Watch for the common mistakes in Oregon divorces
If you’re contemplating a divorce, there’s no doubt that it’s a difficult time. Divorce fraught with charged emotion that may be unfamiliar. Even if you initiate the divorce, it’s still complicated. Divorce spawns big emotion, and even well-meaning parents make mistakes without thinking about the ramifications of their actions. To ensure a smooth process, we have compiled a list of common pitfalls to avoid doing during a divorce.
Using the Children as Weapons
This unfortunate practice, while universally counseled against, still creeps into divorce negotiations. People will tie parenting time and custody issues to matters of property division and finances. For example, “if you agree to X amount of spousal support, I will allow joint custody.” Although it is rarely so overt, it is nonetheless prevalent in more subtle ways. Don’t do it. Period. Courts penalize parents who prioritize financial issues over the best interest of children. Your children are not leveraged for anything. Your parenting time and custody matter must always place their best interest first.
Trash-Talking Your Ex
Negative talk about ex-spouses is a common problem, and you may not even realize you are doing it. As an ironclad rule: do not disparage your ex-spouse to your children or in front of your children. Children take these things to heart. Even if the allegations and statements are true, children don’t need to hear negative thoughts about their parents. Your children are 50% of the ex-spouse you are disparaging, so by insulting your ex; you are disparaging your children in some respect.
Allowing Emotion to Control Your Actions
It is said that during a divorce, people behave the equivalent of having temporarily lost 20 IQ points. Whether this is the case, it’s undeniable that thinking is more difficult when you are overwhelmed by a flood of other emotions. Intense hurt, anger, fear, and other emotion can cause poor judgment if you let them. Having a dispassionate sounding board, like an experienced attorney, counselor, or therapist, can help keep your worst impulses under control.
Everything You Do Might Affect Your Children
Whether your children are infants, teens, or even adults with their children, your divorce is going to impact them. Hiding the divorce from children is rarely a viable option. However, children also don’t need to know the gritty details of the divorce either. Here, it is an excellent idea to seek the guidance of a counselor or therapist with experience with children and divorce to determining the most age-appropriate language to use to explain the circumstances. A teenager will require far more information than a toddler, so tailoring your communication to each child is a must.
Obscuring Financial Information
Don’t lie to the court; this is always the case. Often people will try and frame their finances when divorcing to make the situation appear either better or worse for court. Should you wind up in court, savvy judges generally figure out the truth. Obscuring facts simply damages your credibility. Ignore well-meaning friends and family who might focus on the horrors of spousal and child support. Listen to your attorney instead and follow their direction. They know the law in your state.
Focusing on the Past
With few exceptions, legally, it doesn’t matter why you are getting a divorce. In the unfortunate circumstances that involve abuse or danger to yourself or the children, specific facts might be relevant to discuss with your lawyer. Otherwise, family law judges don’t evaluate which person is morally right or wrong or why the divorce is occurring. They are there to divide assets and debts and create a new future for your children. Leave that in the past. The grievances and emotional hurt from the marriage are better left to your counselor or therapist, as discussion in court simply muddies the issues the judge is required to decide.
Refusing to Compromise
Don’t enter negotiations unwilling to make any concessions. Sometimes it is tempting to “stand your ground” and decide that you aren’t willing to give an inch. If that’s the case, going into a negotiation likely will not yield anything except frustration. If you can’t negotiate and reach an agreement on your own, the only person who will be able to make decisions for you is the judge. In that case, you will end up having compromise made for you, often in less desirable ways. If you are going to enter negotiations, do it in good faith.
Not Getting an Experienced Oregon Divorce Lawyer
Abraham Lincoln famously said, “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The fact is that all but least contentious divorces have emotional issues that can impact your judgment amid a divorce. Even if you believe you are handling the circumstances will, hindsight will likely prove that some decisions were made without the clarity of dispassionate advice. Further, there is no substitute for knowing the law. Even if you have facts on your side, unless you know how to frame and present those in the context of Oregon law, you may not get the benefit of those factual advantages.
Placing Too Much Faith in the Advice of Family and Friends
It’s human nature to rely on the people closest to us during a divorce. Friends, family, and even acquaintances all seem to suddenly have opinions, advice, and experiences to share with you. The problem here is twofold. First, unless those family and friends are experienced Oregon divorce lawyers, they don’t know how to interpret the facts of your case correctly. Secondly, those family and friends, though well-meaning, are often aligning with you and telling you information you want to hear instead of providing objective legal analysis rooted in Oregon family law.
Not Recognizing Room for Improvement
Nobody is perfect; we all make errors along the way. If you are reading this list and realize you have already made some of the mistakes listed, it’s ok. You can make changes. What is important is recognizing the room to improve and find a way to change bad habits. Divorce is a process, and it’s a learning experience. Give yourself some breathing room and slack for making errors. It’s how you adapt to your situation and find space for self-improvement over past mistakes that ultimately will result in more peace for your family.