People make countless mistakes during a divorce. Emotions typically run high and everyone concerned is under a lot of stress, from the parents to the kids to the family members and friends watching it happen. Because divorces tend to be fraught with stress and anger, people have a tendency to make poor decisions based on these emotional responses, rather than logic. Here are the few most common mistakes dads make when they’re going through a divorce, and how to avoid them.
Make It Harder for the Other Spouse
Even if you believe the divorce is entirely your spouse’s fault, you should never make the divorce process harder on your ex out of spite. Not only is arguing with your ex a waste of time, but it’s expensive. Refusing to budge on an issue because you don’t like your spouse will drive up the cost of your divorce and potentially cost you later in court. Some states, such as California, have laws that punish spouses for unreasonable behavior during the divorce proceeding. The California Family Code gives courts the power to order attorney’s fees if a wife’s or husband’s conduct unnecessarily increases the cost of litigation.
Paying More Than You Can
If you’re going through a divorce, the worse thing to do is not to make a budget. Not only will you likely have to pay for a divorce attorney or mediator, but you may also have to pay spousal support in addition to child support. Likewise, you and your spouse will both be paying the full share of household expenses once one of you moves out. Your paycheck will be stretched thin, so you should understand what your legal obligations are in the wake of a divorce. A good budget can help you organize your finances and will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Not Making Your Children a Priority
Sometimes fathers will make the mistake of thinking more of the ending relationship or keeping the peace rather than prioritizing their children. While maintaining the peace is good, agreeing to just any arrangement for the sake of avoiding an argument may not be in your kid’s best interest. Children do best with both parents in their lives. Frequent and regular contact helps upkeep the bond between parent and child. Don’t give up your own rights to at least equal time with your kids if you don’t have to.
Using Children as Leverage
Other fathers will do their best to use their children as leverage for child support. This means going through lengthy and expensive court battles to increase custody and visitation in order to decrease potential child support payments. However, people who only care about the expense rather than spending time with their kids are unlikely to value that time. This lack of care will likely manifest later and will lead to more court time if your ex-spouse tries to sue for full custody. Your ex will also have more grounds to stand on, as you will have proven yourself to be untrustworthy.
Not Paying Child Support
Child support is a court-ordered amount that parents must pay to the other parent with primary physical custody. While some fathers may stop paying out of a desire to save money, most only stop paying because they can no longer afford to keep sending money to the receiving parent. For example, if a father loses his job, he might try and stop paying child support payments because money is tighter. However, if he didn’t submit a modification request to the court, he might end up with penalties and added charges he will need to pay later. The court understands changes in circumstances. In fact, a dramatic change in circumstance, such as a loss of income, will affect your child support payment amounts, which the court will view as an appropriate reason to not pay support. If you find you can’t afford the payments, talk to a skilled Orange County divorce attorney about applying for a child support modification.
Leaving the Family Home
Occasionally, fathers can feel like leaving the family home can help keep the peace during a divorce. Others assume the court will automatically award custody to the mother. However, the court considers many factors in deciding child custody, and many have granted full custody to fathers if the mother is seen as unfit or not able to care full time for the child. However, leaving the family home might make the father look like he is “abandoning” the family or is not interested in being part of his child’s life. To avoid this appearance, ensure you have a temporary agreement in place before moving out and ask an attorney for advice on how to proceed with the divorce and negotiating child custody.
If you’re a father experiencing a divorce for the first time, let us help. Our skilled Orange County divorce mediation attorney is dedicated to helping families through the difficult process of divorce. Alternative Divorce Solutions offers parents an innovative, flat-fee pricing, streamlined processes, and a more respectful way to handle divorce. We know this may be a stressful time for you and your family. Our founding attorney, Lani Baron, understands firsthand how divorce can affect a family. She can provide effective mediation for your divorce case, no matter how complex. Let see what we can do for you.
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