Divorce is likely to be one of the most stressful and emotionally challenging processes you will ever experience. No matter how you and your spouse arrived at the decision to divorce or what motive your spouse had for filing for divorce, it’s vital to be realistic about the situation you now face and determine the best way to approach it. Unfortunately, the emotional side of divorce encourages many people to make crucial mistakes that cost them dearly as their divorce cases unfold. If you are preparing to divorce, review the following common mistakes, so you know what not to do in this situation.

Don’t Post About Your Divorce on Social Media

As a general rule, if you are involved in any kind of legal case, you should avoid social media entirely until your case reaches a conclusion. The things you post on social media are publicly accessible and can influence an active legal case in many ways. You may want to vent frustrations or talk to friends about your situation, but you should avoid doing so at all times until you have your divorce order in hand. It would be relatively easy for your spouse to use posts against you in unexpected ways. While it’s fine to passively browse your social media feeds, refrain from posting anything at all, even if it is not related to your divorce, until your case has concluded.

Don’t Move Out of the Family Home Until Your Divorce Is Finalized

It’s common for divorcing spouses to separate before formally divorcing, but this isn’t always advisable. For example, a couple decides to divorce, and one spouse moves out of the house, believing they are demonstrating good faith and providing the other spouse with time and space. The other spouse could turn around and accuse them of abandoning the family. Divorce can cause emotional tension to build very quickly and compel some divorcing spouses into unexpected spiteful behaviors. It is imperative that you do not move out of the family home if you have children; this will make it much easier for your spouse to obtain greater custody rights and will inherently cast you in a bad light as your divorce unfolds.

Once you have completed your divorce and have your divorce order in hand, then you and your spouse can proceed with reorganizing your living arrangements. Depending on how your divorce unfolded, one of you may have obtained ownership rights over the family home, or you may need to sell the home and split the proceeds. You are most likely to secure a fair result when it comes to both property division and child custody if you wait to move out until you are sure that you must.

Don’t Try to Hide Assets

While it may be hard to bear the thought of your spouse taking half of the marital assets you have obtained during your marriage, it is imperative that you do not try to hide assets or attempt to illegally shield them from property division. Doing so will not only reflect poorly upon you once your activities are discovered, but you could also potentially face criminal penalties for this behavior. Most states in the Midwest uphold equitable distribution laws for property division in divorce, so being honest and transparent with your financial disclosure is the best method of ensuring an equitable outcome from your divorce proceedings.

If you have concerns about property division, consult your attorney about your financial questions, and they can help you determine the best way to ensure a reasonable outcome. They may also help you take advantage of alternative dispute resolution so you can secure a more individualized property settlement than you could through litigation.

Don’t Try to Turn Your Kids Against Their Other Parent

Child custody and child support are some of the most contentious issues of any divorce. Unfortunately, some parents allow their personal issues with their spouses to influence their relationships with their children. It’s natural to want to secure the greatest custody rights you possibly can but trying to weaponize your child against their other parent is a bad idea for several reasons. First and foremost, doing so will inevitably hurt your relationship with your children. If they discover that you lied to them about their other parent and their relationship with their other parent suffered because of it, they will resent you for this, and you will lose their trust. If you attempt to use child custody as a bargaining chip in divorce proceedings, this will also work against you; once your children discover this, they will think you don’t truly value them.

If you want to secure the greatest custody rights you possibly can, the best thing you can do during divorce proceedings is to continue being the best parent you can. Attend school and social events with your kids and make as much time as you can for them.

Don’t Neglect the Importance of Legal Counsel

It’s common for people heading into a divorce to believe they can handle these complex proceedings on their own, only to discover difficult legal questions they cannot answer by themselves. Hiring an attorney may be expensive, but ultimately your legal team will help you reach a much more agreeable outcome to your divorce than you could have secured without legal counsel.

An experienced divorce attorney can assist with document gathering and fact-finding, consult expert witnesses on your behalf, help you take advantage of divorce mediation, and provide a wide range of additional services that will streamline your divorce case in surprising ways.

It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the divorce process, but do not let these feelings lead you to make critical mistakes that can jeopardize the outcome of your divorce case. Ultimately, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and to ensure the best possible outcome for your divorce is to hire an experienced attorney to represent you. If you have questions or concerns about your impending divorce or simply want to start the process with the best information and resources, contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.