When participating in a divorce proceeding, there are many pitfalls. Here is a short list to help you navigate the tricky territory.
Mistake #1: This is a chance to satisfy a personal vendetta.
Truth: This is a business transaction. You hire an attorney, they file the legal papers, and you write the check. This is not a time to whine about how unfair it is, how bad of a person your spouse is/was, and how much you dislike them. The court understands that you don't like each other. You are getting divorced. If you want to spend your life savings trying to prove that you are right and the other person is going to be punished by the court, go for it. But it is unlikely you will succeed. Take the money and go on a vacation after it's all over. You will feel better.
Mistake #2: The kids are better off with you.
Truth: Except in extreme situations, which the court will certainly recognize, a child needs two parents. Kids who grow up in single parent homes often have major issues, due to a lack of role models, and many other issues, which you could spend a ton of money on psychologists to list for you. Keep in mind that you can use a break every now and then, too. Letting the kids spend the weekend with their father is a nice chance for you to go on vacation. Enjoy your time alone and let the kids have their relationship with their father. This is not about you anymore. You divorced the other parent, but the kids didn't. Let go of your control issues and enjoy your life.
Mistake #3: Your spouse is being reasonable, and you don't need a lawyer.
Truth: Even people with the best of intentions are not going to be objective in this situation. If you think that you will be able to settle it with only a mediator, think again. At the very least, go talk to a family law attorney. Even if you don't have to go to court, you need someone who is totally objective to help you figure out the best plan of action. This is not about hurting the other person, it is about helping yourself. Be smart and drive your own vehicle. If you don't, you may end up having to hire someone anyway, years down the road, and by then it will be too late to demand back support and you will be angry with yourself for being so gullible.
Mistake #4: Your life doesn't have to change.
Truth: Don't you WANT your life to change? Chances are, you have been unhappy and unfulfilled for quite some time, even if it was on a subconscious level. Go out, enjoy your life, get a fun new job where you can flex your creative muscles, join a hiking group, or do something else that you haven't ever considered before. This is your chance to focus on YOU. Embrace the change because it is, after all, inevitable.
Mistake #5: You are totally done with your ex spouse.
Truth: If you have children with this person, you will never be done with them. You are forever connected by the school events, sports, relationships, and every custody exchange. You might as well make the best of it, because if you choose to remain adversarial, the kids will suffer, more than you will ever know. Many adult children of divorce choose to avoid both parents, because the stress of dealing with the parent's interaction is just too painful. Keep your relationship with your kids separate from how you feel about your ex. You're divorced, you don't like each other, everyone already knows. Move on. Be happy with your new life and love your kids.
Many couples deal with levels of betrayal, hurt, abuse, and fear. The other person is not to blame for your unhappiness. EVER. You have to rise above your hurt and pain, and think about what you want to create for your next phase of life. Be excited and happy! Create the life you want, by putting energy into your desires. If you put energy into past circumstances, you are living in the past. You can't control what your ex does, but you can certainly not participate by reacting.