If you’re going through a divorce, you might be afraid that things will get messy. What does that mean? A messy divorce is one where there’s a lot of fighting and little agreement about how child custody should be managed, how alimony and child support should work, and how the assets (and liabilities) within the marriage should be distributed. Most people getting a divorce would prefer to keep it amicable, but there are some factors that can get in the way of remaining on friendly terms with your soon-to-be-ex. Here are some reasons why divorce cases tend to get messy as well as some tips on mitigating these factors.
There Was an Infidelity or Another Betrayal
If one spouse betrays the other by being unfaithful, it’s natural that the wronged spouse would be angry and hurt. This could cause them to want to do anything they can to hurt the one who hurt them. For example, they might purposely make it more difficult or more expensive to go through divorce cases by arguing about every item that comes to the discussion table. The hurting spouse might even try to turn the children against their other parent or argue that the unfaithful spouse should they not get custody of the children as part of the divorce cases.
One Spouse Wants to Stay Married
In some divorce cases, both spouses are ready to end the relationship. In others, however, one spouse is ready for a divorce before the other one is. The one who would like to work on the marriage might feel hurt, betrayed, humiliated, or devastated (or all of the above). They might vacillate between trying to persuade their spouse to go to marital counseling and trying to hurt the other person because they are angry.
One Parent Wants Full Custody
When children are involved in divorce cases, it’s easy for tempers to get the best of both spouses. The parent who was the primary caregiver might worry that the other parent won’t be able to care for the children on their own if they get joint physical custody. And the parent who was not the primary caregiver might worry that they will be unable to have a meaningful relationship with the children. This can be compounded if one parent is going to be moving outside of the immediate area; there might be fights about whether the children will also move and how the nonresidential parent will handle visitation and overnights.
One or Both Spouses Feel a Sense of Failure
When people get married, they usually plan on the relationship lasting a lifetime. When they decide, instead, to end the marriage through divorce cases, it’s natural that they both feel as though they have failed. This feeling of failure can cause resentment and disappointment to bubble over into the divorce proceedings, making them difficult and messy for all involved. Try to remember that the anger that you and your spouse might be feeling could be caused by the sense of failure, frustration, and sadness that the marriage didn’t last.
One Spouse Tells Lies During the Divorce Cases
It’s not uncommon for one spouse, particularly if they are feeling betrayed or otherwise wronged, to want to hurt the other person. In some cases, this extends to telling lies through divorce cases during the process. This behavior tends to cause unnecessary drama and chaos, and it can also end up hurting the lying spouse’s case in the end.
One Spouse Is Left Friendless
Many couples have “couple friends.” When they announce that they’re getting a divorce, many friends will choose one side or the other. In some cases, one spouse is left virtually friendless. This might be more common if one spouse betrayed the other; although the friends might not know what led up to the infidelity, it’s common that they will side with the spouse whom they perceive to be innocent. This can cause the friendless spouse to be overwhelmed by the sudden lack of a support system and lash out.
Financial Problems Bring Additional Stress
If one spouse worked while the other stayed home or one spouse made substantially more money, it’s not uncommon that the spouse with less money will be dealing with sudden financial difficulties. If neither spouse made a lot of money and they were struggling, as a couple, to pay bills each month, both spouses will generally be left in dire financial straits. The stress caused by financial problems can cause a lot of fighting over assets, money, alimony, and debts.
Tips on Making Your Divorce Less Messy
While you can’t change the past or the circumstances that have brought you to divorce cases and this point, there might be some things you can do to calm the waters a bit and make your divorce less messy. They include:
- Seek support for your new stage of life. This can be family and friends, but it can also include a professional counselor. Having people to rely on for emotional support can help you to keep yourself on a more even keel.
- Don’t badmouth your soon-to-be ex. Whether it’s friends, family members, or your own children, it’s best to keep the dirty details of your divorce between you, your spouse, and your legal representation.
- Get yourself legal representation. A legal advocacy group can walk you through the ins and outs of the divorce process. This will help you to stay calm and to encounter each obstacle as it comes up.
- Talk to your spouse. They might be feeling hurt due to a betrayal, or they might be terrified of what the future holds. Keep in mind that the two of you were once in love and working together as partners. Although neither of you anticipated having to go through a divorce in the early stages of your marriage, it’s possible that you can put your current differences aside and rely on the partnership you had to get through this one last hurdle. Acknowledge that they feel hurt and ask them if they could work with you through this phase of your relationship. Coming to them in a spirit of honesty just might work to diffuse the situation. A family mediator or family therapist might be able to help.
Call the legal professionals at National Family Solutions to find out whether your case can be handled by a legal advocacy group. We can help you navigate these tricky situations and more.