Top five tips for helping your mate in a divorce

Unfortunately, just about everyone knows someone who has, is or will go through a divorce. Your mate won’t always get this advice from his lawyer, so here are our top five tips to help your mate through this difficult time.

It’s about the kids

Yes, it’s traumatic for Mum and Dad, but that’s nothing compared to how horrible this whole situation can be for the children. The best thing you can do is remind them both that it’s the kids that matter. There’s going to be a huge adjustment needed by both new households. Most households barely get everyone out of bed on time, lunches packed, and school drop-offs done, with two parents let alone one. Remind your mate that ‘point scoring’ with the kids is just going to make things messier. Both parents need to keep their issues to themselves and try to help each other adjust to the new routines.

Remind them to be rational

Make sure your mate doesn’t settle for a lawyer who will just agree with them in order to win their business. The bottom line is that there are really no winners in a divorce, and usually, both sides walk away thinking they’ve been shafted. The best way to ‘win’ at divorce is to make sure you don’t pay tens of thousands of dollars to your lawyers. Sometimes even picking up the phone and talking to a lawyer is stressful, so if you’re a really good mate feel free to call some lawyers for your friend, and suss them out yourself. A good lawyer will be happy to take your call or you mate’s call, spend the time understanding the situation, identifying the issues, and giving a realistic estimate of what it is going to cost and why. It’s also important, during the process, to remind your mate not to make decisions in anger, but to be rational and consider things from their ex-partner’s perspective. And always remind them to consider whether the money paid to the lawyer, plus the extra time and stress, is worth whatever it is they’re fighting over.

Be there

Breakups are indeed messy. Most people do not handle them well. Make sure your mate doesn’t feel like they’re on their own. Check-in on them. Make sure they aren’t spinning out of control. Signs to watch for is if they start significantly changing their own behaviours, for example spending a lot more nights at the pub, or hanging around a dangerous crowd. Be there for them to talk to, but also be prepared to tell them to pull their head in if they start losing control. And if that ends badly, just give them time and check in on them again. Don’t judge, as from their perspective their world has just been turned upside down and they probably feel like the one person they thought was on their side is now trying to take them to the cleaners and take their kids away.

Tell them they’ll regret it in the morning

They will need you to be the voice of reason, whether it’s stopping them from doing a midnight drive-by to see whose car is parked up their old driveway, or quitting their job to avoid child support, or just hiding their assets. These things will only make the whole process messier, and probably a lot more expensive.

It really is about the kids

One of the biggest non-legal problems we see our clients going through at Cudmore Legal is getting their head around the fact that the other parent won’t, and no longer has to, parent the way they’d like them to. Unfortunately, we see a lot of parents wanting to minimise the other parent’s time with the children, and it often boils down to one parent thinking the other parent is not going to follow the ‘correct’ or ‘usual’ routines. It’s important you remind our mate that spending meaningful time with both parents is far more important at the moment than whether the kids are brushing their teeth three times a day, or having too much screen time.

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