The Top 10 Mistakes Men Make In Divorce
Men tend to make certain mistakes in divorce because they believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness. But it’s crucial to manage emotions and avoid knee-jerk reactions when dismantling a family and shared property. Below are the top 10 mistakes divorcing men should avoid at all costs.
1. Anger outbursts. Because our culture pressures men to be “tough,” they tend to mask fear and sadness with anger. Feeling justified to unload on your ex? Be careful! Explosive outbursts, especially in front of the kids, can jeopardize your child custody outcome.
2. Withholding child support. Divorce is an inherently destabilizing process and one way to feel in control is to use child support as leverage or punishment: threatening to reduce child support if you don’t get your way; sending the check late or for less than the full amount; or withholding it altogether. Not only does playing games with child support hurt your children, but you can also end up paying sanctions and interest for missed support payments.
3. Going for revenge. It may feel safer to seek revenge rather than experience grief and fear. But trying to destroy your ex won’t change the past; it will only drain finances, create a high-conflict divorce, and hurt your children.
4. Believing judges favor mothers. Many men have a misconception that mothers “always” get primary custody. While this may have been then norm in the past, it’s not any longer. Judges want children to have equal access to both parents. So don’t make the mistake of assuming you won’t get 50-50 custody. If you want it, ask for it.
5. Telling people your ex is crazy. Invalidating your ex by telling others she’s “crazy” keeps you from owning your part in the marriage’s unraveling, and the drama in the divorce. Your opinions will likely travel back to your ex, who may respond with accusations towards you. Worse, your harsh words may reach your kids’ ears. You don’t have to like your former spouse, but it’s important to man up and treat her with respect.
6. Making threats. Trying to control your ex with repeated threats is a form of emotional abuse. When you do this, you make effective communication all but impossible and you create an unsafe atmosphere for your ex, whose job is to make your children feel safe. If you value your kids’ well-being, end the reign of terror and start communicating appropriately.
7. Avoiding parenting duties that your ex handled. If you were the primary breadwinner while your ex stayed home with the children, you need to step up your game – especially if you want 50-50 custody. This may mean adjusting your work schedule to drive carpool, ferry kids to the pediatrician, and volunteer at school.
8. Flaunting your new partner before your divorce is final. If you must boast of your new, hot paramour, confide only in your most discreet friends. Blowing up your social media feed with PDA photos, or showcasing your new love at public events, before the divorce is final, may anger your STBX and turn an amicable divorce into an ugly – and expensive – one.
9. Trying to replace your kids’ mom with your new partner. Your kids need time to adjust to this person. Pressuring them to get close to your new partner, or acting as if this person is a replacement for their other parent, is unfair to your child. Your kids are struggling to adjust to all the changes in their lives and may feel burdened by divided loyalties. They need reassurance that you will support their relationship with their mom, not undermine it.
10. Using electronic communication as a weapon. Unloading over emails and texts will keep you and your ex engaged in battle. Accepting that you can’t control your ex’s decisions, or change her personality, is the only way you – and your children — will ever have any peace.