Divorce proceedings present challenges for everyone involved. They’re an emotionally charged situation; when feelings are this taut, it’s difficult to make rational choices.
In addition, the divorce process can be confusing. Many laws and regulations dictate what you and your spouse will have to go through, even if you probably wish it could be over swiftly.
So it’s all too easy to make a classic mistake. Many divorcées have looked back on the process later and wish they’d done things differently. If you’d prefer to avoid some of the common errors other have made during their divorce, take some lessons from those who have gone before you.
- Letting Emotions Make Your Decisions
No one can deny that divorce is an emotional process. It would be impossible to ignore feelings of sadness, anger, pain, and sometimes even overwhelming relief as a result of the situation. But you mustn’t let such common though understandable feelings take over.
“In order to come together and reach an amicable agreement, it’s important that you do whatever you can to keep emotion out of your negotiations,” say Cheryl and Joe Dillon, professional divorce mediators and contributors to Huffington Post. “A counselor or coach can help you process your feelings constructively, so you can gain the clarity you need to make smart decisions during the proceedings.”
- Ignoring Your Options
Divorcées have more options than they may recognize. You don’t have to undergo a long, drawn-out court battle, and you don’t have to accept the recommendations of your attorney.
Many people overlook the option of mediation, a highly useful tool for arriving at compromises. There may be other ways to compromise peacefully and complete your divorce, so consider all the options ahead of time.
Research what you should know about filing for divorce in your state. The more you know about the process, the better the outcome is likely to be.
- Using Your Children to Get What You Want
The divorce is undoubtedly hard on you, but it’s probably going to be more difficult for the kids. “Divorce or separation will always be bad for children — there’s no getting away from it,” argues Penelope Leach, award-winning child development expert and author of the book Your Baby and Child.
“It ranges from disruptive and sad to tragic. What’s best for children is if their parents love one another for ever … but there are always lots of things that you can’t get perfect for your children.”
Aside from realizing the impossibility of this ideal, Leach says she sees too many parents use kids as bargaining chips. “Children are being used as weapons in the marital war when actually they are its victims,” she says.
There are always other ways to get what you want. Never drag your kids through the mud of your divorce, or you’ll have psychological damage to repair for long afterward.
- Not Prioritizing Your Kids
Leach also talks about the importance of putting your children first through the divorce. Many parents don’t use their kids for gain, but they fail to give them priority in negotiations.
Decisions are often made without the kids’ best interest in mind, and families struggle to pick up the pieces afterward. In the emotional turmoil of your divorce, place the needs of your kids in front of your own.
They’ll need the most help and support during this difficult time, and this is the best way to be there for them.
- Taking a Backseat
“If you let your spouse and other participants in the divorce proceedings handle everything without your input, you may run into some uncomfortable surprises,” says an article from LawFirms.com. Remember that you have to live by every decision your spouse or your attorney makes for you, so being active and present are critical.
“Taking an active role in your divorce may open you up to more stress and emotional pain, but you need to at least consult with your lawyer regularly,” it continues. Speak honestly with your attorney.
If there’s something you don’t understand, ask. If your spouse is fighting for a right you don’t think he or she should get, say so. You’ll have to live the rest of your life with these decisions, so get them right now.
- Leaving Out Taxes
The tax implications following a divorce will reopen old wounds come April, and the outcome won’t necessarily be in your favor. “After the divorce is final, you may get taxed on the marital assets you received through your settlement,” says Lina Guillen, an attorney and contributor for DivorceNet.
“Say your spouse handles all the investments and offers to split them 50/50. Sounds good, right? The only way to know if you’re getting a fair deal is to determine the value of the investments on an after-tax basis, then decide if you like the deal.”
This makes talking with a financial expert during the divorce essential. If you don’t know a good financial expert, your divorce attorney can probably recommend one.
Navigating a painful divorce is a lot easier if you’re prepared ahead of time. By avoiding these key mistakes, you can expect a better outcome for everyone involved.