10th Jun 2019

The way you behave now, at your most hurt and angry, unfortunately, may determine how things shake out during your divorce. Just assume that the settlement negotiated (or the court ruling) will be tailored to this person you are now and not your best self.

That means whatever impulses you have in this uniquely stressful time are likely not in your best interest—even if you might indeed hate your spouse forever after. Here are five common impulse behaviors—“don’ts”— with far more downside than upside for a successful divorce:

1. “Hiding” or Getting Rid of Money or other Assets

It is best to assume that there is no way to really hide money or recklessly burn through it without having to answer for that behavior later.

There is something called “discovery” during trial, a backdated ability to see all your paper trail and banking or investment activities; they will see all the moves you made. If they find you have been “dissipating assets,” it will be brought up at trial, and the Judge will not look kindly on hiding funds from your spouse.

Beyond setting money aside for basic living, you can get into trouble deciding what you “deserve” from family funds. A stay-at-home mom, for instance, needs to prepare for divorce, planning to have enough money to survive and pay legal expenses. But, you can’t use it for anything extravagant. It’s for paying bills and putting food on the table for you and your kids. Additionally, you need to disclose the existence of this money when answering your discovery.

2. Dating

They call it a rebound because there are few short-term gratifications more intoxicating than dating. Usually, with a separation it’s not just about dating: it’s often about punishing the other person or forgetting them. Whether or not you both deserve it, dating is a bad idea before you are officially divorced.

“What is ‘dating?’” you might ask. Let’s say it’s a one-on-one encounter that has romantic potential to either of you. Here’s why you should avoid dating:

Even if the two of you agree the marriage is ending, your soon-to-be-ex could still cite your dates as a reason the marriage failed, which means the judge could give that spouse more assets.

If your spouse is suspicious that this was actually an affair that occurred before separation, he/she could have your friends or romantic acquaintances subpoenaed to testify at trial. Anything they say can, of course, be used against you.

It can make the spouse/children feel further betrayed and want to retaliate.

3. Using Kids as Messengers or Spies

Using children to gather or exchange information with your spouse is a bad idea during a separation or after divorce. It is an added responsibility to carry (or report) important news, and to witness the consequences of that news. Divorce is hard enough for them without being in the crossfire. The stress could make one parent the villain and affect the child’s grades, social lives, and ability to trust.

If you need to communicate with a spouse and feel tempted to use a child, just use email and agree that you will resolve issues there.

4. Taking the Kids Out of the Home

Family law judges are most of all on the kids’ side. They like to see the least disruption possible, and they don’t like it when a parent removes children from the family home (unless there are special circumstances).

Further, this could be considered “parental alienation” by the judge if it seems you are trying to eliminate the other parent from their lives. Needless to say, this can make you a villain into the divorce and beyond.

5. Confiding or Venting to Mutual Friends

You may not have many exclusive friends, those who are not also beholden to your spouse, to whom you can confide plans and impulses regarding financial and personal decisions. Resist the urge; it could spoil friendships and complicate a fair settlement. Gather these ideas, write them down, and discuss them in your next planned legal meeting to see which ones are actionable.

Before you take ANY of the above actions, it would be best for you to talk to an experienced divorce attorney about your situation.

The good thing about Semmes Law Firm is we are not interested in your short-term gratification, but instead in getting you the best settlement as quickly as possible. Contact us today.

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