How Getting in Your Own Way Overly Complicates Your Divorce

  •   |   Meghan Freed

Freed Marcroft is happy to share this guest post by Jenny Bradley, founder of top-tier North Carolina divorce and family law firm Triangle Smart Divorce. We share similar philosophies on reducing drama during divorce and of being no-nonsense with our clients which can help in both Connecticut and North Carolina.

Navigating Divorce: Common Pitfalls Illustrated Through John and Mary’s Journey

Divorce is a legal and emotional whirlpool that has the power to turn lives upside down.  The delicate dance between emotions, law, money, and ego can spin a tangled web that’s hard to escape.  Amid this new and uncomfortable territory, it is very easy for people to be their own stumbling blocks, inadvertently (and, sometimes, advertently) complicating the process further.

In this article, we’ll provide real-life examples of how our fictitious couple, John and Mary, got in their own way and caused more drama and headaches for themselves and their lawyers, invariably resulting in a more costly and lengthy divorce process.  We will also give tips on how to avoid some of these stumbling blocks.  And we will shed some light on why sometimes getting in your own way seems unavoidable and how to help you overcome that feeling.

Emotional Challenges

Divorce seldom unfolds without some emotional turbulence.  It’s the landscape where love morphs into disdain, trust crumbles, and the future seems murky.  John and Mary’s journey shows how unchecked emotions can compound the challenges:

  1. Lack of Emotional Preparedness: John was blindsided by the divorce. His emotional response was a volatile mix of denial, anger, and betrayal.  The intensity of these emotions clouded his judgment, propelling him towards a battle in Court rather than considering mediation.  The legal fees skyrocketed, and the process dragged on, bleeding his finances dry and leaving scars that time will struggle to heal.
  2. Holding onto Bitterness: Mary, on the other hand, clung to her bitterness like a protective cloak. The fury she harbored made her adversarial, especially when it came to negotiating custody arrangements.  The mere thought of sharing custody with John was unacceptable.  This rigid stand led to a drawn-out custody battle, robbing the children of a peaceful transition and, in all likelihood, harming their long-term emotional well-being.
  3. Using the Children as Pawns: The vendetta reached a point where John began using the children as pawns in his spite-fueled chess game. He fed them lies and tales about Mary, trying to turn them against her.  Mary felt the need to “correct the record” and overshared details about the marriage and divorce with the children.  This tug of war left the children feeling torn between their parents, instilling a sense of insecurity and distress that will linger into their adulthood.

The emotional turmoil experienced by John and Mary is far from unique. Emotions, when left unchecked, can morph into shadows that loom over the divorce proceedings, tainting every discussion and negotiation with venom. The bitterness and resentful feelings can, unfortunately, outlive the divorce process itself, haunting individuals and their families for years to come.

Psychological Barriers

The effects of divorce aren’t merely legal or financial; they are profoundly psychological. As individuals venture through the unknown, their own minds can often morph into formidable adversaries. The tale of John and Mary shows us a sampling of psychological barriers many face but seldom recognize until it’s too late.

  1. Denial: Mary found herself in denial as the reality of divorce beckoned. The life she had known was crumbling, and the fear of the unknown veiled her vision. This denial spurred procrastination. The division of assets, a critical step towards financial independence, was shoved under the rug. Bills started piling up, yet Mary’s eyes were glued to the rearview mirror, stuck in the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’.
  2. Projection: John, fueled by resentment, became adept at the blame game. He pinned the wreckage of his marriage solely on Mary, absolving himself of any wrongdoing. This projection was a psychological shield against self-reflection and acceptance. The more he blamed Mary, the further he drifted from the shore of resolution. His inability to acknowledge his part in the marital discord not only widened the chasm between him and Mary but also stymied his personal growth.
  3. Overwhelm: The tasks awaiting Mary sent waves of overwhelm that paralyzed action. Each day, the list of decisions to be made loomed larger while Mary felt smaller. The overwhelm morphed into avoidance. Important tasks like seeking alternative accommodations were delayed until Mary found herself scrambling at the last minute, making choices that were far from ideal. This not only heightened her stress but also impacted her financial stability.

As illustrated by John and Mary, psychological barriers can be silent saboteurs, gnawing at the pillars of rational decision-making. Unveiling these barriers, acknowledging their presence, and seeking professional help to navigate through them can be the beacon of light in the murky waters of divorce. And as individuals emerge from the psychological tempest, the path toward resolution and healing becomes discernible amidst the chaos.

