9 Common Mistakes Couples Make During a Divorce

By Stephen McDonough, Esq.
Next Phase Legal LLC

When going through a divorce, the relationship between you and your soon-to-be ex can become contentious. Understandably, some tension and stress is common, but out-of-check emotions and poor communications can cause things to deteriorate. This often means higher legal fees and more conflict–both during the process and after. There are ways to make the process go more smoothly by learning from mistakes we have seen divorcing couples make over the years.

Avoid making these nine common mistakes and you can make your divorce a less stressful process.

When you’re deciding to leave

  • 1. Not having a discussion about divorce: Your spouse expects you to be completely honest and open–you are married, after all. If you’re having problems in your marriage, take the time to have a meaningful conversation with your partner. Don’t jump the gun and tell your significant other you want to end things before even discussing the state of your relationship. You can save yourself time and money if you just sit and talk with your spouse about how you should handle your marital problems before things get out of control
  • 2. Breaking the trust you’ve built: Relationships are built on trust and honesty. If you’re gathering your belongings and moving them out behind your partner’s back, this could blow up in your face. Your spouse will find out, and then you’ve broken the trust you’ve built over your time together. This will make divorce negotiations much more difficult as is just one way to start the process off in a way that will add additional strain.
  • 3. Making nasty comments: Although you may be feeling angry at your partner, it’s best to keep a level head and take the high road by avoiding name calling and other inflammatory language. The less adversarial you are, the smoother the divorce process will go. This is especially critical if you have children.
  • When managing your finances

  • 4. Hiding money: Hiding your income or assets is not a good idea. Private investigators and financial experts are paid to find your money and identify areas where things just do not add up. Not to mention that a judge will not take kindly to finding out you hid money from your spouse. Judges don’t appreciate being lied to and will punish you for it. Completing your required court financial statement accurately and completely is not just required, but it is also makes the most sense.
  • 5. Hoarding financial information: During a divorce, if you fail to share your information it will increase your legal and accounting fees without question. It’s much better to be open and honest.
  • 6. Spiteful spending: Withdrawing money or charging expenses will hurt you in subsequent negotiations. If you have to take money out early in the process, it is best to speak with a divorce lawyer or discuss the issue during a mediation session.
  • When you’re in negotiations

  • 7. Being stubborn: The harder you make it to reach an agreement, the more money comes out of your pocket in legal and/or mediation fees. It might feel good in the moment to argue about the little things, but it likely won’t get you anywhere. Hold your head high, keep an eye on the future (and your wallet), and try to come to resolutions in a reasonable amount of time once you have the necessary information to move forward.
  • 8. Post-divorce fighting: Battling with your former spouse over child issues and money, or picking at each other over past conflict and hot-button issues will be damaging to everyone involved. It’s draining both financially and emotionally.
  • When you’re back “on the market”

  • 9. Starting a relationship too early: You may not be ready emotionally to begin a new relationship before your divorce is finalized. Also, you may risk making your ex-partner jealous and causing issues in divorce negotiations. If you do start to date, it is best to keep things low profile. Also, be cautious about introducing children to your dates. This area must be handled carefully or it can cause much upset to children–even older children–and your former spouse. Be respectful and move slowly.
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