terms for property division, support and custody. You need to establish your priorities early in the divorce and then respond appropriately to your spouse’s suggestions.
Don’t settle before you understand the situation
Some people go the opposite approach of ignoring a filing and instead immediately sign paperwork agreeing to whatever demands their spouse makes. This approach is not any better for someone than ignoring a divorce filing. You need to make sense of state laws and your marital resources to determine what would be appropriate and fair. You can then counter the initial settlement proposal and begin negotiating with your spouse.
Don’t handle the process alone
There are books and websites that will tell you that divorcing without a lawyer is the best solution. Such divorces are really only practical when couples have no children or major resources and agree on all the details of their divorce. Even then, the potential exists for one spouse to trick or manipulate the other.
Don’t let your feelings run the show
Even those who believe that divorce is the right idea might find themselves bristling over even the most reasonable compromises related to custody matters and property division. Those facing divorce need to set priorities that will help them have happier futures and handle issues based on their long-term goals, not their short-term emotional reaction.
Don’t put your children in the middle
For couples that share children, custody matters are often a source of conflict. Not only can intense disagreements between parents affect their relationship with one another and their stress levels, but those conflicts can also be damaging for the children in the family. Instead of trying to get the children on your side, create a situation where they don’t have to take a side because both parents want what is best for them.