You want your divorce to mean a fresh start and a new chance at a better life. So, how do you avoid the worst parts of divorce and increase your chances of a better resolution?
You can’t pretend your divorce will be easy, but you can take certain steps to make it better. You can approach the process with open eyes and a clear understanding of the work ahead of you. And when you do, you may avoid some of the worst and most common divorce mistakes.
Mistake #1: Let your emotions get the better of you
There’s no doubt that divorce is an emotional process. But you cannot afford to let your emotions drive it. Divorce affects almost every aspect of your life, and you need to give each one its due consideration. It has serious emotional, psychological, social, legal and financial consequences. These can play out in many different ways, and as Forbes notes, if you allow your emotions to blind you, you may rush to judgements that can hold you back for years.
For example, you might fight for a house that you can’t afford to keep, or that stretches you so thin it leaves you no money to pursue other pleasures. Or you might alienate the person with whom you’ll need to share parenting time for the next dozen years.
Mistake #2: Ill-considered social media posts
As social media becomes ever more integral a part of our daily lives, more people fall prey to the same social media mistakes. Anything you post on your social media accounts may be used against you in court. Even if those accounts are set to “private,” they may not be so private as you think.
Attorneys commonly use social media posts—such as vacation photos—to argue that people are in better financial situations than they claim. They may use posts to argue that parents have acted irresponsibly. Or that cheating spouses have squandered marital funds on their affairs. The best defense against such arguments, of course, is simply to go quiet on social media throughout your divorce.
Mistake #3: Put your interests before those of your children
Most parents place their interests in child custody above all else. And most are ready to fight for their rights. However, your combative attitude may lead to harm when you place your interests in child custody ahead of your children’s needs. It may harm your children, and it may harm your case.
Florida law demands that the courts determine parenting time and parental responsibilities based on the child’s best interests. The courts then weigh the child’s best interests based on a lengthy series of factors. So, you want to work with your attorney to understand and demonstrate how your time with your child serves his or her best interests.
Mistake #4: Fail to review the details
With all the chaos and uncertainty that surround the “big picture” issues during a divorce, it can be easy to overlook the details. Except those details matter. Assets and funds that may look similar on the surface may have very different tax consequences. Depending on the tax consequences and the amounts involved, these can have serious repercussions on how fair your settlement may be.
Mistake #5: Expect a courtroom battle
It might be good practice to prepare your arguments as though you needed to win them in court, but that doesn’t mean the courtroom is always the best place to settle your differences. In many cases, if you and your spouse can agree to some of the larger ideas about fair deals, you may be able to resolve your differences in mediation.
When it works, mediation can save you money, give you more control over the whole process and allow you and your spouse to find more creative solutions to your problems. It may also lower the amount of conflict and sore feelings involved, which can be extremely helpful for parents of younger children.
Mistake #6: Don’t plan for after the divorce
However you handle your divorce, it’s bound to change your life. It’s going to change how you work with your children, and it’s going to change your finances. It may also affect your lodging and social circles. In short, you should expect big changes, and you want to prepare yourself for them.
You can prepare yourself, in part, by adopting a thoughtful, facts-based approach to the divorce process. But you also want to think about how you’ll adjust to the other differences. Start budgeting for your post-divorce life. Develop new parenting routines. Rally your support group ahead of time. The more you plan for the life you hope your divorce will bring you, the more likely you are to reach your goals.