1. Don’t Expect to “Win” Your Divorce Case
A lot of people start their divorce hoping to “beat” their spouse in court. In fact, there’s seldom a true winner in divorce. The typical divorce involves various issues, such as child custody, support, and the division of property. Rarely do divorcing spouses end up with everything they want. For example, one spouse might be awarded primary physical custody of the children, but may receive a much lower amount of spousal support than requested; it’s virtually impossible to tell the “winner” from the “loser” so trying to “win” is pointless.
Instead, consider the consequences of a full-blown court battle before you go down that path. In addition to the many thousands of dollars you’ll spend, your children may suffer the most in a heated divorce battle. After the dust has settled, you may soon forget who “won.”
2. Don’t Make Important Decisions Without Thinking Them Through
Many life-changing decisions come up during a divorce. For example, you may have to determine whether to you need to sell the family home. Resist the impulse to make a quick decision just to get the case over with. When making important choices, it’s essential that you consider the potential consequences.
3. You’re Getting Divorced: Your Kids Aren’t
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the heat of the moment. However, saying cruel things to your spouse in the presence of your children can have a lasting effect. Psychological studies show that the more parents fight during a divorce, the more damaging the whole process is to the children.
Whenever you’re about to say something hurtful give yourself some time to think before you speak. A simple rule to follow is to count to ten before you answer a question or make a statement.
In addition, unless there’s a history of abuse or neglect, your children will continue to have a relationship with their other parent. No matter how upset you are with your spouse, you should not try to discourage or interfere with a healthy parent-child bond.
You may want to consider asking an experienced mental health professional to counsel your children about the divorce, and seek counseling for yourself as well, so you can learn how to address your children’s needs during this difficult process.
4. Don’t Believe Everything Other People Tell You About Their Divorce
Your divorced friends may give you advice about what should happen in your divorce. Unfortunately, the information and advice you get from other people can be misleading or wrong.
Every divorce has a different set of issues. Your friends may believe what happened in their divorce is typical, but it’s best not to base your decisions on someone else’s experiences. Instead, rely on the advice you get from your attorney, mental health professionals, and financial consultants, all of whom are familiar with the specifics of your case.
5. Court is Not All That It’s Cracked Up to Be
When things are not going well in a divorce case, one spouse may threaten to terminate negotiations and head to court. However, the road to a divorce trial is long and costly. The expense of a trial can deplete the very assets that are often the subject of the dispute. Even simple matters can require multiple court days to complete, and after spending many thousands of dollars, spouses and their attorneys are left with the total uncertainty of how a judge will rule.
6. Create an Inventory of Household Furniture and Furnishings and Make Copies of Important Documents
Disputes over furniture, furnishings and other valuable items, such as a great wine collection or an expensive piece of art, can be avoided by taking a complete inventory of your home as follows:
- take photographs of every item and photograph sets of small items, such as dinner ware, together
- use the front page of that day’s newspaper in every photograph in order to create a “time stamp,” which avoids any claims that the photo was taken at an earlier date
- keep your photos in a safe, protected place
- create a list of all items, including where they’re located and your estimated value of each, and
- get appraisals or ask for insurance inventories of the items in your inventory.
Despite the strict rules for disclosure, some divorcing spouses will hide or destroy key documents such as pre-nuptial agreements. This problem can be avoided by making copies of important documents as soon as you decide to file for divorce, or learn that your spouse is doing so.