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Things a Man Should Never Do When Getting Divorced

Ending a marriage is hard enough without these common mistakes

Ball and chain with wedding ring
Paul Spella

Yay, divorce! Blast that Iggy Pop! Crank up that Tinder app! Let a weed garden blossom where once those stupid miniature roses grew! As the Catskills comedians used to say, “Why is divorce so expensive? Because it’s worth it!”

Okay, fine, there’s also the loneliness, the feelings of failure and seeing the kids only every other weekend — if they can be bothered. Divorce is a weird mix of exile and adventure, of mourning the past while diving into a bright new future. Of getting over her, possibly by getting under her ... and her ... and her.

In other words, if you’re going through it, enjoy it. Just don’t be an idiot. Should you find yourself gazing into the happily-never-after handbook, consider these five divorce “don’ts” to keep your sanity when the only solution is dissolution. 

Don’t: Call a lawyer

At least not immediately. Attorneys cost each side, on average, $15,500 and usually aren’t necessary. 

“Eighty percent of the disagreements in divorce court don’t even require legal intervention,” says Jonathan Verk, co-founder of Hyphenus, whose apps connect users with retired family law judges and court professionals to draft legal agreements without high-priced counsel. 

A mediator, or even a “collaborative lawyer,” who agrees to an expedient out-of-court resolution almost always saves time and cuts costs significantly. “If you decide to litigate, assume 30 percent or more of your net worth will go to the lawyer,” Verk says. 

Don’t: Get people to ‘like’ your divorce

Anything you say on social media can be used against you in divorce. Calling out your ex on Facebook sparks resentment and can even be viewed as harassment, says Matthew Fray, a relationship coach and author of the forthcoming book This Is How Your Marriage Ends.

Rants are worse if kids are involved. “It’s easy to make the breakup about Me versus the Queen of Mean,” says Fray. “But it simply degrades the trust between child and parent, and it escalates toxic feelings.”

Don’t: Run off with someone half your age

“Give yourself time to be single,” Verk says. And hopping into a serious relationship with a much younger person is an excellent way to get started on your next divorce. An Emory University study of 3,000 married people found that people five years apart in age are 18 percent more likely to break up than those less than a year apart. Couples with a 10-year age gap are 39 percent more likely to dissolve. 

Don’t: Buy that vintage Mustang

Tempting as it is to comfort yourself with a gleaming new toy, “Major purchases are huge red flags,” says Verk. Big-ticket items raise questions about where the money came from, your emotional state and who ultimately gets to keep that bad boy. “It’s not worth it, and you might even lose it.” 

Don’t: Avoid the feels

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe compiled a now-famous list of the 43 most stressful life events that likely cause illness in adults. Divorce ranked number 2, behind the death of a spouse. 

“Unless you’re escaping an abusive relationship, divorce is going to be a net negative — emotionally, financially, physically, and spiritually,” Fray says. “Use this time to take an inventory of what went wrong and what you might want to correct or change.”

Also, he adds, “Try not to eat a bunch of ice cream.”