There are so many moving parts to consider when ending your marriage that it can be hard not to slip up and fall into behavior that can be self-sabotaging. Even accidentally causing harm to your children or your case can be accomplished with relative ease if you fail to avoid certain traps.
Previously we provided readers with information on how to avoid the top 7 common divorce mistakes and we thought it might be time for an update. Because every case is different, divorce is an ever-evolving process. Below you will find additional tips that we want you to understand before you embark on your own divorce.
1. Springing divorce papers on your spouse
Most couples headed for divorce see the writing on the wall before anyone files. Unless there is a reason related to personal safety that makes it critical to put on a happy face until you can put all of your ducks in a row, having a process server show up out of the blue is the equivalent to dinging a bell and coming out of your corner swinging. The best course of action is to discuss your feelings with your spouse in a calm manner in a place you both feel secure. If you feel you need support while explaining to your spouse that you no longer want to be married, having that discussion with a family counselor present can help both of you work through any immediate reactions.
2. Venting to your children about your divorce
Even if you are the party who pursued the divorce it doesn’t mean it will be easy on you emotionally. On the rare occasion both spouses agree and can end everything amicably and remain the best of friends. Most of the time, however, divorce is stressful, and your sanity can feel like it’s being tested. When you have children, your job is to shield them from all of that. They already have a big adjustment to make and have their own emotions to work through. Chatting with them about how horribly late your soon-to-be ex is with your child support or laying blame on him or her only serves to poison your children against their other parent. This can cost you child custody or visitation and can even cost you your relationship with your children.
3. Using your children as bargaining chips
Speaking of arguing over negotiations and protecting your children, never, ever use your children as leverage to get something you want in your divorce, or afterwards. Regardless of their age and understanding of what’s happening, your children may very well experience emotional difficulties. Children want the approval and unconditional love of their parents. To use that to gain control over your spouse will hurt him or her temporarily but can cause lasting damage to your children when they’re not allowed to spend time with their other parent or are made to feel as though they have to make a choice.
4. Arguing over settlement negotiations
Allowing the natural anger and emotion that comes with divorce to spill over into your settlement negotiations can create complications that may otherwise never have occurred. For example, one party brings up the issue of infidelity in the marriage and the other spouse, in return, digs in and won’t budge on a bigger issue that’s important to you. In one outburst you may have lost ground with keeping possession of the marital home and having the mortgage payment made or your spouse taking a certain asset in lieu of forcing you to liquidate a retirement account. Listen to your attorney and remain focused on the things you can change.
5. Failing to hire a divorce attorney
Many people who think their divorce is truly simple eventually come to realize that such a beast rarely exists. Couples who try to handle their divorce themselves may think they’ve accounted for everything, but they may not even realize something critical was left undone that can cause problems down the road. Hiring an attorney makes sure you’re protected. The last thing you want is to move on with your life and discover that you have to revisit your divorce to resolve a small but complicated detail.
Having a good divorce lawyer who can see trouble arising before it happens can be invaluable to reaching a successful outcome to your case. Having the ability to sidestep a certain reaction can mean the difference between settling through mediation or going through a costly trial. Schedule your consultation today with one of our caring Knoxville family law attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter by calling our office at 865-637-6258, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.