Divorce is difficult for all parties involved, including husband, wife and sadly the children. Everyone’s situation is unique but there are some common pitfalls and mistakes that are more commonly encountered by men. In this post I will explore some of the most common challenging situations and mistakes made by men in divorce cases.
Mistake #1 – Agreeing to Very Bad Financial Divorce Terms
When it is the husband who wants the divorce and wife does, not it is understandable that the husband would feel a sense of guilt over wanting out. In this situation sole-breadwinner husbands will frequently respond to this sense of guilt by agreeing to extremely bad financial terms. Sometimes this includes future obligations that severely over extend them for a decade or more in the future.
While this may appease their guilt somewhat in the short term it can also cause long-term problems. Examples I have seen include men in their late 50’s giving away all of the assets leaving them with no retirement savings as they rapidly approach retirement age. I have also seen cases where the husband agrees to an alimony payout grossly above the maximum alimony caps and stretching future resources to the breaking point. If you are in this situation remember that you are going to have to permanently live with whatever you agree to in your divorce, so the terms need to reached based on practical considerations not emotion.
Mistake #2 – Fighting for Primary Custody for the Wrong Reasons
There are a lot more contested custody disputes than there should be. I will probably upset some people by saying this but your spouse having an affair is by itself not enough of a reason to fight for custody. Being an unfaithful spouse is wrong but it does not automatically make you a bad parent.
In a typical case it is fairly obvious to all involved who has been primarily responsible for taking care of the kids and the best thing that can happen is that a workable access arrangement between the parties gets agreed to. Fighting for custody for financial reasons or as a way to get back at your spouse is a bad idea and one that can turn your case into a financial and emotional nightmare not just for the parties, but for the children as well.
Mistake #3 – Not Getting a Geographical Residency Restriction
In Texas the presumption is that it is in the children’s best interests that they live within a reasonable distance of both parents. A lot of moms do not like this as it restricts their right to move, thus potentially hindering their future career or that of a new spouse. This statute dramatically changed the way things worked as compared to 20 years ago.
Before this statute was enacted the primary parent (usually mom) typically had the unfettered right to move the kids anywhere at any time. It didn’t matter that such a move would dramatically reduce the father’s role in his children’s lives and the effect this would have on the kids, the mother simply had this right. Well, this is one area where the father’s rights movement has had a significant impact and the law has changed 180 degrees. Now, most Decrees include a provision restricting the primary parent to a relatively small geographical area (usually the county of divorce plus the contiguous counties) unless the non-primary parent moves out of that area. If you are an involved father you definitely want to make sure that any Final Decree includes this provision.
There are many other pitfalls that are unique to men going through a divorce. If you have any you would like to add, or questions to ask, just add them in the comment section below.