While divorce is always an area of concern if you can keep it from becoming a crisis, you can avoid a lot of extra expense as well as emotional turmoil. Keeping a divorce at an elevated level of importance in your life is natural.
When the situation becomes one that necessitates emergency meetings, avoidance maneuvers, and catastrophe mitigation, it has spiraled out of control, and it is likely that damage may have already been done to your financial situation, your custody prospects, your brand, and your relationship with the other parent. In extreme cases, there can also be legal concerns involving domestic violence, criminal charges, and financial matters.
Keep your divorce from requiring expensive and difficult rehabilitation by following these core rules.
- Never violate a court order. Temporary orders are issued at the beginning of every case involving movement of finances and other orders may be included about custody and visitation or contact with your spouse. Violating any of these orders will recklessly damage your case, pit the judge against you, and make you liable for contempt of court.
- Walk away from conflict. No matter what your conflict style with your spouse has been up to this point, from the beginning of the divorce and onward, the best approach is to not engage in conflict. You have an attorney who can handle every aspect of your case. There is nothing you need to argue about. Engaging in acrimonious debate could escalate into a dangerous situation where either one of you could do something reckless. Domestic violence charges are serious and will damage your case. An order of protection will complicate your entire position. There is no point worth making that results in legal repercussions so serious.
- Evaluate situations before acting. Your entire focused goal should be moving your divorce to a fair and livable conclusion. If the action you are contemplating does not assist in that, don’t do it. If you’re unsure, talk to your attorney who can provide insight to help you assess the situation.
- Do not hide assets. Attempting to conceal assets so that your spouse and your spouse’s attorney can’t find them almost always backfires. The result will be extra hearings and subpoenas, extending the length and cost of the case. The assets will ultimately be included as marital assets, and the judge will doubt your honesty moving forward.
- Keep family and friends out of the fray. Involving family and friends in your divorce simply escalates the drama, gets more people upset, and has the potential to make the entire situation even more complicated than it was. This means not involving children in anything to do with the divorce, including criticizing the other parent to them, arguing in front of them, or encouraging them to choose sides. Other family members should also be kept out of the situation as they can stir up emotions, make accusations, and further inflame the difficult atmosphere.
- Let go of your spouse’s affair. Whether your spouse started seeing someone else during the marriage or after, it has little to no impact on the actual terms of your divorce, even though it may be a source of extreme emotional upset to you. Becoming too involved with thoughts of this other person can bring about destructive and potentially criminal behavior such as tracking cars, videotaping, tracking cell phones, logging into your spouse’s email, stalking, or worse. If you know your spouse has a new love interest obtaining further information about the situation will not help you get a better outcome in your divorce.
- Don’t engage with the press. High-profile businesspeople or celebrities are always big news. Avoid leaking anything about your ex which could be damaging to their brand or career. Creating this kind of harm will ultimately reduce the assets available to divide in the divorce, as well as the income that will make spousal support possible. Do not make any statements that are not vetted by your PR team. Keep all information about your divorce as private as possible.
- Do not take legal action as revenge. Making the divorce more difficult by instructing your attorney to “paper” the other side (send them massive amounts of unnecessary and complicating documents, motions, and legal pleadings) or attempting to draw out the divorce to last as long as possible will do nothing more than increase the total legal fees spent out of marital assets and extend the length of time you are in limbo before the divorce can be finalized. Use the divorce only as a means to an end – ending your marriage, dividing your assets, and establishing a parenting plan that will allow you both to parent your children. Divorce that is twisted to become punitive ends up hurting everyone who is involved.
- See a therapist. Seeing a therapist can help you work through the myriad emotions involved in divorce and help you find closure at the end of the marriage. Therapists also provide a forum for venting and working through the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing so that you can hone and refine your communication with your spouse so you can parent together in the future.
- Participate in the process. A crisis can sometimes bring out the ‘hide your head in the sand’ mentality. If I don’t look at it, it will go away. Your divorce is not going away. You can’t avoid it. Failing to participate only hurts you in the long run. You need to get an attorney, talk honestly with that attorney, and formulate a plan of action that will resolve the issues in the divorce. It’s fine to take time to think things through, but ignoring potential problems will always backfire, creating a crisis that will need to be addressed on an emergency basis. If your spouse files divorce papers and you are served, you cannot ignore it, or the process will move forward without you having any say at all.
- Practice self-care. It sounds very cliched, but self-care is a very important tool for avoiding a crisis in the divorce arena. If you are feeling positive about yourself and have surrounded yourself with positive and uplifting professionals and friends, you will be less likely to make decisions that go against your self-interest.