The Worst Divorce Advice Your Family Ever Gave You

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Older woman giving the worst divorce advice, stares over her glasses near the quote "No enemy is worse than bad (divorce) advice."Your family and friends mean well. They only want what is best for you. So, when your marriage falls apart, they can’t help but give you what they honestly believe is the perfect divorce advice. Only … it’s not. As a matter of fact, all too often, the advice you get from your family and friends is actually the worst divorce advice anyone could possibly give you!

Taking divorce advice from your friends and family is no better than taking medical advice from them. While they may have an opinion about what you should do about that lump that you just found, not checking it out with a medical doctor can really mess you up.

Here are 10 pieces of the worst divorce advice you could ever get … from anyone!

Your Family’s Worst Divorce Advice

1. If your spouse won’t move out of the house, change the locks.

Your home is marital property. Your spouse has just as much right to be there as you do. If you just boot him or her out without first getting permission from the court, you could find yourself in a whole lot of legal hot water.  What’s worse is that a judge might end up ordering you to let your spouse back in anyway! Just think about how wonderful it will feel to be living in the same house with your spouse again after that!

Man watching as he puts a gold coin on a scale to weigh it. Greedy spouse.2. Take all (or most of) the cash from the bank accounts as soon as you know you want a divorce.

That way, your spouse won’t beat you to it. Taking money from a joint bank account without your spouse’s knowledge or consent makes YOU look like the bad guy. It doesn’t matter that the only reason you did it was to protect yourself from your spouse doing the exact same thing. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Before you unilaterally take large sums of money from your bank account, either check with your lawyer, or get your spouse to agree to the withdrawal in writing.

3. Make sure to stash some money on the side that your spouse doesn’t know about, so you have something to start with after your divorce.

While there is nothing wrong with having money available to support yourself after your divorce, hiding that money from your spouse, and pretending it is not there is a big No-No! It is called fraud. If your spouse finds out about it (and a significant percentage of spouses do) not only will you have to give it back, but you may be liable to pay any attorney’s fees your spouse incurred in uncovering the money, too. Plus, your credibility will be totally shot with the judge from that moment forward. Oh, and its also a crime!

4Wife and children stand on one side of a cliff and the husband stands on the other.. Don’t let your spouse see the kids unless s/he is current in child support.

Unless the court has found that your spouse is a danger to the children, s/he has an absolute right to have a relationship with your kids (who, by the way, are your spouse’s kids, too). Child support and parenting time are completely separate. You can’t limit parenting time just because your spouse didn’t pay support. Besides, denying parenting time to your spouse deprives your kids of their relationship with their other parent. While you may think that’s a good thing, is that really what is in your kids’ best interest?

5. Don’t pay your spouse child support unless s/he is letting you spend time with the kids.

Parenting time and child support are independent legal rights. If your spouse isn’t letting you see the kids, you need to either get your spouse to come around, or take your spouse back to court and have the judge to force your spouse to come around. Either way, not paying child support makes you wrong, too. Plus, who do you think you are hurting when your spouse has no money to buy groceries? (HINT: It’s not just your spouse!)

6. Push to get divorced as fast as you can. It will be less expensive.

Yes, the longer your divorce takes, the more it will likely cost. However, pushing your spouse to get divorced quickly, when s/he is not emotionally ready to do so, will not make your divorce go any faster. It will make it go slower. It will make it cost more and lock you in battle. Unless that’s what you want, it’s better to suck it up, take a breath, and let your spouse have the time s/he needs to deal with the divorce.

The word "Revenge" on a red arrow. Many red arrows point the way.7. If your spouse is the one who wanted the divorce, drag it out and make your spouse pay!

Purposely dragging your feet in your divorce is just as bad as pushing to make it happen yesterday. It will drive up your divorce costs and drain your bank account. While you may think that you are making your spouse suffer by doing that, in truth, you are making yourself suffer as well. If your spouse is using assets to pay the bills, that means that there will be less left at the end of your divorce for both of you to divide. Divorce also has an emotional cost as well. That is a cost that you pay, as well as your spouse.

