Divorce is often a long, complicated process. Between warring spouses, opposing counsel, judges, negotiations, and a nearly endless parade of paperwork, there are a lot of moving parts to contend with. With so much to juggle, it’s easy to get tripped up. Keeping that in mind, here are eight common mistakes men make in divorce.
Some are practical in nature. Others involve simple things like self-care that too often get missed along the way.
1. Keeping It To Yourself
In most cases, ending a marriage is a turbulent, emotional time. During the ups and downs, you need a support system. One of the most common mistakes men make in divorce is keeping it to themselves and not telling people what’s going on.
Maybe there’s shame involved or you feel like a failure because your marriage didn’t work out. You don’t need to broadcast your divorce, but it’s important to tell your friends and family. If they truly care about you, they’ll be there when you need it. That’s a huge boost in a tough time.
2. Bottling Up
Similar to keeping it from loved ones, another one of the common mistakes men make in divorce is bottling up their emotions. Men often feel they have to remain stoic and silent. This frequently becomes a negative influence on overall mental and emotional health.
Though your instinct may be to play things close to the vest, sharing with friends or family members often helps alleviate some of the inner turmoil. You don’t need to post every thought you have on Facebook—in fact, maybe stay off social media during the divorce—but it’s nice to have people to confide in. You may even want to look into seeing a therapist. Professionals offer insight and advice that’s beneficial in trying times.
3. Ignoring Finances
This should come as no surprise, but divorce is expensive. And one of the frequent mistakes men make in divorce is ignoring finances. It costs money to file or respond, and then there are attorney’s fees. When preparing for divorce, put money aside so unexpected expenses don’t blindside you.
Beyond that, you also have many other factors to consider. Keep an eye on joint bank accounts or credit cards. Make moves to establish your own individual accounts. If you’re on your spouse’s health insurance, you need to find your own coverage. Document all of your assets and debts. This includes retirement, loans, life insurance, and investments. You have to submit this to the court anyway, so having it ready in advance saves time. It also gives you a clear picture of what you have. Too often, men think they have a handle on what they make and spend, only to have that come back and bite them.
4. Not Taking Care Of Yourself
One huge area that too often goes overlooked is taking care of yourself. It seems so simple and routine, but one of the most common mistakes men make during divorce is to stop looking after their health and wellbeing. We talked about the mental and emotional side of things, but physical health is important as well.
Depression often factors into divorce, and too often men turn to alcohol or drugs to cope. Less extreme, it’s still easy to fall into a routine of poor eating habits, ignoring nutrition, or skipping the gym. These choices can have lasting consequences, but even in the best circumstances, health often takes a hit. Taking measures to maintain your health will pay off in the long run.
5. Being Too Passive
Don’t be too passive in the divorce process. You may want to get this over and done with as quickly as possible. That makes sense. It’s easy to simply agree to everything your spouse proposes and move on. After all, it cuts down conflict and speeds things up. But that can damage your case and harm your best interests.
One of the common mistakes men make in divorce is not considering what they want or, most importantly, need. Wanting to finish things quickly is fine, but not when it’s detrimental moving forward. The division of property, spousal support, and child custody all have a huge impact on your future. Take the time to figure out what you want and fight for it when necessary.
6. Arguing About Every Asset
The flipside of that coin is arguing about everything. You may not want your ex to get anything and fight every step of the way. After years of marriage, you’re bound to have legitimate disputes. But some people fight out of spite or revenge. This gets expensive, wastes everybody’s time, and leads to more conflict and trouble than necessary.
In general, the court divides property in an equitable fashion. It may skew one way or another, but overall, the scales rarely tip severely to one side. Also, fighting about every individual item gets exhausting. You have way more important things to spend your energy on. Again, think about what you truly want and truly need. Pick your battles where they’re most important.
7. Moving Out
If your marriage is broken beyond hope of repair, it makes logical sense to move out of a shared home. Unfortunately, this is one of the frequent mistakes men make during divorce. While it seems like a natural choice, it can damage child custody cases, affect property and debt division, and possibly establish a negative precedent for spousal support.
Moving out may create the perception, true or not, that you’re abandoning your kids. Or that you’re not a dedicated parent, even if that’s far from reality. Leaving the house to your ex often results in larger spousal support payment and impacts the division of property. You can even wind up paying bills when you no longer live there. By the time divorce rolls around, many couples live apart, but it’s key to consider the consequences.
8. Not Consulting An Attorney
It’s now easier than ever to handle a divorce yourself. You can go online, download the forms, fill them out, and pay the fees with a minimum of fuss. This DIY approach works great in some cases, usually for shorter marriages with no kids and little shared property. Still, even in simple situations, it’s important to at least consult an experienced divorce attorney.
A lawyer familiar with divorce and family law can advise you in many areas. They can tell you where you stand on child custody, spousal support, and the division of property. In general, a professional attorney can guide you towards an optimal outcome. One of the common mistake men make in divorce is thinking they don’t need help. It puts you at an even greater disadvantage if your spouse has an attorney and you don’t.
Divorce is a complex process with any number of roadblocks and problems that pop up. This list represents just a few common mistakes men make in divorce. Much of your future hinges on this, and it’s important to spend the time and effort to get it right.
If you have questions about divorce, contact Goldberg Jones at our Portland office.