Are you going through a divorce? Follow these guidelines for a smooth process and positive outcome.

Going through a divorce is a life-changing event for all parties involved. It has a profound impact not only on the divorcing couple, but also on their children, extended family members, and friends. This process can be physically and emotionally challenging, but being well-prepared and understanding the process is crucial for successfully navigating this life-changing event.

In recent years, the family court process has undergone significant changes, departing from the conventional arrangement where the father had every other weekend visitation, and the mother usually received custody of the children. Nowadays, the courts aim to establish a fair and balanced parenting plan, favoring equal or close to equal time for both parents. The courts deviate from this position only if it is determined that one parent is incapable of providing proper care for a child. Such situations may arise due to substance abuse, inadequate housing, or evidence of physical or emotional harm inflicted on a child. In some cases, geographical distance between the parents may also hinder a 50/50 custody schedule. Nevertheless, the court strives to find a parenting schedule that allows both parents to spend as much time as possible with their child. The previous arrangement where one parent handled all the drop-offs, pick-ups, and doctor appointments no longer holds true. Both parents must now collaborate and communicate effectively to manage these responsibilities.

As a family law attorney with a decade of experience handling a broad range of cases, I have compiled some top tips for those going through a divorce. Adhering to these recommendations can significantly improve the experience:

Things to avoid while going through a divorce:

  1. Do not post hateful or demeaning content about the other party on social media. Moreover, refrain from creating GoFundMe pages that denigrate a spouse. Such posts can be used in court and negatively impact various aspects of the case. Judges strongly disapprove of such tactics, especially when children are involved.
  2. Remove any photos from social media accounts that depict drinking, illegal substances, or any behavior that can be used in court. Set all social media accounts to private. Adjusting privacy settings alone does not guarantee that a spouse’s attorney won’t be able to obtain the posts during the discovery process. Additionally, avoid posting anything that could be misinterpreted and potentially affect a custody case or property distribution.
  3. Do not attempt to conceal marital assets. A skilled family law attorney will uncover any hidden assets, which could result in losing more or all of the marital assets a person would typically be entitled to.
  4. Be open and honest with the attorney about every pertinent detail. We can only assist our clients if we are aware of all the relevant information. Rest assured, family law attorneys have encountered all kinds of situations, and nothing will surprise them. Secrets always come to light eventually. It is best to disclose everything beforehand rather than having crucial information revealed in court, leaving the attorney in a difficult position to make a defense effectively.
  5. Avoid discussing the divorce with the children. It is unfair to force children to take sides or make decisions about their living arrangements. As children, they should remain neutral. Despite the fact that there may no longer be any romantic feelings for a spouse, the children still love and want to remain connected to both parents.
  6. Refrain from selling or destroying personal items belonging to a spouse without the approval of the attorney or the court. Selling assets should not be done unless authorized.
  7. Do not engage in text message or email fights with the other party. Ignore hateful texts and avoid engaging in similar tit-for-tat behavior. The court will view both parties negatively if such behavior is evident. Refraining from such behavior is crucial for those who find themselves in front of a judge.
  8. Do not change jobs or reduce work hours to avoid paying child support. Such actions can be traced, and the court may determine that income was reduced to evade financial responsibilities. If the court establishes this, wages can still be calculated at a higher level.

Many individuals going through a divorce may begin dating or enter into new relationships before a divorce is finalized. If this applies, it is advisable not to flaunt the new relationship in front of a soon-to-be ex-spouse. The new person in the relationship does not need to be present during exchanges or involved in decisions regarding the children. These matters should remain between the parents. It is important not to introduce children to a new relationship unless it is certain they will be around long-term and to avoid involving random people in their lives.

Moving in with a new boyfriend or girlfriend immediately following a divorce is not recommended. This can confuse children and strain a relationship with them during this transitional period.

Lastly, refrain from excessive drinking or using illegal substances while going through a divorce. The court may require a drug test, and a positive result could significantly affect the custody arrangement.

Things to do when preparing for divorce or during the divorce process:

  1. Catalog significant items in the home, such as furniture, electronics, outdoor equipment, tools, and recreational items that hold value.
  2. Get copies of the last three years’ tax returns and any W-2 forms.
  3. Locate copies of property deeds and vehicle titles registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  4. Compile a comprehensive list of assets and debts. Remember that assets acquired during the marriage are deemed marital assets, even if only one spouse’s name appears on the title. Non-marital assets are those acquired before the marriage without any commingling of marital funds. The attorney will review these details and determine if any property can be classified as non-marital.
  5. Keep a calendar and document any issues or conflicts that are encountered with a spouse. Avoid confronting a spouse about these issues, as it may lead to further disputes. Share this information with the attorney, who can determine how it may affect the case.
  6. If one person in the marriage has already begun living separately, attempt to establish a schedule that ensures the children spend equal time with both parents. However, this recommendation is only suitable if both parents maintain a safe and proper living environment for the children. Remember, children observe how to behave and treat the other parent during this difficult time. They are also struggling and require support.
  7. Consult with the attorney before agreeing to any terms with a spouse regarding the division of property or arrangements concerning the children. A person may unwittingly agree to terms that go beyond what the court would require.
  8. Prioritize self-care. It is crucial to ask for help and engage in activities that reduce stress levels.

Following these guidelines can help make the divorce process smoother and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome. By acting responsibly and keeping the best interests of all parties involved in mind, people can begin to navigate this challenging period successfully.

This post is sponsored by Silvey & Associates. Angela Silvey is based in Jefferson City, Missouri, and is licensed to practice law in the State of Missouri and licensed to practice in the United States District Court for the Eastern and Western District of Missouri. Learn more about Silvey & Associates at