Common Mistakes in Divorce to Avoid

Divorce Mistake

Going through the divorce process? Our divorce lawyers in Toronto understand that it can be an overwhelming time for the entire family. Don’t let the feelings of guilt, anger or rejection drive you to take poorly thought actions or make irrational decisions. Remember, you still have a life after the divorce. Having practiced family law for many years, we’ve seen people make some of the most common mistakes in divorce that end up jeopardizing the outcome of the legal process. In fact, some of these mistakes can potentially have long-lasting effects on a person’s life.  Most parties who commit these common mistakes may experience prolonged financial and emotional damages. While we understand that the divorce process comes with its share of challenges, avoiding these top 10 divorce mistakes can help you to experience a smoother transition and avoid issues that impact your future for many years. In this article, we will go over the biggest mistakes made in divorce and even share tips on how to avoid them.

Divorce Mistake#1: Making major decisions before consulting with a divorce lawyer

Before making major decisions it is crucial that you consult with a divorce lawyer. The actions taken by a party during a separation can have significant implications on their legal rights. While a decision you want to make may not seem complicated, the implications can be significant down the road.

Divorce Mistake#2: Trying to make your own separation agreement without legal advice

This is another common mistake made by separated couples. Some couples think that they can simply download a separation agreement template online and make their own separation agreement. While it is true that in the simplest of cases this method may work, but this is rarely the case if you are dealing with issues relating to support, children and property. Separation agreements are routinely overturned on the basis that a party did not have legal advice or that the drafting was vague or incomplete.

Divorce Mistake#3: Vacating the matrimonial home without consulting with a lawyer

Unless your life is in danger, it is typically not wise to vacate the matrimonial home without consulting with a lawyer. Vacating the matrimonial home can have significant implications relating to child custody. In addition, vacating the matrimonial home can result in significant financial consequences in some cases.

Divorce Mistake#4: Relying on friends and family for legal advice

This is unfortunately very common. Parties assume that every divorce is the same. Relying on legal advice from your friends and family who may have gone through a divorce can lead to unrealistic expectations and inaccurate information. While friends and family are a great source for emotional support, they are not legal professionals.

Divorce Mistake#5: Involving the children in parental conflict

For parents, the first rule of divorce is to shield the children from the negative stuff.

Everyone can probably agree that keeping children out of the conflict of a divorce is common sense, but sometimes it’s easier said than done — especially if mom and dad are both still living in the same house.

In some cases, one or both parties may have a reason to be angry with their spouse. But take it outside, or wait a couple of hours or a couple of days to calm down before trying to have that conversation.

Just don’t do it in front of the children.

Children remember and those bad memories could also affect the child’s future relationships. It can definitely have an impact on them down the road — either positive or negative, depending on how the parents managed to handle the situation.

The second golden rule is not to bad-mouth the other spouse in front of the children.

One of our divorcing clients was shocked when his four-year-old son told him, “I hate you.” – the parent was convinced the sentiment was planted in the child’s head by the other parent.

Children are often confused by the animosity their parents show each other. They also sometimes feel obligated to choose sides — a position, children should not be put into.

Children aren’t able to deal with these types of issues. They’re innocent and they’re sponges and they pick up on everything around them. Even if they don’t react immediately, it can definitely have an impact on their mental health.

The third thing that parents should be aware of is the importance of maintaining a routine for the children. Studies point to the importance of keeping things as stable as possible for the children.

With each other, parents don’t have to be the best of friends, as long as they’re able to be civil to each other, maintain a routine for the children and provide a smooth transition of access. Children will benefit in the long run from seeing their parents maintain respect and civility. It also provides the children with a good example of how to resolve conflict in a healthy way.

In most cases, parents are able to be cordial enough to each other to work things out. But we’ve also seen the other side of things, where the nastiness dished out by one partner is too much to bear.

No matter how much you love your children, if your spouse is making it impossible to have a relationship with your children, there comes a breaking point, where some parents just gives up.

The first few months of any separation aren’t easy, but it usually does get better with time. Once the parents aren’t living together — and seeing each other every day — things do get easier. Time really does have a way of lessening the anger and animosity.

But until time has a chance to work its magic, it’s important for parents to keep conflict to a minimum and don’t expose the children to it.

