3 Mistakes Made by Men During Divorce
In our last post, I looked at three mistakes typically made by women during divorce, so now it’s time to focus on the men. (Yes, men do make mistakes sometimes!)
Pursuing a new romantic relationship immediately after separation or while the divorce is pending
While this seems to be obvious, it is by far the most common mistake I see in the practice of family law. Therapists point to men’s loneliness as the main reason for this pattern. More often than not, the man is the one who leaves the marital home and sets up a separate residence, typically spending most of his time without the children or anyone for that matter. So, when loneliness sets in, he seeks comfort in a new relationship. While this may bring temporary comfort and companionship, it can create more problems than it is worth. First, it is difficult to demonstrate that your children are a priority to you when you’re spending all or most of your free time (and probably your monetary resources) on a new relationship. Second, the old adage is usually true, “rebound” relationships rarely stand the test of time. And finally, divorce and the adjustment to single-parenthood and co-parenting takes an enormous amount of time and attention. If you are giving that time and attention to someone outside of your former family unit, you are doing a disservice to everyone involved. If you believe your newfound love is “the one,” explain that you need this time to focus on getting your life and your children’s lives settled first. If the relationship is meant to be, they will wait. If they will not respect your wishes or continue to pursue their own agenda, they probably really aren’t “the one.”
Suffering from “Disneyland Dad Syndrome”
There is something about divorce and taking on a new co-parenting or visitation schedule that can turn even some of the best dads into just a giant playmate for their children. There is certainly nothing wrong with the occasional trip to an amusement park or kids’ museum to enjoy an afternoon of play with your children, but doing this every time you have visitation with them is setting everyone up for failure. First, the children learn that Mom is the “bad cop” in their lives. She’s the one who has to enforce chores, responsibilities, going to church, doing homework, writing thank you notes, brushing teeth, eating healthy, and going to bed at a reasonable time. But Dad? He’s the one who plays with the kids. He’s the one who lets kids have cotton candy for breakfast, Cheetos for lunch, and no nap time. He will win them giant stuffed animals no matter how much money it takes to keep playing the game and he believes that rules and a routine are boring. Is it fun in the moment? Absolutely! But what about the father the children need to teach them important life lessons and skills? Who will teach the children that rules should be followed consistently, even on most weekends? And above all else, who else can demonstrate to the children that fathers value the day-to-day routines of their lives just as much as mothers do? Children of all ages need a mature, responsible (and fun-loving) male role model. If all they see of Dad is 100% fun, games, and zero responsibility, then that becomes their view of men in the world. Don’t do that to your children.
Not Taking His Attorney’s Advice
Men can be terrible about this. Maybe it’s because many of them are in positions of responsibility and control in their work lives, so they naturally believe that they know and can handle their divorce better than anyone else. However, no man has handled as many divorce cases as his attorney has. Therefore, listen to and follow through on the advice given by your attorney. You’re paying for it, so you should make good use of it. The advice he or she may offer is given with a specific purpose in mind – protecting your interests. The case will be difficult enough fighting the opposing side, don’t make it worse for everyone by forcing your attorney to fight against you, too.
Ben Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and he is a Board-Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He has represented parents in child custody and other Family Court cases all across South Carolina for over twenty-five years. If you or someone you know is facing a child custody or visitation case, contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule a consultation.
Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
ABOUT J. BENJAMIN STEVENS
Ben.Stevens@offitkurman.com | 864.598.9172
Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina. His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 15 offices and nearly 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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