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Do's and Don'ts of Divorce

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What Types of Things Should I Do and Not Do During My Divorce?

Everything that you do during the divorce period can affect your divorce and divorce agreement. You don't want to do something that you will regret later or will get you into legal trouble. A smart individual is aware of the pitfalls of certain activities during this period.

You should consider the following three things when going through a divorce:

  • Legal Steps: think about the legal actions you’ll have to go through. Keep in mind how you’ll interact with your spouse, the attorneys, and the court.
  • Personal Actions: don’t be mean-spirited when you make decisions or interact with your spouse or his/her attorney.
  • Your Children: consider how your actions and behavior will affect your children through this process.

What Should I Not Do During This Period?

  • Legal Steps 
    • Child custody and visitation: If you have kids, don't violate or complicate custody and visitation arrangements. This may be viewed as disrespectful to the court, your children, and your spouse. Bad behavior may make the court alter the permanent arrangement later on.
    • Divorce and a new marriage: Don't attempt to get married to another person during the divorce. A third party in the mix only confuses things further, creates greater animosity, and makes for rougher legal battle, especially in fault states.
    • Never hide property or assets: Don't mess around with your assets too much. Courts are suspicious of people that provide wildly different documentation to the court of their assets than the spouse said they had. Gifting property away to friends or relatives and arranging to get it back later will only lead to another trip to court.
  • Personal Actions
    • Compromise: Try to be as accommodating and cooperative as possible. This is a stressful time, so try to be the bigger person. Playing nice may not be easy during this time, but it can lead to settling your divorce quicker and for less money.
    • Time management: Give yourself time and space to de-stress during this period. Try not to schedule too many things during this period. 
  • Your Children
    • Keep calm: Make sure that you consider your children's feeling in all this. Lashing out at them over your spouse's abuses is never productive. They need your support.
    • Avoid talking about the divorce: Don't concentrate all on the divorce. Failure to keep up a relationship with your kids during this period looks bad in your kids' eyes, but it can also look bad in the courts eyes. 

What Do I Not Want to Do During This Period? 

  • Legally 
    • If you have kids, don't violate or complicate custody and visitation arrangements. Even if they're only temporary arrangements a court may view a meddlesome person as disrespectful of the court, children, or your spouse, and this may alter the permanent arrangement the court later decides on.
    • Don't attempt to get married to another person during the divorce. A third party in the mix only confuses things further, creates greater animosity, and make for rougher legal battle especially in fault states. 
    • Don't mess around with your assets too much. Courts are suspicious of people that provide wildly different documentation to the court of their assets than the spouse said they had. Gifting property away to friends or relatives and arranging to get it back later will only lead to another trip to court.
  • For yourself 
    • Don't schedule a lot of traveling or vacationing during this period.  Courts often do not care what your schedule is, and you don't want to have to disrupt your travel or vacation to go to court. Try to keep yourself as accessible as possible as your attorney, your spouse, and sometimes the court will need to get in touch with you to keep the process moving.
    • Don't attempt to make any big moves during this period.  Don't attempt to switch jobs unless it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don't attempt to make any life-altering moves unless for health and safety reasons. Changing jobs and residences can only complicate things. New issues can confuse the process causing further delay and greater expense for both parties.
    • Do not make decisions based on your emotions and make sure that all the decisions made is done legally and on a rational basis.
    • Do not spend thousands of dollars in court fees and attorney fees fighting with your spouse over a $200 piece of property.
  • For your children
    • Do not ask your children about the activities and behaviors of your (ex) spouse. Make sure to keep them out of the divorce proceedings.
    • Do not use your children as a bargaining took during the settlement proceedings.
    • Do not prevent your children seeing the other spouse before the court has issued any custody rulings.

Should I Contact a Family Law Attorney?

Yes. It is always a good idea to have an attorney assist you with the divorce process, especially when your spouse has one. An experienced family law attorney can answer all your questions and help you keep perspective on the whole process. Your attorney can also help you get a good settlement out of the divorce.

Photo of page author Jessica Tran

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 03-12-2018 07:19 PM PDT

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