Financial Missteps

The financial arena of divorce is a battlefield laden with potential landmines. When embroiled in emotional and psychological storms, financial oversights can easily occur, setting the stage for long-term monetary woes. The below stories of John and Mary illustrate common financial missteps that can exacerbate the already stressful process of divorce.

  1. Lack of Financial Awareness: John was somewhat disconnected from the financial intricacies of his marriage. Their investments were a realm Mary had navigated. Now, faced with the task of disentangling these joint financial ventures, John’s lack of awareness left him in a fog of uncertainty. His unawareness and failure to gain awareness could potentially lead to unfavorable divisions, causing him to miss out on returns that he was rightfully entitled to.
  2. Hasty Financial Decisions: On the other side, Mary, swept in the tide of wanting to move on quickly, made hasty decisions. The shared vacation home, a significant asset, was sold in a rush at a price far below its market value. This hasty move not only reduced the financial cushion she could have had but also left her with a pang of regret as she later realized the financial misstep she had made.
  3. Mingling Finances: The divorce was a blaring call for financial separation, a call that John seemed to ignore. He continued to use joint accounts for personal expenses, blurring the financial boundaries further. This mingling led to heated disputes over expenses, prolonging the process of achieving a clean financial break. The indistinct financial boundaries not only made the divorce proceedings murkier but also hindered both John and Mary from moving toward financial independence.

Financial missteps in divorce aren’t just about immediate losses or gains; they resonate into the future, shaping the financial stability and security of the involved parties. The unheeded financial decisions, as seen in John and Mary’s scenario, can leave lasting scars. It’s imperative that divorcing individuals arm themselves with adequate financial knowledge, seek professional advice, and tread the fiscal waters of divorce with caution. As the storm of divorce rages, having a solid financial foothold can be a linchpin for emerging from the ordeal with a semblance of stability, ready to embark on the path of financial recovery and rebuilding.

Legal Oversights

Venturing into the world of divorce can feel like stepping into a complex maze without a map. Laws, rules, guidelines, and procedures can be confusing, and missteps can lead to unfavorable outcomes. John and Mary’s saga further unveils the importance of solid, experienced legal counsel and an understanding of the legal process.

  1. Not Seeking Legal Advice: Mary, in her desire for a speedy resolution, bypassed consulting a lawyer. This oversight cost her dearly as she remained unaware of her entitlement to alimony, leading to a financial crunch post-divorce. The lack of legal advice left her navigating the tumultuous waters of divorce law unassisted, risking an unfair settlement.
  2. Using Court as a Battleground: John, fueled by indignation, saw the courtroom as a battlefield to settle scores. His insistence on litigation over mediation not only escalated legal costs but also created an adversarial atmosphere. This combative approach further strained their already frayed relationship, making co-parenting a thorny journey.
  3. Inadequate Documentation: Documentation is the backbone of legal proceedings, a fact Mary overlooked. Her failure to document financial contributions and assets accurately almost led to an inequitable asset division. The lapse in documentation threatened to derail the fairness of the divorce settlement, adding stress to an already tense situation.

Legal oversights in divorce proceedings, as demonstrated by John and Mary, can have lasting repercussions. Engaging legal professionals, embracing mediation over litigation, and maintaining thorough documentation are critical steps toward ensuring a fair, equitable, and less acrimonious divorce.

Communication Breakdowns

Communication, or the lack thereof, can significantly shape the trajectory of divorce proceedings. The tale of John and Mary showcases how miscommunication can exacerbate conflicts and delay resolution.

  1. Avoiding Conversation: John’s reluctance to discuss pressing issues, driven by emotional distress, led to an abyss of misunderstandings. The lack of open dialogue forestalled the resolution of pressing issues, dragging the divorce process longer than necessary.
  2. Aggressive Communication: Mary’s frustration often translated into hostile texts and emails. This aggressive communication strained their interaction further, jeopardizing the negotiation process. The hostility also seeped into their co-parenting efforts, creating a tense environment for their children. And the Court did not favorably look upon her communications when considering the parties’ abilities to co-parent.
  3. Not Listening: Amid the blame game, John often disregarded Mary’s concerns, particularly about the schooling of their children. His refusal to listen and consider her viewpoint resulted in delayed decisions and heightened animosity.

Navigating a divorce requires a commitment to open, respectful communication. As illustrated through John and Mary’s experiences, failure to maintain a constructive dialogue can lengthen the divorce process, increase emotional distress, and impede co-parenting efforts. Adopting a collaborative approach and seeking mediation can significantly enhance communication, paving the way for a more harmonious divorce transition and post-divorce relationship.

