All divorces have on common element: a spouse on the other side. Starting a divorce can change the dynamics between you and your spouse, sometimes in a good way other times in a negative way. Here are some tips for dealing with your spouse and children during a divorce.
What should I tell our children about the divorce?
Tread carefully in your discussions about discussing any details of the divorce litigation. Inevitably, this backfires. Try to avoid fault-finding and blaming in discussions with your children. Divorce is an adult problem. Do not make it your children’s problem. Take care not to do things that might alienate the children from the other. This can stem from you tell the children or even what they sense about your feelings.
How should we tell the children about a divorce?
Ideally, the divorcing couple sits down and has the discussion together. There are many resources on how to have this discussion. For example, see:
- Psychology Today: How to Tell Your Children You’re Getting a Separation or Divorce.
- Today’s Parent: How to tell kids about divorce: An age-by-age guide
- Survive Divorce: https://www.survivedivorce.com/what-to-tell-children-divorce
If there has been marital counseling, it is often well ask the former marital counselor for specific advice.
Isn’t it important for me to get as many of our friends on my side as possible?
No, although this is frequently done. On the other hand, it is important to have a good group of friends and a support system through the divorce.
How should I act toward my spouse?
If you want a good divorce, the best advice is to stay in your lane and avoid “blame-speak.” Try to avoid a series of “you” type statements that can result in an escalation of hostilities. This makes the divorce painful and more expensive.
My spouse says he will be fair in the settlement. How shall I handle this?
You may listen to him, but don’t necessarily believe this. Sometimes, “fair” might means: “If you accept my terms, it will be a nice and easy divorce.” In that case, you will sell yourself short if you accept his terms.
What should I do when my spouse attempts to provoke an argument or physical confrontation?
Walk away. Studies indicate that it often takes 20 minutes to calm down after a spouse becomes emotionally flooded. You may think you are calm a few minutes after a blow-up, but spoiler alert–you’re not… In some cases, a spouse might try to provoke you so she (or he) has grounds for an order of protection under the Domestic Violence Act.
Why does my spouse say bad things about my lawyer?
Usually it is because that spouse, feels a loss of control during the divorce process and blames it on the lawyer. Good lawyers rarely bad-mouth the other lawyer. Yes, some lawyers are better than others, but lawyers rarely engage in putting down the other lawyer. Usually, when engaged in this battle, the lawyers advice as repeated is miscast.
My spouse and I have worked out an agreement and he wrote it down and asked me to sign. Shall I sign it?
No. Consult with your lawyer. We can provide examples including in recent appellate court cases with two from 2021.
How can I avoid confrontations with my spouse?
You can use your lawyer as a buffer. Tell your spouse you will take up the problem with your lawyer and your lawyer will take up the problem with her lawyer. Also, in cases where you will need to work out a parenting plan, start with Bill Eddy’s book 2021 book: A Guide to Difficult Co-parent Texts, Emails and Media Posts.