A divorce or separation can be one of the most traumatic experiences anyone ever faces. People often feel abandoned, sad, angry and afraid. They can feel like a failure. But it can get much worse when these feelings are fueled by the additional stress of litigation. The process is financially and emotionally expensive, and it can explode into a full-blown “ugly,” or hostile, divorce. There may be no way to completely avoid the negative emotions that come with the end of a marriage. But there are steps a person can take to “de-escalate” the process and try to avoid an “ugly” divorce.
1. Don’t use your children as pawns to gain an advantage
Do not put your children in the middle of your divorce negotiations. Divorce and separation can be even more traumatic for the children involved. They often feel caught between the two people they most love in the world. Some might feel they have to pick sides. Others might feel they are betraying one parent if they show love and affection for the other. So, never threaten to withhold custody or visitation time, or threaten to withhold child support payments, as a negotiation tool. You should also avoid saying bad things about your spouse to your children or in front of them. You will likely struggle with feelings of betrayal and anger regarding your spouse, but you should not express these feelings to your children. In addition, you should not talk about visitation, custody or child support in the presence of the children.
2. Don’t talk about your spouse or the new companion on social media
The last place you want to air your dirty laundry is on the Internet, for the world to see. If you post to Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or any other sort of social media you must be aware that whatever you post or write will probably become known during the course of your case. It can probably be seen by your spouse, and maybe even your children. What you post about a spouse can provoke a tit-for-tat response. Some social media communications can be interpreted as an “admission” against your interest, or simply cast you in a negative light. In order to avoid escalating emotions, do not write or disclose anything you would regret having displayed in front of a judge.
3. Consider alternatives to litigation
Today, there are many methods for resolving these issues other than going directly to court. There are direct negotiations, mediation (with or without the participation of your lawyer), arbitration, collaborative law and neutral evaluation. An experienced divorce lawyer can advise you about the availability of these methods and can suggest which might be most beneficial, given your particular circumstances.
4. Talk to an experienced divorce lawyer early in the process
If you learn about your rights, alimony details and obligations early in the process, you will have a better idea of what to expect. You will have the tools to negotiate an early, efficient and fair settlement. An N.C. State Bar board-certified family law specialist can tell you what to expect in the process and provide options for reaching a comprehensive settlement. Your attorney may also be able to help you find a therapist for your emotional issues and a financial expert for the valuation and tax issues specific to your case.
If you take these steps as you approach separation and divorce, you can face this emotional process with less stress and turmoil.