Divorce can be a tricky process for many men to navigate, particularly fathers. Men and dads get divorced, of course, but some divorces are more successful than others.
If you are a man and or a dad about to embark on the divorce process or you are currently embroiled in a tumultuous divorce, below are six common mistakes that men, particularly fathers, make during divorce and how you can prevent them from happening.
Not speaking to a divorce lawyer
When some men discover their wives want a divorce, they may go into denial, particularly if they don’t want a divorce. Often, these men refuse to talk to a lawyer, holding onto false hope that maybe their wife will come back if they avoid the subject.
Additional reasons men don’t work with a divorce lawyer include not wanting to expend energy on finding one or believe they lack the financial resources. Other men who have money to earmark for their divorce don’t want to dip into their funds for it. Not to mention there are those men who wish to prolong the divorce process out of sheer spite. More about that later.
Whichever reason men cite for not enlisting a divorce lawyer’s assistance, not having one can hurt later. That’s because consulting with a divorce lawyer who understands your needs and goals, can be an asset in numerous ways.
Not only can a skilled divorce lawyer help defend your position, especially since men have a history of experiencing a bias against them in family court, but a divorce lawyer can give you access to their copious resources. Those resources often include an extended team of professionals like certified divorce financial planners, forensic accountants, divorce coaches, parenting coordinators, and mental health professionals, among others.
Indeed, the old proverb applies: A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.
Not being honest with your divorce lawyer
It’s critical when hiring a divorce lawyer that you’re honest with them. Even the finest lawyers can’t do their job well if they aren’t fully aware of all the facts in the case. No lawyer likes to be surprised.
That includes you being dishonest with the lawyer about pertinent information, such as finances or hidden assets, as well as whether you were having an affair, which is still relevant to a divorce in some states. Your lawyer is there to help you. For both of your sakes, remember, knowledge is power.
Refusing to co-parent or not co-parenting well
Some men choose to fight with their exes over every single issue in and out of court. These men think that by resisting their exes and making the divorce as difficult as possible, they’re getting back at their ex. But, in reality, it’s them who end up getting hurt, along with the rest of the family, most notably the children, if there are any.
Continually arguing, plotting, and scheming is detrimental to everyone involved. On an individual level, it can disrupt your job, mental health, and interpersonal relationships, all of which can hurt you during the divorce process and the years afterward. In every way imaginable, it’s better to co-parent with your ex.
Not spending enough time with your children
During a separation, many men move out of the family home, sometimes too quickly. Or jump into a new relationship too soon. Or dive into work as a distraction. Whatever the case, the behavior may result in fathers not spending nearly as much time with their children as they used to before the divorce.
Whether conscious or not, this type of behavior can potentially harm you during a divorce, particularly if you’re seeking joint custody. Judges look for fathers who are active in raising their children when awarding custody.
On a more personal note, neglecting to spend time with your children may be harmful to them. It can damage the health of their relationship with you both today and in the future. Children, especially during a divorce, need their parents — each of them — to be supportive during and after your divorce.
Being an absentee father during a turbulent time such as a divorce may result in your kids resenting you now and later in life and potentially impact the relationships they form as adults with anyone from friends to romantic prospects.
Failing to pay child support
Divorce can wreak havoc on men’s finances. Between legal fees, time devoted to the divorce process, which can eat up time typically spent at work, and an inability to afford the lifestyle change resulting from transitioning from one household to two, men can be left in financial ruin after a divorce. As a result, they may not be able to make, or choose not to make, their child support payments.
Skipping child support payments looks terrible to a judge or mediator. It could be detrimental to your parenting arrangement with children. It could also affect you negatively during the property division phase of your divorce, as a judge may look more sympathetically at the single mother dealing with a deadbeat dad.
Perhaps worst of all, you can face arrest for failing to pay child support, which can impact all aspects of your life, including employment, for years to come.
Prolonging the divorce process.
There are various reasons why men opt to drag out their divorce for as long as possible. These reasons include not wanting a divorce, trying to wreak financial and emotional havoc on their ex-wife, or stubbornness.
If you’re thinking about deliberately dragging your divorce out, you should think twice. In addition to the stress prolonging a divorce can put on your family, particularly your children, legal fees can add up fast, draining your bank accounts.
The behavior hurts not just you now but will continue to affect your life and those of your children for decades as you try to play catch up. It’s not worth it.
Your primary goal should be to get through your divorce as quickly and as methodically as possible. That begins with you choosing a lawyer experienced in advocating for men’s rights in divorce. And becoming the best client that you can be for them — and yourself.