• Divorce is a tough time for everyone, but pain can be mitigated by avoided these pitfalls (Getty Images)
Divorce is devastating for everyone involved, but lessening that pain may be possible if we avoid the most common pitfalls along the way.
By
Jo Hartley

20 Apr 2017 - 2:21 PM  UPDATED 20 Apr 2017 - 2:35 PM

Divorce is one of the most stressful things anyone can go through, and it’s not hard to see why. With assets to split, child custody arrangements to be made if you have kids and an emotional rollercoaster to ride, it’s not for the faint-hearted. 

Yet, divorce in society is unlikely to change anytime soon.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2015 there were 48,517 divorces granted in Australia, marking an increase of 2,019 (4.3 per cent) from the 46,498 divorces granted in 2014.

Similarly, divorces involving children represented 47.5 per cent of all divorces granted compared with 47 per cent  in 2014.

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Regardless of this increase in numbers, one thing remains the same: the mistakes that people make when it comes to working through their divorce.

It’s something that Jenny Smith is all too familiar with.  

As a separation and divorce coach, Smith helps guide people through their divorce, equipping them with tools and strategies to navigate through even the worst of days. 

Smith offers her clients coaching throughout their journey, as well as access to skilled professionals such as financial advisors, legal experts and meditation staff.

Through her service she aims to mitigate the mistakes that divorcing couples most commonly make. 

Using kids as ammunition 

Unfortunately, when children are powerless victims, it’s common for parents to use them as tools to manipulate and control situations,” says Smith.  “It causes the most heartfelt grief and pain, not just to the children, but also to the other parent.”

Smith advises that parents need to remember that the consequences of their choices will have a direct influence on their children when it comes to issues of trust, life choices and beliefs about relationships and marriage.

Unfortunately, when children are powerless victims, it’s common for parents to use them as tools to manipulate and control situations” 

“Children are not equipped to handle these sorts of confrontations and many will feel they are to blame,” she says. 

Smith acknowledges that it takes a certain level of maturity and personal responsibility for couples to put their own issues and pain to one side, but notes that it’s important to work together.

“Keep in mind that children will have a long list of milestones coming up that you’ll both want to be part of,” she says. “Also, thinking longer term, there’ll likely be engagements, weddings and their own children one day.”

Poor communication 

While there are many couples that manage to communicate well through divorce, Smith notes that it’s not the norm.

“When communication blocks are put up, it’s a no-win situation for everyone.  Most people have no idea of the long-term implications and, subsequently, the risk of emotional and financial costs spiralling.”

In any communicative situation, Smith recommends asking yourself ‘what is the outcome I want from this?’, or ‘what is it that triggers my emotions in our communications’?

“Being self-aware is critical,” says Smith.  “I call it taking a helicopter view so you can observe yourself in the situation and learn from it.

“Creating change always has to start with us and, even though we can’t control others, we can control ourselves and who we choose to be in any relationship.”

The end of a relationship is the perfect time to assess what you really want next time around from both a personal and partner perspective

Rushing into a rebound relationship

There are many reasons why people may rush into a rebound relationship during divorce. The most common reasons relate to a sense of self-worth or loneliness. 

While it’s normal to want to feel loved or needed, Smith says it’s important to remember that it’s unlikely you’ve met the love of your life.

“The end of a relationship is the perfect time to assess what you really want next time around from both a personal and partner perspective,” she says.  

Before leaping into a relationship, Smith suggests really getting to know yourself, as well as recognising and acknowledging your own contribution to the failure of your prior relationship.  

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Consider if you failed to express your needs, enforce your boundaries, or put your own dreams and goals on the back burner to support your partner.

“We have to know ourselves really well and divorce provides plenty of opportunities to see ourselves in a whole different light and not always in a good way.”

Seeking the right kind of professional advice  

Education and information is key in helping you make decisions about your divorce, however, seeking the advice of a lawyer immediately is not always recommended.

“We have to know ourselves really well and divorce provides plenty of opportunities to see ourselves in a whole different light and not always in a good way.”

“Once couples start the separation journey at this point there’s a higher risk of ongoing litigation and conflict, along with higher legal fees that may escalate,” explains Smith.  “Children in the relationship can become a negotiation tool, too.”

Smith says it’s essential to have a great team of professionals on your side who can help you to take steps prior to you seeing a lawyer. Subsequently, this will also prepare you more for the journey ahead.

“You need people who are experts in their field, not your mum and dad, sister, brother or your mate or girlfriend who has been through divorce. No divorce journey is the same and the experience is different for everyone.”

 

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