Knowledge Base

        Common Conflicts


November 1, 2006
Written by Staff at The Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution

Like it or not, the decision has been made. You’re getting divorced.  That decision is the beginning of a journey.  A journey that is life changing.  It’s also the beginning of a journey that, coupled with some introspection, can be a powerful opportunity for self-discovery.  With some work, you can move gracefully through these changes, and build a positive and productive life for yourself and your children.  We, at the Centre for Mediation & Dispute Resolution, have put together a list of some common DO’s & DON’Ts. We have done so in the hope that you can avoid these pitfalls that cause people to stumble and even get trapped. We hope you find them helpful.

DON’T rely on family and friends to give you advice on how to handle your divorce. Financial and family decisions are yours to make.  Advice from professionals is your safest course of action.

DO accept emotional support, love, and even sympathy from your family and friends.

DON’T ignore the financial implications of divorce.  Marriage is a partnership, a financial as well as an emotional partnership.  When this partnership dissolves, each person will have more individual financial obligations; financial obligations that had been previously shared.

DO get up to speed with your family financial situation, particularly if you have not been regularly involved. Take an inventory of your assets and liabilities.  Understand what your monthly expenses are.

DON’T compare your divorce to anyone else’s.  Every situation is different, and you are most likely not privy to all the details of their lives.  

DO listen, but really educate yourself on the issues by reading, going to seminars, and consulting professionals. 

DON’T overindulge. It’s not healthy.  Spending excessively or

self-medicating may momentarily make you feel better, but it is

dangerous.  Don’t increase your spending, empty bank accounts, stop working or reduce work hours. 

DO take good care of yourself. Getting divorced is stressful. Eat well, get plenty of sleep, exercise. Deal with your anger and pain responsibly. It will, with time, dissipate.

DON’T expect to get financially compensated for a divorce that you did not want or that you perceive was the result of your spouse’s behavior. 

DO expect to get a fair and reasonable divorce agreement.  Each of you deserve that, regardless of what happened to the marriage.

DON’T allow your family or friends to believe they are affirming their loyalty to you, by passing on details of your spouse’s new life.

DO set limits with your friends and family.  Tell them that it is not productive for you to hear these details.

DON’T allow ‘the divorce’ to be the focus of your relationship with friends and family.  Don’t ‘become one’ with the divorce.

DO remember that ‘the divorce’ does not define you.  Your marriage did not ‘define’ you.  Get in touch with who you, as an individual, really are.  Pursue your interests or discover what your interests are….find new interests. 

DON’T allow yourself to feel your marriage was a complete waste of time.

DO remember that there were good times. Take responsibility for your part in the break-up.  Respect the past, and work on moving forward.

DON’T expect that just because you are ready to move on with other adult relationships, that your children are ready to deal with that.

DO be respectful of your children’s feelings about your adult relationships.  Remember that divorce is a life changing event for them as well.

DON’T poison your children by involving them in any unpleasant details of your divorce. 

DO remember that children love both of their parents.  Children can often feel that the divorce was their fault.  Children do not want to betray or be disloyal to either parent.

DON’T use co-parenting as opportunities to control or degrade your ex-spouse.  It is in everyone’s best interest for both parents to work together parenting their children.

DO co-parent in a way that has no agenda other than doing what is best for the children.

DON’T try to glean information from your children after they have been visiting with your ex-spouse.  That puts your children in an awkward position.  Don’t make them choose sides.

DO exercise self-restraint.  Think about what you say to your children before you say it.  You may think they don’t know what is really going on, but on some level, they do, and it is hurtful.

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