We often have clients come to our office confused and overwhelmed at the outset of the divorce process. Whether the client has chosen to seek a divorce or has been served divorce papers by his/her spouse, both spouses are going through a process of change that is entangled with emotions.
If you are contemplating divorce, it is likely that you have a list of concerns. You and your soon-to-be ex once acted as a team, and now you feel overwhelmed attempting to balance your life, your children’s lives, and your job without this teammate. However difficult this time of your life seems, during your divorce is not a time to buckle under the pressure. A goal of your divorce is to move on with your life and get a fresh start. While you might have been the responsible parent for the last ten years of your marriage, during your divorce is not the time to start behaving badly.
In order to have your divorce go as smooth as possible, avoid the following five mistakes that many newly single spouses make during the divorce process:
- DO NOT use social media to vent – While going on a Facebook rant about your spouse might seem like the cheap alternative to seeing a therapist, this type of behavior can be detrimental to your divorce case. Posts on Twitter and Facebook are making their way into more and more court cases as evidence. This type of evidence is relatively new, but judges can allow this type of evidence. What seemed like a good idea posting on Facebook to hurt your spouse will not seem like a good idea when it is used against you in the courtroom.
- DO NOT use your kids to communicate with your spouse – Remember, your spouse will always be your child’s parent, no matter the outcome of the divorce, so using your kid as a middleman is inappropriate. Kids need to be in a supportive environment where both parents are working together in the best interest of the children. Don’t put your kids in the middle of the divorce, but instead remind them that both of their parents love them and they will always have a relationship with their father and mother. To keep your children out of the middle of the situation, minimize the time you spend talking about the divorce process.
- DO NOT behave stubbornly – The best thing you can do when getting a divorce is to keep conflict out of the relationship with your spouse. The way you behave towards your spouse, attorney, and the court can be viewed as a direct reflection of your character. There will be many times during this process when you will need to think critically about compromising with your spouse. No matter how angry you are, will whatever you’re arguing over now really matter five years in the future? During divorce many people feel like they are trying to beat their spouse and come out the winner. However, a divorce is not a game. Sometimes compromising with your spouse advances your true goals. Focus on long term goals. Don’t sweat the small stuff, but concentrate on the things that matter.
- DO NOT start behaving badly – While going through a divorce is a difficult process for many, there is no legitimate reason for bad behavior. Carry yourself in a respectable manner: be cooperative and courteous. Maintain your dignity throughout the process and remember all actions, both good and bad, can be used for or against you. Pay special attention to the texts, emails, and voicemails that are sent to your soon-to-be-ex spouse because if they reflect badly on you they will almost certainly be brought to the courts attention. Be conscious of your conduct, both in court and outside of court.
- DO NOT start spending money in ways that are not customary – Many people find it tempting to shop when they are stressed. However, it is very important to remember that during your divorce is not the time to start frivolously spending money. If you have developed excessive spending habits leading up to your dissolution, now is the time to think critically about your family’s financial needs. It will be important to show the court your financial situation through the Statement of Income and Expense that is filed with the court. It is important to show the court an accurate view of both parties’ finances. We often see situations where one spouse, during the divorce process, moves out of the marital home and into a swanky, expensive apartment. This type of new expense can be viewed as extravagant and wasteful by the court and can be harmful to your case.
If you or someone you know is considering divorce, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney to work as your advocate during this process. Kathleen Shaul practices solely in the area of family law and has dedicated her career to helping Missouri families. If you would like to get legal advice about your specific situation, call 314.499.1476 to schedule a confidential consultation.