Divorce is one of the most stressful things that can happen in a lifetime. Next to losing someone we care about, divorce ranks as a top stressor. Any time that we are under stress, we are vulnerable to making short-term reactive decisions that can have negative long-term effects. While avoiding emotional heartache is almost impossible, it is wise to be on alert and aware of some of the traps we may fall into. You may want to share this list with those who care about you to point out to you if you seem to be steering off course.
The top 10 things to avoid doing in your divorce
- Do not play or think of yourself as the victim -- avoid the blame game regardless of the situation.
- Do not bad mouth your ex to your children
- Do not think that the court room or a legal battle will satisfy your appetite for revenge (you future success in life is the best revenge)
- Do not underestimate the long term impact of affidavits
- Do not deal with the asset division and parenting plan at the same time
- Do not get involved with someone else until you are divorced
- Do not let your emotions drive your decisions
- Do not prolong important decisions
- Do not base your financial decisions on attachment to materials things (ie: your home)
- Do not let your divorce define you. It is only an event in your life. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Create a vision of your new life and hold that vision close and trust that some day it will come true.
Your children are one half the other parent and saying bad things about them sends the message to your children that they are half bad. Your children's self esteem can be very quickly damaged by continuous fighting and bad mouthing. Instead, share your feelings with friends and family while your children are not around. If you do slip up, as we all make mistakes, then quickly apologize to your kids and tell them you will try not to do that again as you know it hurts them.
Sometimes when we feel that we are not going to be treated fairly or if we believe that our spouse is to blame for our breakup, we might look to hire a lawyer who can "stick it to them." Do not confuse justice with fairness. Most couples leave the court system feeling beat up and a lot poorer. Very few think it was worth it or that they won.
Affidavits are prepared to "state your case" or to "tell your side of the story." One very wise judge said that there is something about putting negative things about your soon to be ex in an affidavit that once in writing it can never be taken back. If there are children involved and you need to continue to parent together after your divorce, then these should be avoided if at all possible. If you have to file one with the courts, then ensure it states facts only. Your perspective is not fact.
Your children matter the most and while you likely want to settle parenting quickly, take it one logical step at a time. Negotiate money and kids separately to avoid a tug of war between money and kids. While parents seldom intentionally use kids in negotiations, it happens all the time -- even if not directly stated. The best way to avoid this is to deal with money matters first, therefore reducing the worry and stress around that and then move onto parenting. This way both parents are in a better place to just focus on creating a co-parenting plan that works for everyone.
While it may seem that you have both moved on and are "over" each other, there is nothing like a third party to spike all sorts of reactive behavior. Leave space between your old and the new, not only for the sake of ending your divorce peacefully but also for your emotional wellbeing.
Ensure you are surrounding yourself with people who can tell you what you need to hear as well as what you want to hear. Emotions can play havoc with our ability to see clearly. Usually in financial matters, there are only a few reasonable ways to divide assets and so if you find yourself going around and around in circles -- it is likely that your emotions may be involved.
By nature we are pleasure seekers and pain avoiders. Divorce is painful and so avoiding it and the decisions associated with it is natural. The issue is that sometimes once it is clear that it is time to make a decision and we prolong it -- the consequences can be worst then if we had made it sooner. Try to lay out a written plan and try to discipline yourself to stick to it.
Your home is what you make of it between the walls -- not the actual walls. You can create a home anywhere if you have the right positive attitude. You do not want to be divorced and house poor. Your kids are much better off with a happy stress free parent than one that is home bound because of limited finances and household chores.