How to Ruin Your Divorce


Even when a divorce is amicable and undertaken by two reasonable, mature adults who still genuinely like one another, it can be difficult, complex, and bring out the worst in people. More often it is messy, bitter, and full of anguish, which makes the possibility of bad behavior by one or both spouses likely. However, even while in the throes of divorce trauma, it’s vitally important to understand what common behaviors are likely to make your divorce even worse.

Not all divorces are created equal. Divorce between people who have no assets or children, for example, will be less fraught than splitting up a 20-year union with kids and property and endless legal entanglements. Even so, there are some common mistakes that anyone who is considering divorcing can make.

Here are 7 ways to ruin your divorce:

Not Having Your Own Divorce Attorney

Perhaps you and your soon-to-be ex are in complete agreement about everything involved in your split and want to save money with a DIY divorce. Or maybe your spouse’s attorney has offered to take care of both sides of the process. This is a huge mistake. Divorce is, by definition, adversarial. Even if your situation seems straightforward, you absolutely need to have your own attorney, and as early in the process as possible. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on how to handle issues as they crop up, and will also make sure you are fairly treated in the settlement.

Being Too Nice

You may be the type of person who avoids conflict at all costs. You may still respect your spouse and want to end things fairly. While an amicable split is always preferable to an all-out war, it’s possible to be too nice during a divorce, and end up financially screwed. The fact is, your spouse is not going to go out of his or her way to protect you no matter how good of a person they are. You must have the full picture, be legally represented, and be ready to take everything you are entitled to. You don’t have to be mean about it, but do be smart.

Letting Your Rage Out

Many divorces are ugly and may involve as much anger as sadness and regret. This is normal, of course, but the problems arise when you can’t control the way that anger is expressed. Arguments are normal, but be very careful about crossing the line into verbal abuse and threatening language. Threats against your spouse can not only cost you custody of your children, but they can potentially land you in jail as well. Find a healthier way to channel your rage or risk shooting yourself in the foot.

Hiding Money

Money is a major source of contention in divorce and, especially in the beginning of the process, the temptation to stash away as much money as possible can be strong. Don’t do it. Regardless of whether you stuff it in your mattress, hide it in your office, or open up a new, private account that you “forget” to mention in court, the likelihood that you will be caught is high, and will brand you a liar. Once the court sees you as untrustworthy, you are likely to pay the price in all aspects of the settlement.

Abusing Social Media

These days we put our entire lives on social media like Facebook and Twitter, and so it may seem like second nature to vent your spleen online during a divorce. Even if your accounts are locked down and private, though, resist the temptation to talk about the divorce—or even worse, post pictures of you whooping it up with your new lover—online until it’s over and the dust has settled. Everything you post may be used against you in court, so play it close to the chest online until it’s all over.

Moving Out

Moving out of the marital home is one of the biggest mistakes people make during a divorce. While it’s true that living under the same roof as your soon-to-be ex can be extremely unpleasant, when you move out, you give up certain rights that could affect the settlement. Even if you and your spouse agree that he or she should stay while you move on, doing so may tell the judge you are abandoning the family. Staying until there is a court order for one or the other of you to move is a wiser choice, uncomfortable as it may be.

Using the Children Against Your Spouse

Custody battles can be terrifying, especially since both parents generally love their kids and want to see them regularly. Too often, one spouse will hold the children over the head of the other by threatening to deny or limit visits or even try to prevent custody. This can be especially tough when one parent has fewer financial resources to support the kids or has to work long hours and/or travel. However, using the kids to get your way or take revenge is not only unfair to your spouse, but horribly damaging to your children as well. Good parents don’t make their kids into weapons, so leave them out of it and let the judge decide on a fair custody and visitation schedule.