Divorce is hard, even if it is the best decision for you. Divorce signifies the beginning of the end of a dream or hope. Divorce signifies a loss, and for some, may feel like a failure. And a divorce may significantly affect more than the married parties, particularly where a child or children are involved. That is why it is important to act reasonably in a divorce and minimize the potential harm.
With that said, when going through a divorce do NOT:
1. Lose Perspective. In a divorce emotions tend to be on overdrive and more often than not will cloud your judgment. The last thing you want to do is make a decision you will regret.
2. Retaliate. Divorce may be painful or, in some instances, infuriating, but retaliation is not going to make the process any easier and will likely backfire or cost you more than it should.
3. Lie or Omit Important Facts or Information. The truth eventually comes out, so be forthcoming, even if the facts or information are not particularly flattering to you.
4. Ignore the Law. There are boundaries you have to operate within during a divorce. Ignoring those boundaries could be damaging to you, or worse, to your child(ren).
5. Let It Consume You. A divorce will consume you if you allow it, which is unproductive. There is a reason you are divorcing, so focus on the outcome not all the minutiae in between.
Conversely, when going through a divorce, DO:
1. Hire An Attorney Who Will Be A Reasonable But Strong Advocate. You need guidance in a divorce – the law and procedures are not simple to navigate. But there are attorneys who actually make a divorce more difficult or more expensive than necessary. Be sure to hire an attorney who has not only the knowledge, but also a passion for their work – you will likely have a better experience if you do.
2. Focus On the Goal. The goal is to unyoke yourself from the other party with as little damage as possible so you can go on with your life. The goal is not to “make the other party pay” or “hurt.” Be sure to remind yourself of that throughout the divorce because it is likely there will be times it is easy to forget.
3. Expect Change and Prepare For It. Life as you know it will change. One of you will likely need to move out of the home. You may need to get a job. Property will need to be divided. Start taking care of those things as soon as possible and work as much as you can out with the other party. Inventory all assets, liabilities, and such. The more prepared you are, the more seamless the process may be.
4. Keep the Interest of Your Child(ren) at the Forefront. Your child(ren) did not ask for the marriage or divorce – they are the ones who are truly losing. Be sure to avoid discussing litigation or the other party with them, and give them a third-party outlet to express their thoughts and opinions, such as a counselor. Chances are the divorce is harder on them than it is on you.
5. Choose Your Battles Wisely. See DO #2. If fighting the battle is not going to assist in accomplishing #2, then like Elsa from Frozen, let it go.