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5 of the Biggest Mistakes People Make When They First Separate


Written by Divorce Coach Prudence Henschke

Acting in the heat of the moment

Out of the gate, when you're recently separated, the best advice is to take a break from social media and from your email in-box. 

Emailing your soon to be ex-partner's colleagues/family/circle of friends telling them the sordid details of his or her infidelity, sharing “your side” of the story on Facebook or throwing your ex’s wardrobe on the front lawn - are all examples of actions taken in the heat of the moment which you are likely to to regret. No matter how justifiable it may seem to give-in to the temptation of unleashing, by exercising self-control and taking the high road here you're also increasing the chances for an amicable situation with your ex down the line.

Making misguided attempts to protect your interests

When faced with the fear of losing “everything”, there can be a temptation to take actions to protect yourself. This might take the form of hiding, selling or moving assets, destroying paperwork or re-creating history with creative loans or embellished versions of events. Note that it is illegal to hide assets and the law requires full disclosure of both parties' assets and debts. Attempts to do otherwise, may destroy any chance of civility in the future, and it can land you in legal trouble.

Poorly handling the way the news is communicated to loved ones

Sharing the news of your separation is a delicate matter. Unsurprisingly, changing your Facebook status to single is not the best way to communicate the news of your separation, nor is telling the school moms about your separation, for your children to then learn of it from their friends. These may seem like far fetched scenarios but you would be surprised how often people get this crucial step of a separation wrong. Getting proper advice about who should be told and what they should be told can help get the separation underway with less fall out (Laura’s book, It Doesn’t Have to Be that Way has a whole section devoted to this topic).

Failing to get proper advice and support

As well meaning as your friends and family may be, they are rarely able to offer balanced, objective and accurate advice in relation to the divorce process. Without good information about the practical and legal considerations, people often take steps which are against their interests and which are not always easy to undo. Similarly, people often try to go it alone on the emotional rollercoaster, when they would have been better to draw on the skills and experience of a therapist or coach to make the ride a little easier to navigate.

Being bullied into decisions or arrangements

The power imbalance that exists in some relationships, combined with heightened emotions and misinformation, can create an environment in which you are more susceptible to manipulation and pressure. This might take the form of agreeing to take responsibility of expenses you can’t really afford, or to custody arrangements for the children which you do not believe to be in their best interests – all to make your ex stop harassing you. The right information and support can help you avoid being pressured into making poor choices.

About the Author

Prudence is a Certified Divorce Coach with over 14 years of experience as a Family Lawyer.  In her role as a Coach, she specializes in helping working mothers feel supported, calm and confident as they navigate the practical and emotional challenges of a break-up or a divorce. You can connect with her via The Index and on her website