We know that there are way more than five “top” divorce no-nos.  The real, exhaustive divorce “To-Don’t” list is truly quite a lengthy one.  In fact, it may be never-ending.  No one has all of the right answers and everyone’s order is going to be rather different in terms of their applied importance.  As we usually do, this is no real particular order, though our number one is always a good one to call “number one” due to the implications for the children and we’re all about exercising caution when it comes to helping you to maximize your child custody time.

1. Don’t take it out on the children and/or put the children in the middle.

Easy to say, not often easy to do when your emotions get the best of you.  Reality is that you’re still the adult.  They are the kids and they didn’t ask for any of the mess in which you’re currently involved.  Find a higher level of self-control.  The kids will have a tough enough time dealing with all of the upset associated with the divorce and the child custody proceedings.

The children are going to need a supportive environment as free from stress as you, the parent, can make it for them.   Take moments with the children to find ways to relax at the movies, a trip to the zoo, a sporting event, sitting down and reading books.  All the kids want is to love both parents and have the love of both parents.  The security of the family unit has been shattered and they will need extra care to make it though the best that they can.

2. Avoid adding to your debt load.

Depending upon the timing of your divorce and/or custody proceedings, you might find yourself wanting to be all things to all people.  Around the holidays, you might feel compelled to keep up appearances and maintain the same standard of generosity as you have previously.  The kids may have birthdays coming up or your usual vacation week fast approaches.  Unfortunately for everyone, divorce and child custody fights are very expensive undertakings.  If it is a prolonged effort, you’re going to need every dollar you can to see it through.  Further, setting up and maintaining a new household with only a single income is in your future.  Adding debt now could prevent you from putting yourself and the children in the best position possible to move on with your lives when it’s over.

3. Don’t give up on collaborative divorce or mediation.

If this has been tried and failed, you could probably move right on.  If this hasn’t been tried and you’re in the throes of a high-conflict divorce and/or child custody, we understand how you might believe it’s impossible.  Depending upon your individual circumstances, it might be worth a try when you can take a look absent in the involvement of attorneys or negative advocates.  Sometimes the objective third-party is just what such a conflict needs to move forward.

4. Avoid settling for less child custody than you want and deserve.

If you’ve done nothing that would constitute presenting as a danger to raising your children, then work hard to get the custody that you deserve and have a right to (as do your children).  Sadly, lopsided outcomes happen all of the time despite there being no evidence of a lack of parental fitness, no lack of willingness on the part of one parent, no lack of involvement in the children’s lives, and certainly no lack of love.

The fight can be exhausting.  Turning away the deluge of false allegations, spending all of your money (and sometimes other people’s money), dealing with severe parental alienation, makes every battle feels like an uphill one.  We won’t lie and say that a decision to just stop the madness is always a wrong one.  We know that your relationship with your children and their relationship with you is so very important for them to grow up successfully – be sure that you’ve done the very best you can.

5. Don’t refuse to see a counselor or a therapist.

The loss of a marriage and of the substantial parenting time that is a part of an intact household is a devastating loss, comparable to the loss of a loved one.  This is true no matter how glad you may be that the marriage is over.  A lot of hopes and dreams have fallen by the wayside.  A new life, one that was not planned, and one with significant life changes involved is about to begin.  Seeing a therapist or a counselor can help you manage the range of emotions that you will undoubtedly experience throughout this process.

Depression can be debilitating.  Uncontrollable anger can be dangerous.  A therapist is not simply someone you talk to. They are professionals who can help you process your emotions so that you come through this health, both mentally and physically.  They can teach you relaxation techniques, age appropriate ways to talk to your children about circumstances, and how to remain calm in court.  Those things and so much more are far more important than any embarrassment or shame that you could possibly feel for making what is ultimate a very smart decision both for you and your children.  I did it.  You can, too.