External Pressures

The dynamics of divorce do not operate in a vacuum. External pressures, often stemming from societal norms, family, and friends, can significantly impact the proceedings. Through the lens of John and Mary’s narrative, we explore how external influences can exacerbate the already challenging divorce terrain.

  1. Family Interference: Mary’s family, although well-intentioned, interfered excessively in the divorce process. They pressured her to fight for assets and custody vehemently, feeding her anxiety and antagonism. The external push morphed into an internal drive to “win” the divorce, prolonging the legal process and escalating the animosity between Mary and John.
  2. Friend Bias: John found a chorus of agreement in his friend circle, who continuously vilified Mary, further cementing his negative perception of her. This echo chamber discouraged any form of amicable resolution, fostering a ‘me versus her’ mentality, which trickled down adversely into the negotiation process.
  3. Social Stigma: The fear of societal judgment haunted both John and Mary. John feared being viewed as a failure, while Mary dreaded the label of a “divorced woman.” These fears skewed their decision-making, often encouraging them to act against their better judgment to maintain a facade for the external world.

External pressures can distort perceptions and fuel drama. Recognizing and mitigating these external influences is a crucial step toward ensuring that the divorce process remains as constructive and amicable as possible.

Lack of Forward Planning

Planning for life post-divorce can easily slip through the cracks amidst the emotional, legal, and financial whirlwinds. The absence of forward planning can lead to a rocky transition into the new phase of life.

  1. No Financial Planning: Mary didn’t foresee the financial implications of living on a single income. Post-divorce, she found herself engulfed in financial struggles that could have been mitigated with proper financial planning and budgeting.
  2. Inadequate Housing Arrangements: John failed to secure stable housing post-divorce. The last-minute scramble not only caused undue stress but also impacted his custody arrangement, as he couldn’t provide a stable home environment initially.
  3. Neglecting Future Co-Parenting Plans: The lack of a comprehensive co-parenting plan left John and Mary navigating uncharted waters. Their lack of preparation resulted in recurring conflicts over parenting schedules, decision-making, and unforeseen circumstances, contributing to a tense co-parenting atmosphere.

Lack of forward planning, as portrayed through John and Mary’s trials, can elongate the transition period, exacerbate financial struggles, and breed co-parenting conflicts. Embracing a forward-thinking approach, exploring future living arrangements, financial implications, and co-parenting plans can significantly smoothen the road towards adjusting to life post-divorce.

Conclusion: How to Avoid These Obstacles and Reduce the Drama of Divorce

The journey of our fictional characters, John and Mary, through divorce serves as a reflective lens, shedding light on the common pitfalls and barriers that can arise along the path. Their tale unveils a wide scope of challenges, stretching across psychological barriers, financial missteps, legal oversteps, communication breakdowns, external pressures, and lack of forward planning.

One notable lesson echoes throughout the diverse challenges faced by John and Mary: the indispensable value of professional advice. Their journey underscores how legal counsel, financial planning, and psychological support can serve as lighthouses amid the storms that can arise during divorce proceedings, guiding individuals toward equitable and amicable resolutions. Their tale emphasizes the merits of engaging experienced professionals to guide you through the complex emotional, legal, and financial domains of divorce.

The stories of John and Mary highlight the value of open communication. The waters of divorce, though at times tumultuous, can be navigated with less drama when open dialogue is cherished and practiced. The willingness to communicate, listen, and understand can foster a conducive environment for negotiation, fostering quicker resolutions and laying a foundation for amicable co-parenting arrangements.

Additionally, John and Mary’s stories highlight the essence of mindfulness and forward planning. Divorce isn’t merely about severing ties; it’s about intentionally designing the next chapter of your life after the dust settles. By embracing a forward-thinking approach and anticipating the changes awaiting on the horizon, individuals can prepare better, making the transition into post-divorce life more smoothly.

As best as you can, don’t travel on the divorce pathway blinded by emotions or external pressures. Your desire for less drama in your divorce invites a conscious journey, one marked by informed decisions, professional guidance, open communication, and a gaze fixed toward the future. With a smart approach, the storm of divorce can be weathered, leading to calmer shores and a hopeful outlook toward the chapters yet to be written. By incorporating the lessons from John and Mary, you arm yourself with a compass of understanding, ready to navigate through the divorce process with less drama and a vision for a more harmonious post-divorce life.

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC