As anyone who’s gone through a divorce can share, the process is complex and confusing. Tensions run high, and couples often make poor decisions in the heat of the moment. Most people have never been through the process, causing them to make choices that negatively impact their case, cost time and money, damage relationships, and impact their future.
Given the volume of financial, practical and emotional details to manage, it’s not surprising that many couples make critical mistakes during this intense process. By avoiding these mistakes, you can dodge complexities that could influence you and your family for years to come.
A few of the most common divorce mistakes our team has repeatedly seen clients make include:
• Refusing to face, or prepare for divorce. If divorce has come as a surprise to you, you may be tempted to stick your head in the sand and wait for things to blow over. Divorce isn’t an issue that will go away by ignoring it. While you’re refusing to face facts, your spouse is likely preparing for a life of their own. If you don’t take action to protect your own interests, the final agreement may not reflect your needs.
• Losing your cool. Anger, resentment and hurt feelings are common when relationships are changing and a marriage comes to an end. It’s in your best interest to keep the divorce process as amicable as possible. A high-conflict dissolution can be lengthy and expensive and can alienate your children, extended family members, and friends.
• Starting a new relationship too soon. Whether you don’t like the idea of being alone or are eager to start your new life, beginning a relationship while in the process of divorce may feel like a good idea…. it isn’t. Even if your marriage was “over” long ago, bringing another person into your life during the divorce process can make things needlessly contentious for everyone involved.
• Going through your divorce without a therapist. Divorce is 80% emotional. While you might think you are capable of handling your emotions yourself, staying calm and thinking rationally is a challenge. Having the right therapist on your team can help your divorce go more smoothly than you may imagine.
Working with a therapist (even on a short-term basis) can help you process your shifting emotions, help you relax, talk with your children, and support you in staying calm. Most importantly, a therapist can help you figure out how to become self-sufficient.
A divorce coach adds strategic value when navigating the confusing delays in divorce, and provide wisdom, support and advice about the complex mechanics of dissolution.
• Not following court orders. Court orders are orders, not suggestions. Not doing what a judge orders is contempt of court. Contempt can cause you to be ordered to pay fines, ordered to pay your spouse’s attorney’s fees, or subjected to whatever other punishment the court believes is warranted under the circumstances.
• Assuming that you can change your final decree can be changed later. Many people include terms in their divorce judgment that they don’t really agree with because they assume that they can just change those terms later. While the portions of your final decree may be modifiable, be aware of the financial specifics.
• Refusing to compromise about anything. Divorce requires compromise. A successful divorce means putting aside strong emotions in favor of cooperation. This means neither party will get everything you want, and both parties need to be prepared to give in on some things. The longer your divorce takes, the more it will cost. Litigation means you will have to give up things you didn’t want to lose.
• Hiding money. Withdrawing large sums of money out of the joint account without your spouse’s knowledge or agreement. Unilaterally removing large sums of money from your bank account violates the Temporary Financial Restraining Order, which restricts abnormal activity on any/all financial accounts. A judge will order you to return the money and perhaps pay your spouse’s attorney’s fees too.
7. Don’t wait until after the holidays. You already know the holidays are not going to be difficult. So why wait? Family Law professionals often see an increase in clients before, during, and after Christmas. The longer you refuse to face issues, you prolong dysfunction and risk destroying the chance for an amicable division.
• Let kids be kids. Children need a supportive environment to process change. Minimize the amount you talk about the process, which will give you more time to be there for them. When you are relaxed, they become more relaxed. Refocus your energy so you can attend their school and after-school events, help them with homework, and take them out once in a while to the movies or the zoo.
• Refusing to seek professional support to end your marriage. Though you may want to show your independence and wisdom by handling your divorce yourself, this is an unwise choice for many reasons. A knowledgeable and experienced divorce professional will advise you of many aspects of dissolution that you may not be aware of, while ensuring that the division of assets is equitable, applies Washington State Family Law, and fairly represents your best interests.
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Whether you’re contemplating a divorce, have already started the process, or are far into the proceedings, do you wish you had someone to share with you the inside scoop on how to save money, time, and emotional energy on your divorce?
Our team is available for Support On-Demand to discuss the many scenarios, options, and implications of separation or divorce, via telephone or videoconference during this time. Feel free to get in touch with us; we are here for you!