Getting a divorce is no walk in the park, but there are some divorce mistakes you want to avoid. Emotions are high and the stress can be almost debilitating for some during the divorce process. Unfortunately, some people make it harder for themselves. There are certainly some mistakes you can avoid making when getting a divorce which will ensure your chances of a much smoother course.
Rachel Scharrer is a divorcee who knows about making divorce mistakes. In fact, she has created a website called Divorce Answered so that others could learn from her ‘mistakes, trials and lessons’. In her introduction of herself she says:
My name is Rachael. It was the evening of June 7, 2012 and I was faced with the end of my marriage. I had two very young children, no income and looking at a difficult future. It was the most emotionally confronting time of my life. I had to try to stay strong for the children while inside I was breaking down. At first, I didn’t tell any of my friends. My family were supportive but didn’t know what I should or shouldn’t do. Even though there had been childless-divorces in the family, divorcing with children was a completely different matter. The information I needed wasn’t readily available. I felt so alone.
Divorce can be very isolating. Sometimes people are not as helpful as they would like to be because they don’t have the relevant knowledge or experience. Then there are others who are ‘too’ helpful and in our darker moments offer a advice which is unwise and tainted by their own relational baggage. But it’s a mistake to shut everyone out.
Some Divorce Mistakes We’re Tempted to Make
Shutting People Out and Ourselves In
One of the biggest mistakes that hurting people can make when they’re going through a divorce is to shut people out. This is not just shutting out your ex or their family and friends – this is going incommunicado with human beings in general. When we hurt, many of us have the temptation to withdraw ourselves or we can lash out. Sometimes we can even swing wildly from one to the other! As tempting as it is to shut people off so that we’re never hurt by another person again, we are made for connection with others and they with us. We do need the help of others through the divorce process. Our friends don’t need to know what a divorce is like to understand emotional pain and they can still be our friends. Just be sure to wisely sift their advice for what you know they’re good at. Legal advice is better from a person who is actually experienced in family law. Your friend will be good at noticing that you need a hand with the kids or that you need encouragement to ask your employer for reduced hours for a couple of weeks to cope with the extra stress you have at the moment. People may bring us to the end of our tether but they are also our lifeline.
Not Hiring a Lawyer
Not hiring a lawyer is one of the top 5 divorce mistakes that Rachel Scharrer has listed in an article she did for the Daily Mail. Ms Scharrer says even if you are representing yourself in court, advice from a lawyer is invaluable – as some judges are less forgiving than others. ‘It’s important to know what information is relevant and useful to bring to court as judges’ patience can wear thin quite quickly,’ she explained. ‘If you cannot afford a full time lawyer on your case, then consider asking one to check over and provide advice on documentation like letters, proposals and agreements before forwarding it to the other party.’
Ultimately, unless you’re a specialist in family law, you won’t know the specifics of this complex area of the law. You could be doing yourself a great disservice as a result.
Not everyone’s circumstances are the same and divorce is not ‘one-size-fits-all’ when it comes to a divorce property settlement and parenting arrangements. You really need to have someone who can help you understand the long-term implications for decisions that you are making now. Someone with good head knowledge and experience of family law will help us to negotiate the best way forward.
Refusing to Negotiate
One of the most frustrating divorce mistakes, this is unhelpful to everyone. Being the roadblock will make you look like the bad guy and you will lose the opportunity to partake in conversations (even if they are through a lawyer or other mediator) that may help you to work out the best settlement possible. Covering your ears and hiding in the corner may feel like you’re protecting yourself, but you’ll actually be cheating yourself instead.
Mediation does not have to be in the same room as your ex if you find that too intimidating or if you know that close proximity will cause tempers to unhelpfully flare. Ask your family lawyer what your options are instead of assuming a system that lacks compassion and understanding.
Going on a Spending Spree
A little shopping therapy while you still have a joint bank account is not advised. This can certainly count against you either in mediation or if you end up going to court. It is not just your money to spend and the reality is that two households cost more than one so you will need to be wise with your money and be thinking long-term. There is also something called ‘asset dissipation‘. In this context it is the wasteful depletion of matrimonial assets – assets that have not been divided up yet for a divorce settlement. An example might be gambling away joint savings, spending a massive amount on a holiday for yourself or purposefully destroying your family car. This is one of the greatest divorce mistakes because this kind of behaviour will come back to bite you when it’s time for settlement and you’ll end up having to ‘pay’ anyway.
Posting on Social Media
Step away from the keyboard. The problem with kinds of sites such as Facebook and Instagram and other information we put online is that it becomes a goldmine to be used either for, or more often than not, against us. People’s need to overshare online gets them into a great deal of strife. The information can be used to help build a case or it can be used to challenge one. If in doubt about what you’re about to post – don’t.
Being short-sighted means that you have trouble seeing objects in the distance clearly. Because divorce can be quite traumatic, it’s often hard to think about the future when the present is so intense and overwhelming. The many decisions that need to be made now must be made taking the future consequences into account. For example, you may desperately want to keep your marital home and fight tooth and nail for it, not realising that down the track the rates, upkeep and insurance are all too much for your new budget. This is where it is important to seek and listen to good advice – especially from experienced professionals.
At Divorce Lawyers Brisbane we love to help people. We especially like to help people avoid making divorce mistakes like these! Our experienced family lawyers offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation. Please contact us today!