Even in a collaborative divorce—which, by definition, is one in which both spouses seek to reach consensus through negotiation rather than litigation—it can be easy to do things that may undermine the process. If you have chosen the collaborative route, you did so because it was emotionally and potentially financially less costly and creates far less stress than a contested court battle, especially when children are involved.
As you enter into a collaborative divorce, here are five guidelines to keep in mind:
1.Don’t rack up more debt
Whether you’re inclined to go on a spending spree to ease your pain (or to inflict pain on your partner), don’t. When it comes to dividing assets like a house, cars, furniture and even investments and savings accounts, the debt incurred reduces the value of those items. In the long run, that may mean that you get far less than you expected to receive.
2. Don’t turn to unhealthy habits or coping mechanisms
A divorce is one of the most stressful times in person’s life. Instead of being consumed by the negative and dealing with the grief in unhealthy ways through over consumption of alcohol or jumping into relationships too soon, focus on making positive changes such as cultivating a healthy support system, a meditation practice, an exercise regime, therapy, and hobbies.
3. Don’t hide anything from your attorney
No matter how embarrassing, your attorney can only help if they have all the facts. It’s their job to make sure that you get the best possible outcome. Hiding anything makes that hard to do, especially if it comes to light in the middle of negotiations.
4. Don’t make any large purchases
California is a community property state, meaning that anything acquired during a marriage is split 50/50 between you and your spouse, with limited exceptions. If you purchase a high-ticket item once you and your spouse decided to call it quits, it may still be considered community property and subject to a 50/50 split. Why? The date of separation is sometimes debatable and you may find yourself mired in a questionable legal area. It’s better to wait until after the divorce is finalized to make a big purchase.
5. Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your kids
A divorce can’t be collaborative if it’s combative and berating your ex may help you let off some steam, but it’s hurtful to your children. Your children have two parents. Putting down that other “half” is tantamount to putting down your child and making them feel ashamed. Moreover, it makes it more difficult for them to have a healthy and loving relationship with their other parent. No matter how angry or hurt you may feel, don’t share it with your children. Instead, seek help from positive friends, therapists or support groups.
Consult an experienced divorce attorney in California about collaborative divorce
Divorce doesn’t need to be contentious and can be resolved in a process that focuses on integrity, respect, and compromise. Contact experienced Fresno, CA divorce attorney Rebecca Medina at