Do’s and Don’ts for a Divorce-Prone World
Kim Kardashian’s and Kris Humphries’ mere 72 days of wedded bliss may be a further sign of our world’s troubled nuptial times. Yet regardless of a marriage’s length or strife, experts say when it’s time to divorce there are both guidelines of what friends and family might – or might not – say to splitting couples and rules for proper dis-engagement among the parties themselves.
Kristin Tennat, author of the blog Halfway to Normal, shares these guidelines on how on-lookers can put divorce in perspective:
- Acknowledge the general experience of divorce for what it is: a very painful, sad process with effects that ripple out and lap up against people for years.
- Don’t over-simplify the situation or expect an easy explanation. In fact, don’t even ask "Why?" unless you’re invested enough to spend many hours listening to both sides. Everyone’s marriage, healthy or dying, is infinitely more complex than anyone else can imagine.
- Give both members of the couple the benefit of the doubt and compassion, rather than a sermon or advice. Treating someone who’s going through a divorce with respect and compassion need not imply that you are pro-divorce. It only implies that you are capable of withholding judgment and showing kindness to a fellow human being.
- Take what they’re going through seriously, while keeping in mind that divorce is not the end of the world. The messes we make can be redeemed, and turned into something good — even beautiful.
Suburban Chicago family law practitioner Debra Braselton believes there are also important guidelines for the divorcing couple in terms of how they can best handle themselves and their affairs as things unwind and unfold. She tells her clients to avoid at all costs the following activities, which she classifies as some of the “don’ts” of divorce:
- Don’t tell the children about the divorce or involve them in any way. “It is incredibly harmful for children to be put in the middle of their parents’ disputes,” says Braselton.
- Don’t clean out bank accounts or make other drastic financial moves. “If one spouse takes control of financial assets, the other spouse may seek a restraining order from the court that will result in all assets being frozen. Restraining order proceedings are very expensive to bring and defend. The better course of action is to maintain the status quo on financial matters until temporary orders for support and payment of expenses can be entered by agreement,” she says.
- Don’t respond with anger, violence or threats. Keep your temper and emotions in check. Braselton says, “You do not want to begin a divorce proceeding by being accused of domestic violence. If necessary, temporarily remove yourself from the home to give yourself time to calm down and think rationally.
- Don’t destroy or remove marital property or financial documents. Those actions only serve to increase suspicion and the costs of litigation.
- Don’t badmouth your spouse to friends, family or their boss. Adds Braselton, “You don’t make yourself look better by making your spouse look worse." People generally don’t want to become involved or take sides in your divorce.”
- Don’t minimize, dismiss or demean your spouse’s stated feelings. Don’t judge or tell your spouse why his/her feelings are wrong. Just listen.
- Don’t rush out and file first. “Filing first does not result in any legal advantage and may result in a detriment if you hire the first lawyer you see, rather than the most qualified,” advises Braselton.
You can also read Braselton’s list of the Top 10 Things To Do if Divorce is Imminent for more helpful information.
Anne Gallagher co-authors the Lawyers.com blog.
- Learn more about your legal issue on Lawyers.com
- Find an attorney on Lawyers.com
- Discuss your community issue on our Legal Forums
- Lawyers.com Suggested Legal Books
- Did this article help you? If so, please consider sharing it with your friends and encourage them to become a fan of Lawyers.com on Facebook. Or follow us on Twitter to retweet to your friends/followers.
- Download the Lawyers.com app for the iPhone or access the site on your smartphone