Four divorce fails you can (and should) avoid

November 7, 2018

By Joanna Boyd

You know the statistic: half of Oklahoma marriages end in divorce.  With so many families and children affected by such a complex societal, legal, and emotional situation, recognizing the potential pitfalls of the divorce process can equip any family to weather such a change gracefully.  Here are five traps to avoid when going through a divorce with minor children.


1. Making drastic changes too soon.

When you go through a divorce and minor children are involved, a Court will be concerned with fair and equitable division of the tangible property of the marriage, but its highest concern will be with the best interests of the child or children.  Additionally, one thing Oklahoma statutes call for in the filing of a divorce is an automatic temporary injunction, or ATI. This ATI restricts parties from making changes to the lives and routines of the minor children—changing schools, losing health insurance, cancelling utilities or bills.  

Judges do not like when parties are not only initiating a legal change to their family unit, but also creating an upheaval of the status quo for the innocent children involved.  Avoid abrupt school changes and transfers in the midst of a divorce. Courts also prefer that the minor children remain in the home whenever possible. Make as few big changes as possible in regard to your children’s day-to-day lives when going through and immediately following a divorce.


2. Being inconsistent.

As children deal with certain inevitable changes that come with divorce, they will search and gravitate toward consistency.  Simple details like school line pick-up and bed times can become increasingly important as children’s lives turn upside down. With all the changes and adjustments going on in the household, work even harder to be a consistent daily presence for your children.  Show up, do what you say you will do, and make them a priority as life throws you both a curveball.


3. Blame game.

There is a reason you are now an ex, and there is a reason you now have an ex.  You will get asked why the divorce is happening; that is unavoidable. Do your kids a favor and forego any opportunity to discuss those reasons with them.   Commentary on why life is changing should be neutral, benign, and minus any finger pointing. When you make the other party the bad guy, you create division that your children can feel.  They’ll feel pressured to choose a side. When a marriage ends, neither party is 100% blameless, so keep the fault discussion out of the conversation. Period.


4. Not writing stuff down.

As you go through the “life” of a divorce, events will occur, misunderstandings will happen, and dynamics will change.  Parties often make the mistake of assuming they will remember the intricacies and details with a fresh memory. You will not.  You will forget a date, a time, a reason something changed, what you said, what they said, where you met…something. Give your brain a break and write things down as they occur.  The journaling can offer a simple way to decompress as stressful situations arise, and the record you keep may be valuable later on in constructing a timeline of events. Taking such a lofty burden off your mind can bring clarity as life shifts into a new chapter.