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10 Common Divorce Mistakes

There is inevitably a lot of panic and confusion when facing divorce and there are numerous thoughts and actions that can change the trajectory of your process. Read about some of the most common pitfalls below.

1. Not cutting financial ties – you can be legally divorced and in possession of your decree absolute but if you don’t have a court stamped financial order you are still entangled financially with your ex partner. This means one or other of you can make a financial claim against the other and leaves your finances vulnerable to attack despite you thinking all is done and dusted. No matter how civil your situation, it is vitally important to draw a clear line under any and all joint finances. Aim for a clean break to legally split up your assets so you know where you stand, leaving you able to make effective plans for your future.

2. Not future proofing your finances – thinking about a future where you need to be in control of finances and all your costs alone can be scary but it does not pay to ignore what that means in reality. Plan, plan, plan. What are your monthly outgoings likely to be, what is your income, what do you need to live off? All these questions must be answered in order to be able to negotiate for a fair divorce settlement. Go in too low and you might be left struggling financially in the future and without options to renegotiate. Go in too high and you could end up in a bitterly expensive legal battle fighting for something that is unreasonable and not actually needed. Don’t ignore pensions, as opposed to a financial asset which is split and the value shared immediately they are actually classed as income and could be of huge value to you in the future. At the very least do your due diligence and speak to a financial advisor who understands divorce to ascertain whether the pension is best split or left to leverage against something else that is more important to you.

3. Relying on friends & family for advice – your loved ones care and will always have your best interests at heart, but are they offering you the best advice? Are they basing their advice on what happened to them, their friend or their neighbour’s daughter’s sister? Getting lots of conflicting information can make the path forward even harder to find. You don't want to feel like you have to please family by doing what they have suggested or pushing for things you don’t feel strongly about just to keep friends on side. Friends and family are a vital source of emotional support but best to ensure you have specialist advice from a lawyer and financial advisor when it comes to the nitty gritty. It will come at a cost but it’s a cost well spent to give you clarity in order to make decisions.

4. Sharing the divorce with your children – divorce is such an emotional time and like all transitions people cope very differently, this includes your children. Their age, quality of relationships with both parents, gender and personality will all impact how they deal with something that, let’s face it, is not their fault and not their creation. No matter how much you want to drag their other parent through the mud it is so important for your children’s wellbeing that you keep your mouth shut. They don’t need to know if one or other of you have had an affair or to feel blame coming from either of you. They need to feel loved by both parents, able to stay connected to both parents and to have enough age appropriate information so they aren’t left questioning what is happening. They are not your emotional backstop, there to cheer you through, nor are they pawns to be used in the divorce. They will take your lead and follow your example so do the very best you can to help them learn that life isn’t perfect but that new beginnings and change are an opportunity for growth and help them see that their new future is also bright.

5. Underestimating your ex partner – how was your marriage? Was it equal and respectful and open and honest? Truly? If not then it is highly unlikely that the divorce will be. Sadly divorce really can bring out people’s true colours and you might get a shock that your ex partner isn’t making things easy. It's also a waste of time to believe that you can change your ex partner or that they will suddenly see the light and think the same way you do. If your ex partner is unresponsive, difficult or unreasonable then the best use of your energy is to better understand the dynamic and use that knowledge to shift the way you engage with them. I have tools and techniques that I can share with you to support this change.

6. Getting remarried before finalising your financial order – it's wonderful if you’re in a position to be considering remarriage but if you have not agreed your financial order prior to your next marriage you may lose the right to apply for one. It’s worth pointing out that new relationships are likely to complicate ongoing divorce proceedings so be mindful of what you share with your ex partner if still trying to extricate yourself.

7. Believing in divorce justice as opposed to divorce law – there is no such thing as divorce justice, the legal system is not equipped to deliver what you believe you deserve or what you perceive is fair. Nor is it interested in what got you here, whether that be infidelity or sadly even abuse. If you approach your divorce from a position entrenched in bitterness and a desire for revenge it’s likely that it will be a long and expensive process. It's far better to work on reframing these dominating emotions to help you through your divorce and then start focusing on yourself and your new future.

8. Not asking yourself “Would I be happy for a judge to read this?” – when you communicate with your ex partner, your lawyer or anyone else involved in your divorce always do so as reasonably, rationally and respectfully. Asking yourself if you’d be happy for a judge to read your communications is a good way to tame any fiery correspondence that you might regret sending at a later date. The same goes for social media posts, if you think a judge might see them differently don’t post while your divorce is ongoing.

9. Going straight to court – putting major decisions about your life, finances and children in the hands of a judge who knows nothing about you or your family should be an absolute last resort. It's a risky strategy that is likely to be drawn out and expensive. Don’t assume you’ll get your way if you end up there. There are many different options available to you depending on your unique set of circumstances including mediation and arbitration. Be wary of any lawyer who pushes you down a court route without first exploring all possible alternative dispute resolution strategies.

10. Making decisions based on strong emotions – with so much going on you are likely to be feeling overwhelmed by it all and probably dominated by some fairly strong emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, humiliation or bitterness to name a few. This is all totally normal but until you’ve got a handle on those feelings it is not the right time for you to be making big decisions. When your emotions are leading your decisions you might find you make a decision only to U turn the next week, you might even struggle to make a decision in the first place. Neither of those are helpful in a divorce situation. In order to communicate effectively with you ex partner and your lawyer or mediator you need a clear head to be able to make rational decisions and communicate those effectively.

Working with me will ensure you feel more in control of your life and your divorce rather than it controlling you and everything you do. The way you start your divorce is often indicative of how the rest of the process goes so before you do anything I would suggest working with a coach to get your head clear and emotions managed, we can work with you to avoid falling foul of any of these common pitfalls.

Some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What type of divorce am I hoping for?

  • What type of relationship do I want with my ex partner after the divorce?

  • What can I do to try and ensure that is possible?

  • What is in my control?

If any of this has resonated with you please do get in touch to discuss your situation and to find out how coaching can help.


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