15 May 5 tips to reduce the emotional and legal costs of divorce and separation
Going through a divorce is likely going to be the most difficult time of your life. Divorce doesn’t need to be the most expensive or emotionally draining thing you do if you approach it right. You don’t want your divorce costing more than your wedding, and while the loss of a relationship is akin to the death of a loved one, there are tactics that can help lessen the blow both emotionally and financially.
1. Watch out for the domino effect
In a divorce or separation, it can be easy to dwell on what you could have done better, or what the other party might have done to cause all of this. Experience has taught us, that placing blame on one party or yourself, leads to emotional cloudiness which will affect your decision-making ability. It’s best to try and look forward. Approach the divorce as a new step in your life. There is going to be a grieving process and you need to accept it. We recommend most of our clients see a counsellor. Most people can qualify for free counselling either through their GP. If you approach the divorce with a clear mind, you will make better decisions. These decisions can set off a domino effect. For example, responding to that text message in a calm manner vs responding to it with a nasty threat or abuse, could mean the difference of thousands of dollars in legal fees in fighting a protection order.
However, it’s not always appropriate to move on and completely forget the past behaviour of your spouse, particularly in child custody cases where past abusive behaviour towards you or the children must be considered.
2. Don’t let your new spouse or their new spouse affect you legally or emotionally
We all know that too many chefs in the kitchen can reap havoc on the meal, same goes for divorce. While you should rely on your new spouse, friends or family for support – don’t let them make your decisions. It is true, that least amount of people involved in the decision making of a divorce will often lead to a speedier and less costly divorce. You might find your ex’s new spouse totally abhorrent, but unless the new spouse has a criminal history or is abusive then it’s probably best to leave their nuances and try to get along. Most people are reasonable once you find the motivations for their actions.
Additionally, you should make sure that your new spouse is a suitable fit for you and your situation. We’ve dealt with cases where it’s been revealed that a new spouse has previous child sex crimes this caused a tirade of child custody issues. It’s best to have open and honest communications with all parties early on.
3. Forgot about the past and the present behaviour too
While it’s often said you should just try to ‘move on’ from past behaviour, the same can be said about the present. Your ex might sleep with a close friend, take up a new hobby, or decide to get fully body tattoos of pirates. Regardless of what they do, it’s best not to focus on it too much. It’s easier said than done, but it can cost you a lot of emotional time and legal fees if you let it.
However if the behaviour is out of line, abusive, puts you or the children at risk, or involves financial aspects you need to talk to your lawyer asap. Setting boundaries early on are the key in these situations.
4. Lock down your social media immediately
It might be fun to post an image of you 20kg lighter with a new beautiful lover by our side, heck it might be fun posting a passive aggressive meme style slap in the face. We aren’t saying don’t post it, but it shouldn’t be posted to add fuel to the fire. If you haven’t already you should remove your spouse from viewing your social media. Additionally, you should consider setting audiences on Facebook so that only your most trusted allies can see how good you are looking now. While legally there are no consequences for posting these types of things, the truth is an emotional blow up on their end can end up in a blow out of your legal fees.
It goes without saying posting about the relationship or the new parties behaviour or lack of is also off limits. You might slip up in an angry rage and say something you shouldn’t. Being slapped with a potential defamation case is the last thing you want now.
5. Get legal advice early
Obviously, as lawyers, we are always going to tell you to do this. But really, really do it. Getting advice early on, setting boundaries early on is far better than letting issues muster away. You need to take actions as soon as possible even if you aren’t emotionally ready to accept the relationship is over. Some people put off getting a lawyer until the other party does, but even in the most amicable cases, it’s best to see a lawyer early as it might just get nasty down the line. We often have cases where everything is fine until one party moves on or gets into a new relationship. We have had cases where everything is fine until something isn’t clear in a nonofficial agreement that agitates the parties. You will save yourself loads of stress talking to a lawyer sooner rather than later.