No one gets married expecting to get divorced, and it’s not a process that most people spend much time thinking about or preparing for before it becomes necessary to do so. That means that it’s incredibly easy for you to make one of the many and apparent common divorce mistakes around.
But if you can find a way to avoid some of the most common divorce mistakes, the process can be much smoother and easier than it would be otherwise.
Take a look at some of these common divorce mistakes and how you can avoid them.
1. Letting Your Emotions Lead You
It’s entirely understandable for you to have any number of emotions surrounding the breakup of your marriage.
On any given day, your emotions could run the gamut from sorrow to anger to relief. And that’s OK – your emotions are valid, and it’s necessary and important to give yourself time and space to feel and process them.
However, you can’t allow them to make your divorce decisions for you.
If you’ve never seen a counselor or therapist before, this may be a good time to start. If you can’t seek out professional counseling, at least try to surround yourself with friends and family who will listen to you express your feelings without judgement and who will offer the support you need.
Make sure that you’re taking care of yourself so that when it’s time to go to court or negotiate the division of your assets, you have your emotions under control and you can be calm and rational while you need to be.
2. Losing Sight of Your Children’s Interests
Divorce is hard enough when you’re just dividing up living space and money. When you’re splitting parenting time, things are much more difficult.
It will be difficult for both of you to adjust to going from a full-time, married parent to a single parent who has to share parenting time with the person that you’re no longer married to.
However, custody decisions are not about your feelings. They’re about what your children need. And in most cases, what your children need is an ongoing relationship with both parents, even if those parents aren’t together anymore.
One of the most common divorce mistakes made is inability of sharing your children and co-parent without acrimony.
When you put your kids in the middle of a contentious divorce situation, they’ll be hurt more than either of you could ever hurt the other. And your job as a parent is to protect your children from being hurt. So make sure to make them your number one priority.
If both of you are committed to doing what it takes to ensure that your children suffer as little as possible during the divorce process, you’ll wind up with a custody split that makes sense for everyone.
3. Digging in Instead of Compromising
When you’re feeling hurt and angry with your ex, you probably aren’t feeling inclined to compromise. But digging in and refusing to give any ground just drags out the process and creates more conflict than what already existed.
It won’t make you feel better in the long run. Instead, you’ll feel trapped in a divorce that drags on and on when it doesn’t need to.
When you’re unwilling to compromise, you ensure that the other person is also unwilling to compromise. You may feel that you’re simply standing your ground and that your ex is the one that’s refusing to compromise with you. But the reality is that you can’t control what your ex does and doesn’t do – you can only control your own actions.
Regardless of how your ex is behaving, take it upon yourself to take the first steps toward a middle ground.
In many cases, this is what it takes for the other person to move a few steps in your direction as well, putting you both on a path to a reasonable divorce settlement.
Don’t be afraid that willingness to compromise seems like a sign of weakness. Compromise and giving in are two different things, and your willingness to be the first to offer something that they want in exchange for something you want puts you in a position of strength, not of weakness.
4. Failing to Follow Court Orders
There is a reason why court orders are called “orders” and not “friendly suggestions”. The court has the power to enforce their orders and they tend to look harshly on people who fail to follow them.
If you’ve been ordered to pay support, produce the kids for visitation with your ex, turn over a particular item or asset, produce documents, or anything else, make sure that you do it. If you have a problem with a court order, you can talk to your lawyer about the proper procedure for contesting it, but as long as the order remains in place, then you have to follow it.
Not only will the court force you to comply if you fail to do so on your own but the judge is also less likely to make decisions that are favorable to you going forward if you show that you aren’t willing to do as the court says.
5. Not Exploring Your Options
Not all divorces are the same, and they don’t all follow the same patterns. There are actually many different ways to get a divorce:
- Some couples need high-priced lawyers and some don’t.
- Some benefit from mediation services and some don’t.
- Some couples can handle their divorce on an entirely DIY basis, and some can’t.
And there are many levels in-between.
Divorces can be expensive, and fighting in court can be exhausting and upsetting. If you don’t need to spend the money on a lawyer and if you can avoid fighting in court by attending mediation, these are definitely things that you should consider doing.
But many couples don’t know that they have these options.
For people who don’t want to hire a lawyer but aren’t comfortable working completely on their own, there are options like National Family Solutions, a legal resource group that will help you find what you need and prepare your case without having to hire an expensive lawyer, or making one of the most common divorce mistakes.
Look into all of your options before you decide how to handle your divorce, then make the decision that avoids the common divorce mistakes above and makes the most sense for your situation.