20 Things Men Need to Watch Out For In Divorce
Men are higher risk for making certain mistakes in their divorce. What pitfalls should you be on the watch for? Check out this list of top 20 men’s divorce mistakes — with quick tips on how to avoid them!
1. Allowing you spouse to control the divorce
When divorce gets tough, it can be tempting to simply check out and hand over control to your ex. This is a recipe for divorce disaster, especially when it comes to issues like child custody and alimony. When your ex is the one in the driver’s seat, the terms offered to you might be subpar at best. This creates an uphill battle the entire way, making divorce cost more and take much longer.
2. Not engaging in divorce
If you blindly “yes” your ex just to get the divorce over with or fail to respond to due dates on your divorce paperwork and/or court motions, don’t be surprised when the fine print of your divorce comes back to bite you with unfair terms and lack of access to your kids. You need to be involved in your divorce, even when it’s frustrating or painful.
While no one wants to prolong the financial or psychological stress of divorce, operating from an “I just want it to be over” mentality will likely cause regrets. Poorly constructed financial settlements can take their toll and unfair custody or support arrangements can be difficult to modify.
3. Choosing the wrong approach/method of divorce
Almost every divorce can partly or entirely resolved out of court through low conflict methods (i.e., mediation). Court litigated divorces tend to be adversarial, taking even the most basic of divorce issues and turning them into high conflict stalemates. Bottomline: don’t assume that your divorce is bound for court litigation. Talk to your attorney about how to use low conflict methods to speed up your divorce and keep costs low.
4. Rushing to divorce too quickly — without taking stock
Some men file for divorce as a knee jerk emotional reaction. Maybe you found out your spouse cheated or perhaps there was one last big blow out fight. Filing for divorce in the heat of the moment can backfire on you by denying you important time to prepare and get your strategy together. You want to have space to think about your living situation during your separation, your access to your kids, and how you will financially adjust to being separated and divorced. Some decisions may take negotiation, such as time with your children. When divorce is filed for in the aftermath of explosive emotions, it may be difficult to communicate productively with your ex. Pro tip: Talk to an attorney before you file to understand the big picture and choose the best filing date.
5. Trying to DIY their divorce
A do-it-yourself divorce may seem like the ultimate way to save money. However, the truth is the DIY approach to divorce can spell divorce disaster as you leave yourself open to mistakes and misinterpretations as you try to figure out the law on your own.
6. Thinking that a general attorney can do their divorce
Men need a family law attorney who is experienced in the issues that matter most to them, with the proven experience to guide them toward their goals. You want someone who is going to explain your rights and options and help you choose the best path forward. Your brother’s tax attorney may be well-meaning, but they don’t have the specialized knowledge about family law that is critical in your matter. Family law is constantly changing; family law attorneys are up to date on the latest changes, general/business/civil attorneys are most likely not.
7. Not being straight with their attorney
Some men may let shame or fear get in the way of sharing important information with their attorney. In turn, this sets up the attorney for getting blindsided by the other side. If there are sensitive issues present in your situation — from STDs to domestic violence — share this information with your attorney. This may be extremely pertinent to decisions made in your divorce and your attorney must be prepared. The same goes for financial disclosures or any other key facts about your situation. If the information is uncomfortable or even shocking, don’t worry. Your attorney has seen it all.
8. Thinking that divorce can deliver revenge
You may want to see your wife get nothing in the divorce because you simply want revenge. You may feel so betrayed that you have the urge to simply walk away and let your spouse have everything, including your children. While these feelings are reasonable and common, you must avoid acting on them. Any extreme position that you take now will undoubtedly hurt you in the future.
9. Not being proactive with their attorney
As you interview different family law attorneys and firms, be on the lookout for attorneys who sugar-coat your chances of success by making unreasonable promises. If a lawyer promises you a speedy divorce and full custody before you have given them any substantial documentation or details, consider that a red flag. To avoid this trap, look to retain a divorce lawyer who will candidly review your options and provide a realistic probability of success based only on the unique facts of your case.