Divorce Mistake#6: Not keeping a journal

Always keep a journal of what is happening during your separation. If your matter ends up in litigation, having a well preserved journal of what happened during separation will make it much easier when preparing your court documents.

Divorce Mistake#7: Giving cash to your spouse

If you are the support payor, do not give your spouse cash for support payments. All payments must be made using a traceable method. Cheque, email money transfers and other traceable methods are acceptable. If you pay by cash, assume that you have not made the required payment.

Divorce Mistake#8: Failure to make a budget and live within your means

Separated and divorced couples must come to terms with the fact that their living standard will not be the same as it was during the marriage.

Divorce Mistake#9: Not providing complete and accurate financial disclosure

This is a major issue. If you are going through a divorce you must provide complete and accurate financial disclosure to the other party. Failing to do so can result in significant court costs and cost you more in the long run.

Divorce Mistake#10: Letting emotions rule your actions

Yes, divorce is emotional. However, in order to resolve your case amicably and reduce the cost, it is important to not let your emotions take over negotiations. Battle of the egos have resulted in parties wasting thousands of dollars in drawn out court battles.

Divorce Mistake#11: Going Back to Dating Too Early

While you may be tempted to get back to the dating scene during your divorce, consider putting this off until your divorce is final. There are several reasons why being romantically involved with someone else during your divorce may work against you. First, your ex may use this new relationship as a reason to justify your failed marriage when negotiating certain issues during trial. Additionally, your ex may also decide to be unreasonable and refuse to cooperate after learning about your new relationship, which could make the divorce process even more difficult. If children are involved, the new relationship will make things even more complicated. Children need a lot more time to process a relationship breakdown, and bringing someone new into their lives will only create more confusion and uncertainty.

Divorce Mistake#12: Hiding Information From Your Lawyer

Family lawyers are entrusted to use whatever information they receive from their clients to fight for an outcome that is in the client’s best interests. However, if the lawyer is not given complete and accurate information by their client, it creates more harm than good. Keep in mind that your lawyer is not there to judge your life choices, so be honest no matter the issue. Provide all essential facts and answer queries in a clear and concise manner so that your divorce lawyer can build a strong case in your defence.

Divorce Mistake#13: Trying to Use Divorce as a Revenge

There are people who use the divorce process as a way to take revenge on their spouse, especially if they believe that they are to blame for the marriage breakdown. However, approaching the divorce process with this kind of mindset will only cause more harm. For starters, if you cause unnecessary delays in the divorce process by refusing to cooperate with the other party, you may end up paying more legal fees. The other negative impact of a lengthy divorce battle is the division it creates in the family. Children are usually the ones who are most affected. Using the divorce process for revenge leaves the person feeling more guilty and unsatisfied with whatever outcome they get. Revenge is such a fleeting goal which can never be realized. It is important to understand that you will have to live with the decisions made. Take full control of the process and be reasonable when negotiating with the other party.

Divorce Mistake#14: Getting Intimate with Your Spouse

When couples in the middle of divorce decide to resume an intimate relationship, it makes the entire legal process even more complicated. For starters, one person may be more serious about the relationship than the other, which could lead to disappointment. Additionally, the intimacy may cloud your judgement and make it harder for you to make decisions that protect your rights and interests. You may end up giving away your benefits simply because you are emotionally charged after sharing a bed with your ex. Unless you decide to get back together and address all your differences, don’t be tempted to resume an intimate relationship with your estranged spouse.
Divorce Mistake#15: Not Making Sure the Paperwork is Accurate

Don’t just assume that every paperwork filed by your lawyer is perfectly drafted. It’s important for you to review the paperwork shared by the lawyer, especially if it’s coming from the other party. Doing this will prevent you from signing a document that takes away your rights. Check to ensure that you understand what you’re getting into and that the agreement is based on how both parties agreed.

For more information about obtaining a divorce, please contact our Toronto divorce lawyer here.

NOTICE AND DISCLAIMER: The material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult with a family lawyer

Other Articles to Read
General Steps in Obtaining a Divorce
How to get a quick and cheap divorce in Ontario

Helpful Resources:

Divorce and Separation
Family Justice Services
Child Custody and Access
Child Support
Division or Equalization of Family Property
Treatment of a Matrimonial Home
Enforcement of Support Payments
Child Protection
Child Adoption