While divorce is almost always difficult, avoiding common mistakes can spare a lot of expense and emotional turmoil. Here are the biggest mistakes that cause families to suffer unnecessarily.
  1. Rushing into a divorce before you understand your options. Today there are many different ways to divorce, including mediation, Collaborative practice and traditional methods. Yet most people start their divorce without ever getting a full, competent explanation of their options. Getting a competent explanation of all choices requires research (For a summary of options go to www.divorcechoice.com).
  2.  Letting Emotions run the show. Divorce often creates intense feelings of fear, anger and sadness.  While those feelings may be natural, even healthy, letting those feelings drive your decisions, will often result in regrettable decisions.
  3.  Losing sight of the priorities. Divorce can have a sense of urgency that causes people to lose sight of their most important goals.   Intense focus on urgent problems can distract you from more important issue. Identifying your big picture goals at the beginning of the process will help you get a better outcome.
  4.  Believing that hardball tactics will help them get better outcomes.    Many divorcing people mistakenly believe that hardball tactics will help them achieve a better outcome in their divorce.  However, these hardball tactics usually backfire and almost always produce poor outcomes.  Finding a divorce process that protects your interest through more civilized and productive strategies will help you avoid this type of financial and emotional disaster.
  5.  Thinking of divorce as only a legal issue.   Because divorcing starts as a legal proceeding, it is easy to focus solely on the legal issues.  However, in most divorces, there are financial, emotional and child development decisions to be made that will likely have a greater impact on your life. Getting help from mental health professionals and financial experts, in addition to attorneys can help you address these other important issues.
One way to avoid making these mistakes is to pursue help from Collaborative professionals.  To contact a Collaborative Professional in your area go to www.collaborativelaw.org.

The most common mistake I have seen couples make during divorce might surprise you. It’s something that is done unknowingly. It’s done with good intentions. It’s something our culture has taught us to do.

So what is it? It’s choosing an attorney before choosing a process. When confronted with the reality of separation or divorce, your first step may be to ask friends, co-workers or family members for the names of good family law attorneys. Seeking a referral from a trusted acquaintance seems to make sense given the extremely personal nature of this legal event. It certainly is preferable to doing a Google search.

It’s important to realize, however, that, in addition to having varying degrees of competence, different attorneys use diverse methods of conflict resolution. A well-intentioned family member or friend may recommend a litigation attorney who is most comfortable in a courtroom. If you think you will need a judge’s help in reaching a fair resolution, you should look for a lawyer with this particular skill set. On the other hand, if you are more concerned about the impact your separation will have on your children, and prefer to maintain more privacy and control during the process, Collaborative practice may be a better process option for you and your family. If that’s the case, you and your spouse or partner should look for attorneys who specialize in the Collaborative process.

Separation and divorce are among life’s most challenging events. Choosing the right process first, then attorneys, is the safest way to proceed.