No matter what the circumstances, or how amicable the divorce might be, the divorce process is stressful. Though a lot of it is out of your control, your behavior before, during, and after your divorce can help determine how smooth the process goes, at least from the emotional standpoint. It can also help ensure that you heal and recover quicker post-divorce. The last thing you want to do is increase any conflict during your divorce, so we compiled a list of exactly what not to do during a divorce to help make the process a little easier.
Read on for ten things not to do during your divorce and after.
Don't Disregard Your Children's Feelings
Never ignore your child's feelings or allow yourself to believe that your children don’t need you in their lives. As difficult as dealing with a child that's angry about divorce is, you should never let yourself get to the point that seeing your children becomes more painful than not seeing them. The long-term consequences and negative impact of not having their parent in their lives outweighs the emotional pain you feel temporarily. Always make an effort to visit and spend time with your children and listen to their feelings. "Children, everyone agrees, should not be forced to take sides in a divorce," says Fredric Neuman, M.D.
Don't Mix Business and Emotion
Negotiation and mediation are about settling the business end of the marriage. Try to put your emotions aside and handle the business aspect of your divorce separately. You can make the whole process easier by keeping your emotions in check and acting reasonably during settlement negotiations. Remember: The longer it drags on, the more you'll be paying in attorney fees.
Don't Communicate With Hostility
Unless the relationship is abusive, if you have children together, you should always be willing to communicate in a civil and respectful way with your ex. If your ex reaches out to you via a phone call, email, or in person with a need to discuss an issue pertaining to your divorce and marriage, respond in a neutral and respectful way. "Needless to say, there are likely to be recriminations and bitterness. It is normal for both people to be angry; but, as much as possible, the couple should strive to continue talking to each other," Neuman says. Keeping any conflict to a minimum will make the process easier.
Avoid Assigning Blame
Don't blame or cause anyone else to feel shame. Divorce is hard on everyone involved, so be as conscientious to others' feelings as you are to your own. "From a practical perspective, who is at fault for the demise of the marriage is of practically no importance in shaping the outcome of divorces," Sam Margulies Ph.D.
Never Make Assumptions
It's important to always think for yourself and never make assumptions. Don’t assume your attorney has you covered legally, don’t assume the judge is going to rule in your favor, don’t assume your ex is angry and out to destroy you. Know the facts and base your actions on them.
Try Not To Be Unrealistic
Set realistic expectations. You may expect your ex to be civil and respectful, but if it's a particularly hostile situation or it's just their personality to be aggressive and angry, the process might not be as civil as you would have hoped. Make sure not to be unrealistic with what you expect so that you're better able to deal with what actually happens.
Don't Act Blameless
Don't avoid blame in mutual disagreements. Make sure you're honest with yourself about what happened in your marriage. If you're culpable in any way, own it and avoid placing all the blame on your ex. "Divorce is about the failure of a relationship in which at least one partner, but usually both, are disappointed in the behavior of the other," says Margulies.
Never Pass up the Opportunity To Forgive
Moving on from divorce can be just as challenging as the divorce process itself, so make it a little easier on yourself and forgive where you can. Holding on to negative feelings towards your ex-spouse will make it harder to let go and start over yourself, so assuming the divorce process ended somewhat amicably, forgive and let yourself move on.