8. Get an aggressive lawyer and file as soon as you can.

This is quite possibly the worst thing you can do when you start your divorce. The minute your spouse sees you have retained a pitbull lawyer, s/he will have no choice but to “lawyer up.”  Your divorce will start with a bang. It’s only likely to get more explosive from there. Instead of making a war of your divorce from the beginning, you would be much wiser to try to go the amicable route first. If that doesn’t work, you can always fight. But, once you have started fighting, it is difficult to pull back.

Close up of a divorce judge's hand banging a gavel in a DIY divorce.9. Don’t get a lawyer – you can do this yourself.

Unless you have no money, no kids, no real estate, and a very short marriage, doing a DIY divorce is a very bad idea. You have no idea how the divorce system works. You don’t know the law. You don’t know how to write the paperwork you will need – or what it should even look like. Plus, you are an emotional wreck. All of that together makes for the perfect storm.  In the end, your DIY divorce can become a financial and legal disaster than can cause serious problems for you for years.

10. Don’t get a divorce. Stay married for the kids (at least until they are out of the house!).

While everyone agrees that having a happy nuclear family is the best way to raise kids, you don’t have a happy nuclear family! If you did, you would not be contemplating divorce. Staying in a bad relationship for the kids teaches the kids that being in a bad relationship is okay. It teaches them to settle. When you ultimately do get divorced the minute they move out of the house, it also makes your kids feel incredibly guilty. Do you think they don’t know they were the reason you stayed?

This is just some of the worst divorce advice that well meaning family and friends can give to you.  Unfortunately, there seems to be no end to the bad divorce advice that even your most well-meaning friends and family whisper in your ear when your marriage is ending.  As much as you appreciate their support, listening to this kind of advice can do you more harm than good.

Do you want to know what the best divorce advice is? … Don’t rely on your family and friends for divorce advice!


Head shot of Karen Covy in an Orange jacket smiling at the camera with her hand on her chin.

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches high net worth professionals and successful business owners to make hard decisions about their marriage with confidence, and to navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about decision-making, divorce, and living life on your terms. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


divorce advice, divorce blog, divorce strategy, divorce tips

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  • Karen my ex is pregnant with someone else kid she told me she never wanted kids with me but she was cheating the whole time I still love her but she is happy I saw her out with the new guy. I am getting help and I went out on a date but I thought of her the whole time

  • Hi Karen I went on a date all I did was talk about my ex and she is happy now and having a baby what did I do wrong she told me to more on it is best I am trying but I love her so much

  • Hi Karen so we went to court everything is done the her new guy came with her and she is 7 months pregnant and I ask him how could he do this it just happen she fell for him they are getting married in June and I hate it so much

  • I email her because I was thinking the baby is my baby so he shows up here telling me she when in early labor because of me and I told him I want a test to see if the baby is mine he says you got to be kidding she did not have sex with you and we did one time so the baby could be mine and he told me I can’t go to hospital and see her at all if something happens to her or the baby I will go to jail he says

    • Ok,

      I know how tough this must be for you. But, if you and your ex-wife are already divorced, and she is now with someone else, it is time to let go. (Sorry! I know that might not be what you want to hear.) I am glad you are getting help. A good therapist can help you deal with how you feel and move on. I don’t mean to be hard on you, but at this point, that is probably what you need to do.

      As for the baby, if there is a chance that it could be yours, you are entitled to get a paternity test to find out. But, the way to do that will be to get a lawyer and go through the court system. You also should look into doing it as soon as possible, as there may be deadlines after which you won’t even be able to use the court system to help you. (I can’t give you legal advice online, so please check with a lawyer in your state.) Of course, using the legal process will be more expensive, but your ex’s new guy has already threatened to have you thrown in jail if you come around. Assume he will do that. Keep your distance from your ex-wife and use the legal system to iron this out.

      Good luck to you.


  • My friend is going through a divorce right now, and he always comes to me for advice. This post was very helpful for me because I want to make sure I give him good information. I liked your advice about making sure to not rush into getting a divorce as fast as you can just to save money. Thanks for sharing this.

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