Bottom line, watch out for attorneys who seem to be over-promising. They probably are and you may end up paying for this with a divorce settlement that is far from your desired outcome.
10. Choosing the wrong grounds for divorce
As crazy as this may sound, checking a single box in all the dozens of pieces of paper you need to go through as you file for divorce could set your divorce on a trajectory for being a costly battle — or the box you check off could help you ease and lower conflict.
It all has to do with what you choose as your grounds for divorce. When you file legal paperwork to file for divorce in your state, you are required to state your grounds for divorce, or the reason for the divorce. There will be a checklist with all the available legal grounds to choose from in your state. Most states offer a choice between what are known as fault grounds for the divorce and no fault grounds.
Fault grounds are legal reasons for a divorce in which one spouse was to blame or at fault for the divorce. Some common fault grounds are adultery or extreme cruelty. The wording and variety can differ by state.
The other choice is filing on a no-fault ground. When you look at these check boxes, you will probably see a choice like irreconcilable differences, which simply means the marriage has irretrievably broken down. There are no specific details required for this ground.
So, your spouse cheated on you and that is what led you to file for divorce, so you should simply check adultery as your ground, and keep going through the paperwork, right?
Not so fast. Just because your spouse really was at fault for your marital demise doesn’t necessarily mean that adultery should be the grounds for your divorce. Choosing a fault ground can immediately spike conflict as the spouse becomes defensive about being assigned blame. You will also need to provide evidence of the fault ground, which can require hiring a costly private investigator, adding countless thousands of dollars to your divorce bill. What does this get you in the end? Not much. In most states, there are few to no repercussions for cheating.
Even when there is absolutely fault in your divorce, filing on a no fault grounds could still be to your benefit. It reduces conflict as no blame is assigned. There is nothing to prove, so you save time and money gathering additional evidence. Important note: If something did happen where your spouse “dissipated marital assets” by spending lavish sums of marital income on their paramour, this can be presented to the court regardless of what ground the divorce was filed under.
11. Spying on their spouse to ‘get proof’ of adultery or other wrongdoings
Hiring a Private Investigator is one thing, but when you take snooping on your spouse into your own hands, be aware that you are putting yourself at risk for allegations of everything from stalking to harassment. Placing GPS trackers on your spouse’s car, planting hidden videos in the home, or breaking into password protected private accounts may land you in legal hot water more than it gives you any “gotcha” information on your spouse. Think twice before engaging in snooping or spying of any kind.
12. Making poor decisions about the house
Unless you are in an incredibly hostile situation, do not volunteer to move out of the marital home. Just because your spouse asks or even demands that you leave, does not mean you are obligated to move out. Your house is your family home, and remaining there ensures that you continue to have frequent and continued contact with your kids on a day-to-day basis.
You staying in the home with your kids can provide them a measure of stability in what will undoubtedly become more and more uncertain for them moving forward. Leaving the home also gives your spouse more control oven when, where and how you spend time with your children because she can now dictate when you have parenting time, when you pick them up and when they should be returned.
If your situation with your spouse is so uncomfortable or if you are fighting so much that it is effecting your children it may be in their best interests to diffuse the situation. But, if you do move out, it is important that you insist on a written, strong and detailed custody and parenting time plan so that there is no confusion or upper hand for either of you when it comes to the kids.
13. Trying to hide money in divorce
You probably don’t like the idea of dividing assets and paying support – especially if you feel betrayed and abandoned. But indulging in “creative accounting” in order to hide assets will give you a bad reputation in family court. Judges will not look favorably upon you if you’re found to be lying. Nor will your ex, with whom you have to co-parent. Although the stereotype of the gold-digging ex-wife abounds, the truth is, most women don’t use alimony and child support to fund their shopping sprees; they use this money to provide a stable home life for their children.
