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You've heard it a million times that going through a divorce is difficult. As a West Michigan Divorce Attorney, I can state that divorce is full of challenging moments. However, with some common sense, you can avoid some common divorce pitfalls by following a few basic rules:

  1. Don't start a new relationship. Well, Duh! Need I say more. Respect the current relationship and see it to the end. Don't confuse your children with introductions to new "friends" while in the midst of the divorce. Judges don't appreciate it, as it shows a lack of good judgment. And it will only fuel the fire in the divorce proceeding. If this is a person you intend to have a serious relationship with at the conclusion of the divorce, then they will understand that this is not the appropriate time to be introduced to the children.
  2. Couch surfing sucks! Don't move out of the marital home without a plan. Changes will happen as you go through your divorce, so be prepared to deal with life as it comes at you. The biggest change clients struggle with is adapting to living on a now single income. During this turbulent time, you need to provide stability for your children. That means you need to provide an appropriate home for them while going through the divorce. So, don't jump the gun and move out of the marital home without a solid financial plan, and a safe place for your children to visit or live.
  3. Don't share the details of your divorce with your children. Divorce doesn't mean hide the fact that you are going through a divorce from your children. But there are certain facts that should remain between adults. Allow your children to be children for as long as possible. Remember, the changes taking place in your life are also taking place in theirs. It's hard enough for children to cope with major life changes. They certainly shouldn't be burdened with adult conversation and information about the divorce. Adult conversation is just that!
  4. Your children are not the Pony Express. Don't use your children as a go between to relay messages to your spouse. If you are unable to speak to your spouse civilly, then hire an attorney to assist you. It will be their job to communicate with your spouse or spouse's attorney during the divorce. But, don't use your children as a form of communication between each other.
  5.  It wasn't immaculate conception! Don't think that because you are divorcing, you are the only parent. The children have two parents - and always will. Don't force them to choose between their parents. They love both of you. So, avoid putting them in the middle of the hostility and anger.
  6. Your children are not Olympic gold medal winners! Don't use extra-curricular activities to monopolize your children's free time. If they didn't participate in the activity while you were married, they most likely don't need to participate in the activity while the divorce is pending. Now is not the time to enroll them in an excessive amount of activities, especially if these activities take place on your spouse's parenting time. If you can't agree on extra-curricular activities, the rule should be that parenting time with the other parent is far more important than participation in an extra-curricular activity.
  7.  It's not your way or the highway! We all know divorce is hard on children. It is hard enough for the children to acclimate to living in two households. Respect that there are now two households for the children, with two sets of rules. Although consistency is ideal, you can't expect your soon to be ex-spouse to share in your beliefs and rules regarding discipline.
  8. Avoid purchasing big ticket items while going through your divorce. It's not the time to buy a new car or home. Wait until the dust settles, and you've reached a settlement agreement with your spouse. Your spouse could claim that you used marital money to finance your new car or home. It then may become a marital asset to be divided in the divorce.
  9. Pay your bills. You need to continue to meet your obligations. If it is a joint debt, you remain obligated. There is life after divorce. And the consequences of your decisions during your divorce will follow you afterwards. Some people believe that getting a divorce means walking away from marital debt and starting over. No! You still have responsibilities - meet them.
  10. Your bartender is not your counselor! Use discretion when talking about your divorce. Don't over-share all the details of your divorce with your friends and colleagues. Refrain from making every conversation about the trials and tribulations of your divorce. Some things are better left private. And, after the divorce, you want your friends to be standing by you.