A divorce is one of the most significant and emotional experiences that a person can go through. Not only are you going through this life-changing event, but you have concerns about your finances, moving, belongings, and most importantly your children. It is important not let this process turn you into a person that you don’t want to be—a person that you don’t even recognize. Be the better person, even if your soon to be ex-spouse is not. In the long run, you will be a healthier, happier person. The following list is a compilation of my suggestions of how NOT to act during a divorce.
10. Don’t go pro se…if your spouse has hired an attorney, you have a lot of assets, debt, or income, or if you have children. Too many things can go wrong. It is best that you have a skilled attorney that knows the law and can represent your interests and advocate in your behalf.
9. Don’t disparage your spouse or discuss your divorce on social media. You are hurting and this may seem like a great idea in the moment, but more than likely will come back to haunt you, especially if you have children. You really don’t want your disparaging posts read in open court.
8. Don’t flaunt a new partner. You are eager to put yourself back out there and excited when you find that someone. However, do NOT post pictures of you with that someone on social media, bring that person to court proceedings, and most definitely do NOT bring that person around your children during the divorce process. These activities will instantly turn the most civil divorce into the most contested, drawn out divorce imaginable. You do not want that. You can wait until the divorce is final. (And for your own personal health, you really should anyway, but that is another blog topic).
7. Don’t attempt to hide your assets. MORE than likely, they will be found. Your spouse’s attorney will hire an expert and the divorce process will get costly and drag on. You might even end up having to pay for your spouse’s fees and costs. It is not worth it and you end up paying anyway.
6. Don’t fight over the television. Stuff is stuff. Is it really worth it? Are you arguing over items because you are hurting? Are you really going to pay your lawyer $300.00 per hour over that item? You could have already replaced that item. Think about it. Relinquish your attachment to replaceable items and let the healing process begin.
5. My ex needs to “pay” for what happened. Divorce is painful. You may be hurting from abuse or an affair. However, for the most part, no fault divorces under Florida law are NOT designed to punish parties. Assets and liabilities are distributed equitably and alimony is awarded by need and ability to pay.
4. Don’t wipe out the bank accounts. You are not entitled to all of the money in your bank accounts. Even if your spouse did not earn the money in the accounts, you are not entitled to all of it. Florida follows what is called equitable distribution of the assets. All assets, and debts, will be divided up equitably. If you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement, the court will decide, and the court does a good job of making sure that is pretty equal. If you have wiped out all of the accounts and left your spouse with nothing, it will upset the judge and make you look bad, which might not go over so well for you at a future court date. If you feel like you need to protect money that is in your bank accounts, contact an attorney immediately to find out how to do so.
3. Don’t go into the marriage home after you have moved out and take things without your spouse knowing. Once you have officially separated, you and your spouse need to agree before you just go back into the home and take items. If you cannot agree, and it is an item that you need, you can talk to your attorney about how to get the item prior to a final judgement.
2. Don’t disparage your spouse in front of the children. No matter how hurt you are or what your spouse has done, even if it is illegal, the parent of your children. Nothing will ever change that. And your children will love their parent, as they should. If you think, even if rightly so, that your spouse is being a horrible parent, your children do not need to hear that from you. If you can’t say anything nice, just don’t say anything at all. One day, your children will figure it all out on their own. And they will love you and appreciate you more for it.
1. Don’t think of the children as “my” children and that your way is the only way. The children are both you and your spouse’s children. And the court is presumptively going to give you and your spouse shared parental responsibility. There is probably no way around that, unless you can prove that your spouse is somehow unfit. It is best that you figure out a way to get along and to find a way to raise the children together. Understand that in most cases, the court will order a parenting plan that puts both parents in the children’s lives. So get used to it. And read this article.