Your Behavior During Divorce Can Make A Difference
Your actions and attitude may determine how you and your children make it through this difficult time. At The Clark Law Firm, P.C. - Attorney at Law, we give our divorce clients the following tips.
Assume You Are Being Taped
Your conduct during the divorce process will affect your case. Whether you do well, both legally and personally, will depend in large part on your attitude and conduct during the pendency of the case. When you speak, act or react, keep in mind how it will look in the cold, harsh light of a courtroom. One of the best ways to help yourself stay calm is to assume that you are being taped or videotaped at all times. This is not a time to take chances.
Do Not Date
This looks bad to the court and fuels the fire of your spouse. If you absolutely have to break this rule, do not under any circumstances allow your children in the presence of a date or “new friend.” Further, we suggest that if you believe the risk of dating to be worth it during this time frame, then you should not do so where other friends, relatives or your spouse can see you. Wait until after the divorce to bring new partners into the picture.
It may be in your best interest to wait until after your divorce to join a dating app or site such as Bumble, Tinder or Hinge. Joining one of these sites while still married could be proof of infidelity, even if you have separated from your spouse.
Do Not Disparage The Other Parent
If you have children, our preference is that you do not engage in bad-mouthing your spouse to anyone except in the secluded presence of a therapist’s office or a private diary. In our experience, children pick up on even the slightest inflection in your voice. Any disapproval of the other parent diminishes your child’s self-esteem more than you can imagine. Even very young children are affected by negative attitudes and words. Fake it if you have to, but this time, do it for your children. This kind of negative behavior will come back to haunt you both in your case and with your children. Just don’t do it.
Ranting about your ex-spouse may make you feel better, but try to avoid doing it on social media. Making your criticisms public for the world to see could come back to hurt you during your divorce. If your remarks go as far as to threaten your ex-spouse, spread false rumors about him or her, or criticize his or her abilities as a parent, it could enter your case as evidence against you. Inflammatory remarks could also incite your spouse into making the divorce more difficult for you that it has to be. Remember, deleting a social media post or deactivating your account will not be enough to erase what you post. An investigator can still access deleted activity.
Do Keep A Journal
A journal is most important in a case involving children. The things the court will want to know about include the times the children spend with each parent, who is picking up and delivering, and whether the exchanges are timely and civil. If you record events or things said at or about the time they happen, that is usually admissible in evidence and may show a pattern of behavior that needs to be addressed. (Remember, we may want to give your journal to the court, so you may need a separate diary for private thoughts.)
Do Not Dispose Of Property Or Spend Money
Finances are tight enough during a divorce, as each party adjusts to living in two separate households. Don’t buy anything but necessities, and don’t dispose of property, money or threaten your spouse with doing so. Don’t pay more than the normal scheduled payments on bills, notes or loans unless there is a court order in place directing you to do otherwise.
Don’t Waste Your Money And Energy On Vengeance
Negative emotions in a divorce or post-divorce action, such as hostility, anger and revenge, can cause your case to become needlessly expensive. Perspective and objectivity can promote a speedy, courteous and swift resolution of your case, thereby reducing the cost of the overall proceeding.
We cannot tell you how many times we have heard the phrase, “it’s a matter of principle; I won’t compromise on this.” We have seen cases where a fair and equitable resolution could be reached, but both parties remained at an impasse with respect to one single item which they felt held a certain significance. Because of this “matter of principle,” thousands of additional dollars were expended.
There may be many factors and issues surrounding the reason you may feel indignation, anger and resentment toward your spouse or ex-spouse. Because of these emotions, it may be your desire to punish your spouse or ex-spouse by making the proceedings as difficult, time-consuming and lengthy as possible. These types of cases, in many instances, turn into “no-win” situations. If both parties maintain a balance of perspective, with a realistic concept of what is reasonable and equitable, and in the best interest of the children, less money and emotional energy will be spent on legal fees. One of the key factors in resolving and settling a divorce or post-divorce action is the desire and the ability of both parties to set aside differences and past hurts. Only the attorneys are rewarded monetarily in a lengthy and bitter divorce or post-divorce action.
Be Prepared To Provide Financial And Personal Information
During your divorce or post-divorce action, an exchange of information will be required; this exchange is called “Discovery” and is accomplished in a variety of methods. One of the most time-consuming and expensive areas of discovery is the exchange and analysis of various documents, such as bank statements, canceled checks, tax returns, various types of written communication, utility bills and charge card statements. Once we receive a formal request for such documents, we will then notify you of the various documents which your spouse or ex-spouse’s attorney has requested. Thereafter, we have 30 days to comply with such a request. However, we require you to get the documents to us within 14 to 20 days in order to allow us enough time to organize and properly prepare our response.
You can elect to bring us the documents in boxes and brown paper grocery bags mixed together. But it would take our staff an entire week to sift through and organize that information which was specifically requested from the extraneous information and rubbish. Your bill would jump in direct proportion to the amount of time expended in accomplishing that task. The most expedient way to comply with a request for a list of documents is to study the list and to organize and furnish the documents requested according to each category on the list.
Some of our clients have access to copying or scanning facilities and are able to make duplicate or digital copies of the material, thereby saving fees which would otherwise be incurred. We are, of course, prepared and equipped to perform all of the tasks connected with the discovery process, but how much we do depends largely on the wishes of the client and how much value the client places on reducing the amount of the final bill. Providing the documents to us in a portable document format (pdf) is preferred as when we produce these documents, in final form, it will be in pdf.
Stay Off Social Media Or At Least Limit Your Postings
Updating your friends and family about your divorce on social media may seem innocent enough … until your ex-spouse brings printed-out tweets to court to use as evidence against you during a custody battle. What you post on social media is not privileged information. It is available to the public and can be used against you during a divorce case. Be careful what you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat – or stay off social media altogether until a judge has finalized the split. A bad social media habit could end up influencing a judgment against you.
Showing Off New Purchases
A key concern during most divorce cases is property division. A judge will divide marital assets based on what appears fair for each spouse. If you try to diminish your income on paper by purchasing items such as sports cars or vacation homes, do not post about it on social media. Your spouse could use these updates as proof that you are not being honest about how much you make. If a judge believes you guilty of hiding assets, it could be detrimental to your side of the divorce case.
Posting Party Pics
It can be tempting to show off how well you are doing post-split with photos or videos of you partying, but avoid posting anything like this to social media sites. Your spouse could use pictures of you at a party or club to degrade your character during a custody battle. Your spouse may be able to use it as proof of substance or alcohol use on your part – habits that will not impress a judge trying to determine which parent is most responsible. Your spouse could even take a casual photo of you having a beer at a baseball game out of context for custody purposes, so be careful what you and your friends post.
Sharing Location Information
Avoid checking into places such as bars, casinos, strip clubs or the hottest new restaurant on social media sites during a divorce. A history of location sharing in such establishments could serve as proof that you are an irresponsible parent during a custody dispute. It could also serve as proof of your financial stability if you are trying to fight for spousal maintenance. Tell your friends not to tag you in any location updates or photos. Everyone in your life should be on the same page about what not to post on social media. Going dark on social media for a few months during your divorce can be well worth the break. It could help you avoid serious pitfalls.