14. Assuming that women always get custody
Many men go into child custody talks with the preconceived notion that family courts always favor the mother. It can be a surprise for men to find out their state’s family law is written in gender-neutral language. There is nothing in the law that states that a child living with a mother is preferable to the child living with a father.
In any child custody agreement, the best interests of the child must come first. In practice, this means creating child custody orders that make the child’s safety and emotional and physical stability the priority. It can be tempting to put your energy into worrying about whether you will experience prejudice in your custody matter. Instead, start thinking about what is truly best for your child and start working with your attorney to develop positive custody solutions.
15. Thinking that there is just one type of custody
Men may also go into custody negotiations demanding “full custody” of their children. Unless there is a rare exception where one parent is unable to participate in the children’s lives, the courts views it in the best interests of the child to have shared time with parents whenever possible. Demanding full custody is often a trigger for a custody battle. Instead, think about how to create a shared plan that fits your schedules and maximizes time with your children.
16. Dragging the kids into the middle of your divorce
Women can engage in this behavior just as much as men, but you can still do your part to protect your kids by not arguing with your spouse in front of them. Studies show that it’s the vitriol and conflict between parents that negatively impacts children, not the divorce itself. Keep conflict to a minimum by taking steps like…counting to 10 and not sending that angry text; being on time for drop off and pick up; and in general, treating your new co-parenting relationship with your ex as a businesslike arrangement in which you are both courteous and respectful to each other. You may need to model this behavior to your ex, but when the focus is making your children feel loved and secured, usually even a bitter ex can come around and act civilly.
On the other hand, you also want to be on the lookout for signs of parental alienation. Is your ex keeping the kids from you, badmouthing you in front of the kids, fighting with you all the time in front of them, or using them to spy on you when it’s your turn for custody? These can point to your ex alienating, or “brainwashing” the kids against you. Immediately share any concerns of this kind with your attorney. Legal remedies can take place in these situations, including adjustments to parenting time.
17. Fighting over every item in divorce
Adopting a “scorched-earth” approach where you refuse to negotiate with your spouse will bring you nothing but an elevated stress level and mounting legal bills. Insisting on your day in court to duke it out will drag your divorce on for possibly years and will empty your pockets.
18. Flaunting a new girlfriend/significant other
Whether a your new romantic partner was the trigger for your divorce, or you met your new flame after you separated, take heed: making your spouse feel like they have been been traded in for a newer model, or that your new partner is going to replace your kids’ mother, could turn a relatively amicable divorce into an ugly, expensive one.
19. Letting yourself get manipulated
If your spouse is an emotional terrorist, you must stand your ground. Giving manipulative people what they want doesn’t work – at least for very long. Why? Because getting the custody arrangement or financial settlement they demand isn’t really what they’re after. Staying psychologically entangled with you is. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that anything you do will stop her from bad-mouthing you to the children, or from taking you back to court. It’s imperative that you stand up for yourself and set your boundaries. Succumbing to her drama will only show her that she can control your life.
20. Not acknowledging the emotional toll of divorce
Your self care matters. Make a list of things you enjoy doing and try to work in one or two of those activities a week, such as shooting hoops with friends or working on a hobby or project. Enjoyable tasks will help to ground you in the understanding that there is life after divorce. Don’t engage in unnecessary bickering with your spouse. These fights are almost never worth having. Be the bigger person by not engaging. When communicating with a spouse is necessary, try sticking to neutral text messages to reduce risk for conflict.
Keep your mind and body healthy by doing your best to get adequate sleep and exercise. Don’t drink and/or drug-induce your way through your issues. You need a clear head and steady emotions. Drinking or drug use can impact certain aspects of divorce, including child custody. Seeing a therapist can teach you valuable emotional coping skills.
Want to learn more secrets and get a taste of our expert-led Men’s Divorce Bootcamp? Watch our FREE webinar on How to Avoid Costly Mistakes in Divorce. Our short and to-the-point webinars give you tactical tips you can immediately put into practice to save you time, money and stress. Start watching now.