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Don't make it worse: what not to say during nasty divorce

It is virtually impossible for someone in Colorado to not know someone who is divorced or is going through a divorce. Perhaps it is a family member or a close friend. Some divorces are relatively friendly, during and post-divorce. Others on the other hand, are acrimonious whirlpools which threaten to suck everything into their vortex.

A recent news article about acrimonious divorces gives our Colorado readers some helpful tips about what not to say to someone who is in a nasty high-conflict divorce or who is having post-divorce problems.

This may seem like common sense, but may include some statements that may be new to our readers.

  • "You'll get over it when you have a new significant other." Oddly enough, a new person in the recent divorced person's life often serves to cement who is a so-called good person and who is a so-called bad person.
  • "Use a parenting coordinator." That works for some, but only if both parents agree to work with the coordinator. If one ex-spouse rejects the coordination, the other ex could be simply wasting money.
  • "Your ex has to pay child support. It's the law." Of course this is correct, but not always helpful. Some people will do anything to avoid paying child support including remaining permanently unemployed. It makes no sense, but it happens.
  • "Mom's always get full custody if they want it." This is a myth. Not true.
  • "Don't worry about the horrible things your ex is telling the kids. They will figure out the truth eventually." While this may be true in 20 years, it also may never be true. Parental alienation is a real danger. Consulting with a parental alienation expert could be helpful.
  • "Save the nasty emails and letters. Judges will make your ex pay for that bad behavior." This is also not necessarily true. The courts are busy places and a child in danger will take precedence over general bad manners in terms of court priorities.
  • "Don't let your ex have so much power of you. You're bigger than that." It may not be a good idea to invalidate someone's painful experience. It may be a better idea to simply lend a sympathetic ear.

As we have said in previous posts, divorce is nearly always a difficult time, but it can be made less so when a person understands the process, and has trusted professionals guiding the way.

Source: Huffington Post, "7 Things Never to Say to Someone Going Through a High-Conflict Divorce," Pauline Gaines, July 16, 2012

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