6 Biggest Mistakes Moms Make in a Divorce

rain windowSome of us see divorce coming from a long way off. And others don't see it until they hear those terrifying words, "I want a divorce." Especially for women who don't see it coming, that separation can send you into an emotional tailspin. And your turmoil can cause you to make some horrible mistakes that can cause you an awful lot of trouble later on.

We talked with divorce attorney Randall Kessler of Kessler and Solomiani in Atlanta about the most important things moms need to know about divorce, especially when it's an acrimonious split. Here's what not to do -- and why, even if your husband has left you with nothing, you should still hold onto hope.

1. Don't panic. "Knowledge is power," Kessler says. So don't freak out, get educated. Go online and find out everything you need to know (his firm's website has a list of helpful resources, and every state has divorce information online). Meet with a lawyer -- or better yet, more than one lawyer. Find out what your rights are, because you do have rights. And know that you're not going to get kicked out of your home immediately just because your husband isn't paying your rent or mortgage anymore. Explain your situation to everyone as soon as possible, and don't get intimidated into agreeing to a settlement before you're ready to.

More from The Stir: 20 Tricks for Getting Through a Divorce in One Piece

2. Don't just get a free consultation if you can avoid it. Kessler says you'll get better legal advice if you pay for it. There are exceptions, and a free consultation is better than nothing. How do you pay for that consultation? That leads to the next don't.

3. Don't borrow money from family -- yet. I was surprised when Kessler recommended against borrowing money from family for a lawyer. But he says you should save those resources for another time. Instead, see if you can borrow against your home or get a credit card. If you are financially dependent on your husband, he is responsible for paying for at least part of your representation. But you're less likely to get that money back if you've borrowed it from your family.

4. Don't allow your ex to intimidate you. "When your husband tells you that your lawyer just wants to make money, that's an intimidation tactic," Kessler says. Your husband may know how to scare you, but he doesn't know how to scare your lawyer. If you're in an acrimonious split, let your lawyer talk with his lawyer.

5. Don't run into the arms of another man. Or as Kessler puts it, "Don't commit adultery." Even if your husband has been carrying on an affair, starting one of your own will only add emotional heat to your divorce. Kessler says he's seen it too many times -- wives feel lonely, but husbands get angry, and then they make everything difficult. Don't give your husband any ammunition. Wait until you have a settlement to start your new romantic life. No, it's not fair. But it's practical.

6. Don't demand money before you've made up a budget. Kessler says it's important that you create a budget, even if you've never had one before. "You need a well-organized, detailed budget. It's your backup for why you need the alimony and child support you're asking for. You need to make sure all your needs are addressed."

And now, the hopeful part: "There are silver linings in divorce and I think you need to find them," Kessler says. Everyone who gets divorced feels terrified. Every woman is afraid she'll be a bag lady. But you get through it. Eventually, "you'll realize the benefits of not living with someone who isn't happy living with you." Kessler's book, Divorce, Protect Yourself, Your Kids and Your Future, comes out in fall 2013.

What's the first thing you would do if your husband suddenly demanded a divorce -- or if you suddenly realized you should demand one?


Image via DigitalAlan/Flickr

breakups, divorce


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Pinkmani Pinkmani

Another thing is turn the kids against the husband

kitty... kittykal47

The number 1 mistake I see with divorcing couples at my job is litigating for revenge. It costs people tens of thousands in attorney fees and usually gets them nothing - sometimes even lost custody from alienating the other parent. Try to view it as a business transaction because that's what it is.

Venae Venae

You won't be able to borrow against your house without BOTH of your signatures, so you can't do that.  I had to borrrow from family because after being served, I had 20 days to answer - and no money to pay an attorney to answer.  

I worked part time and was mostly dependent on my husband, but the judge ruled that he didn't have to pay any of my attorney's fees - at that time, almost $30,000.  My ex's new honey paid his fees and he didn't have to pay for anything - I had to pay my family back out of the proceeds from my house.  I had a few thousand left, but then had to pay the attorney again after my ex decided his new hobby was taking me back to court.  And he didn't have to pay any of those attorney fees to me either.


PonyC... PonyChaser

Don't give him your power. Take the high road. Your children will thank you for it, YOU'LL thank you for it. I'm newly divorced, but still very tied to my ex through our house. Rather than being mean - even though he is casually hurtful (often) - I keep our child foremost in my sights. I don't want him to have 'those parents' who cant' be in the same room. I want him to have "those parents" who managed their way through an exceedingly difficult situation (sudden disability, divorce, forced cohabitation) with grace and good humor, and remained friends. And sometimes that means that I have to bite my tongue and 'take one for the team': avoid pettiness, purposeful nastiness, and allow anger to wash over and away from me before speaking. In other words, work harder than ever to keep the peace.

nonmember avatar Theresa

Great advice if you have never been through a divorce. I was a stay at home mom for 11 years, ran a business with my ex. He had to pay nothing of my attorneys fees that he racked up to 107k. I owe everyone money, family, friends, my 15 year old. The best advice I can give is, poison the coffee, it cost a lot less and most plants are untraceable. I have full coustody of my child, a three year criminal restraining order protecting me from my ex and I house that I can't sell because I need his signature. I can't get that till 2015 when the restraining order expires. And not a dime in child support in two years, I lost my car and I'm state aid. If it was not for me "running into a mans arms" my child and I would be dead today. Please keep your bad advice to yourself unless you have lived it.

Samfan97 Samfan97

I agree that most of this advice is terrible, including borrowing against your house. In many states (including mine), you cannot borrow against your home unless your spouse signs off on the loan too. Even if the spouse agrees to it, it would likely decrease the net proceeds that you would receive after a sale.

the4m... the4mutts

This is not very good advice.

And BTW, many states now are no-fault states (Like CA) and a Judge will not give a flying fuck if you/your husband boned 50 other people, unless there was a pre-nup with an adultery clause.

the4m... the4mutts

Also, when you file for divorce, there is a clause in the paperwork that says neither spouse can put the other into any further debt, or face being held into contempt of court. So you CANT borrow against joint property.

You need better divorce advice.

Cel7777 Cel7777

If what the rest of the commenters are saying is true (I've never been through a divorce, so I don't know), it's kinda scary that a divorce attorney would give such ridiculous advice. Wtf.

LolaLoo LolaLoo

Most of this is pretty bad advice honestly....My best advice is this: Don't turn the child against your ex, even if they're doing their best to do it on their own end. Don't allow the ex to intimidate you, and don't count on him to be completeley honest about the divorce. My ex and I had to live together for over a year while we waited for the divorce to go through. The case was thrown out of court twice because he would check the mail and when a court document would come in notifying me of a hearing, he would pocket it and never tell me about it. Therefore, I found out months later,that he had been doing this which made me miss court dates I didn't know about, which in turn, made me look horrible. And also, try to look on the bright side;...at least you won't be dealing with that pain in the ass anymore! lol 

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