Take Control Blog

11 Tips for Avoiding a Disastrous and Damaging Divorce

If you are there already, and you know that your marriage has to end, there are things you can do to make a divorce less disastrous.  They range from the simplest of things to aspects you may not have even considered.

Here are 11 tips for avoiding a disastrous and damaging divorce from our experts in the fields of matrimonial law, family counseling and financial planning:

  1. Don’t Rush.  Fools rush in. Whether you fell in love quickly—and look how well that turned out for you—or not, there is usually no rational reason to rush the end of a marriage.  Taking your time to weigh all your options and make the right decisions could impact not just your well-being now, but also for years to come.
  2. Make Sure You Fully Understand the Consequences.  You are going to have to live with this decision, make sure you know what the ramifications are through each step.  Ask questions.  Get informed.
  3. Agree on the Type of Divorce.  There is more than one way to get divorced.  Litigated—where each of you gets an attorney—is the most often thought of, but not the only alternative.  Self-filing, mediated and collaborative are each alternatives.  And these alternatives could save you money, time and your relationship post-divorce.  If at all possible, you and your spouse should talk about the options and agree on the best one for situation.
  4. Choose an Attorney Wisely.  If you need or want an attorney, don’t pick the wrong one. It is not enough to just open the Yellow Pages, close your eyes and point to a name.  It is not enough to call that number from the billboard or the radio commercial.  Not all attorneys are created equal and some might be brilliant litigators, but that may not be what you need.  The best thing to do interview a couple before you pay that retainer and get a feel for how they fit your specific needs.
  5. Get a Team.  Your attorney might not be the best person to give you advice on the sale of your home or splitting your retirement assets.  In many divorce cases, it is good to also get the advice of a real estate agent and a financial planner so that the best settlement can be reached for everyone.
  6. Don’t settle.  Neither more than you can pay nor less than you deserve is good. Most divorces are not litigated for everything, but rather end in a settlement outside the courtroom.  Make sure that you can afford what you are paying or, conversely, that you can live with what you are getting.  This is the number one thing that lands divorced couples back in court.
  7. Don’t Act Out of Anger.  It is easy to slip into the mindset of punishing the soon-to-be ex-spouse.  But rash, kneejerk decisions made to exact revenge never turn out right for the long-term future.
  8. Don’t Take Advice From Your Plumber or Mechanic.  Everybody’s got an opinion, right?  Once you start talking about your settlement details with friends and others, people will undoubtedly say “you should have done this” or “so and so got more.”  Don’t listen.  Not every divorce is the same and you need to trust the professionals who are helping you with yours.
  9. Pick Your Battles.  You may not want to fight over everything.  Have a list of priorities and remember that it is more important to keep your principles than it is to keep “stuff”.
  10. Avoid a Trial.  While you may think it is best for a judge to make all the decisions after he or she has heard both cases, that decision is binding.  It is a better option in most cases to reach a settlement without the necessity of a judge.  This also gives you and your spouse more control over the details.
  11. Get Out of Your Head.  Divorce is one of the most emotionally and mentally stressful things you will ever do.  If you can, get professional counseling to deal with those feelings and you will likely have a less chaotic aftermath.

Divorce is too often hard and painful.  But it doesn’t have to be a disaster.  With these 11 easy tips, you can lessen the most damaging effects of divorce—and move on with your life faster and healthier.