Divorce Do’s and Don’ts
Divorce can be a chaotic and emotional time. As such, you may find yourself considering and doing things that you would not normally do. The most devoted of parents have been known to put their children in the middle of the conflict. Often times you will hear somebody say, “I just don’t know this person anymore” about someone currently in the process of a divorce. They are right. Most people do go through some sort of metamorphosis during their divorce. People tend to be much more emotional and rash in their decision-making. It is part of the process that we must watch for very carefully. Accordingly, remember to think before you act. Consider what will be the effect of today’s action tomorrow?
Under normal circumstances, most people would never need to think about the following. However during your divorce, if you can follow these guidelines, you will find that you behaved in a calm and rational way. Not only can you be proud of your behavior, but also you will find that things will be easier for your family in the long run.
The “Legal” Do’s for Divorce
- Do use an experienced matrimonial attorney who will have the needed experience and knowledge of the law and the situation to make sure that your interests are protected.
- Do be honest and up front. Tell your attorney everything.
- Do be practical and flexible. Finding a reasonable middle ground often results in a quicker and easier conclusion in divorce cases.
- Do document everything that you might think will be important during the divorce process. Also consider keeping a journal of important dates and events if your attorney advises you to do it.
- Do use good business sense when deciding what to fight about and at what cost should you fight for it.
The “Legal” Don’ts for Divorce
- Don’t ever represent yourself. Even experienced attorneys going through a divorce use an attorney.
- Don’t get greedy. In the end, it really will not matter if it was you, or your spouse, that initially wanted the divorce. You will be judged by the manner in which you comport yourself during the divorce.
- Don’t let your friends tell you what to do or how to do it. Though they may have good intentions listen to your attorney. Your attorney knows the law – your friends do not.
- Don’t pay your support late.
- Don’t pick up your children for visits if have been drinking or have taken drugs.
- Don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars in attorney fees fighting over a $150 piece of furniture
Below are some other do’s and don’ts that seem like common sense; however during a divorce common sense often goes out the window.
The “Emotional” Don’ts for Divorce
- Don’t discuss the details of the divorce with your children. They are not equipped to handle the emotional strain for your benefit.
- Don’t make promises to the children that you cannot keep.
- Don’t make your children feel like a “guest” in your new home.
- Don’t put your children in the middle of your divorce. The divorce is between you and your spouse. Your children most likely do not want the divorce to happen.
- Don’t put your spouse down in front of the children. Remember, that your children are half you and half your spouse. When you insult your spouse to your children, you insult your child too.
- Don’t question the children regarding the activities of your (ex) spouse.
- Don’t refer to your visits with your children as “your time” and plan activities only around your schedule.
- Don’t rehash events that have happened in the past, you can’t change what has already ready happened
- Don’t use the children as messengers. This puts them right in the middle. Not only are you risking their love and affection, you are also relying upon the child to get the message to your spouse correctly and in the manner you meant it.
- Don’t use your children as a bargaining chip during the settlement process.
- Don’t stop the children from seeing the other parent because he or she owes you money.
The “Emotional” Do’s for Divorce
- Do get professional help if you need it to cope with your divorce.
- Do make the children feel that your new home is also their home. That should include whatever chores they were responsible for at your prior home they should also be responsible for at your new home.
- Do remember that the children have a social life. They have soccer, birthday parties and friends. It is important that their social life be as normal as possible. They are not the ones who are divorcing, you are. So let them maintain a normal social calendar.
- Do show respect towards your spouse in front of the children.
- Do make sure that the children know they are not the reason for the divorce.
Every kid has a right to be healthy, happy and safe: however, this can be challenging at a time when mom and dad are splitting up. Below are some perspectives parents should never forget — and kids should never let them forget – during a time when the family is in the midst of a divorce.
Have any questions about this topic, please call me 202-872-0400.
Geoffrey S. Platnick
Shareholder – Family Law Attorney
Washington, DC Office
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.
730 12th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
Potomac, MD Office
Shulman, Rogers, Gandal, Pordy & Ecker, P.A.
12505 Park Potomac Avenue, 6th Floor
Potomac, Maryland 20854
T 301.231.0927 | F 301.230.2891
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