Over the years, our firm has published dozens of
articles on all the various things spouses can do to have a successful
divorce. But if you’re like most people, you’ve heard your share of
divorce horror stories. Many people can rattle off stories of women who
took their husbands to the cleaners, people who were financially ruined
after their divorce, and the most tragic, parents who were victims of
parental alienation after their divorce.
Are all these war stories true? There’s probably a lot of truth to
what you’ve heard, but that doesn’t mean that divorce is a
bad word. It doesn’t mean that your divorce will be ugly. We can
definitely attest that we have personally counseled countless clients
who have had good divorces that ended well and did not lead to financial
or emotional ruin.
What we want to impress upon you is that with your divorce, there is a
lot that you can control. You can control what you say and do. You can
control what divorce agreement you accept. You can control your behavior
and how you treat your soon to be ex. Contrary to popular belief, spouses
have a lot more control than they typically think.
The problem is that a lot of people let their emotions instead of their
heads control their thoughts and more importantly, their
actions before, during, and after their divorces. That said, which actions hurt,
not help your divorce? Because they’ve never been through divorce
before, too many people just don’t know the answer. They don’t
know what “bad behavior” will ultimately harm their divorce
and they end up making irreversible mistakes.
Divorce: It’s Just Business
Getting a divorce? Don’t engage in the following behaviors:
It is very common for spouses, especially wives, to get angry at their
soon-to-be-ex just prior to divorce proceedings and to go and max out
the credit cards. If you are thinking about doing this, please don’t.
Even though it’s technically considered a “marital debt”
if the debt is incurred during the marriage, a judge can examine the recent
expenditures and determine that you intentionally and knowingly wasted
marital assets. In effect, the judge could order you to pay the whole
debt back yourself.
Ranting on Social Media
We’ll tell you right now that a collaborative divorce is a lot less
stressful and expensive than a litigated divorce. If you decide to rant
about your husband or wife on Facebook for example, and he or she sees
your posts (which is easy to do if someone screenshots your post), it
can send them into a rage and suddenly they’re playing hardball
and making things difficult at every turn.
Misconduct on Social Media
If you choose to drink, party, or date during your divorce proceedings,
please do not post about your escapades on social media. What you do is
your business and you may need to blow off some steam, but it’s
important that you do not post pics on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter,
or social media in general.
You can block or defriend your spouse, but there’s no guarantee that
a mutual friend or family member or your ex with a fake account won’t
see it. Once it’s on the internet, it’s impossible to erase
your tracks. So, in an effort to keep the peace and have a less stressful
divorce, avoid posting pics of you drinking, partying, making big purchases,
hanging out with your new partner, and the like. If you don’t want
your spouse to see it, don’t post it until after the divorce is final.
Hiding Assets from Your Spouse
When people start mentally preparing for a divorce, one of the things they
do, especially men, is move, transfer or hide assets from their spouse.
This is especially common with spouses who handle the finances. They’ll
start to hide assets that are “community property” or by law, part of the marital estate, from their spouse so they
don’t get their fair share.
If you’re considering hiding assets, don’t. Not only is it
unethical, but the judge will find out about it and it will discredit
you. During divorce proceedings, you must be 100% honest about your assets
and debts; you cannot conceal assets because if you do, it will not end
well. It will backfire.
Taking Too Long to Provide Financial Records
If you are a CEO or a senior level executive, you are probably
very busy.You probably have direct access to all of your financial account information,
but you probably don’t have a lot of time to produce it and hand
it over to your divorce attorney. This may be your reality, but you cannot
delay in getting your financial records to your lawyer.
If you are a busy professional, you’ll either need to delegate the
information gathering process to an assistant, or you’ll need to
carve time out of your busy schedule to collect the data yourself. Because,
if you delay, the court can begin to believe that you’re hiding
something and substantial delays can be detrimental to your case.
Moving Out of the House
Do you want custody of the kids or at the very least
50/50 joint custody? If so, we do not recommend moving out of the house yet. Living with your
spouse may be next to impossible, but if you move out prematurely, you’re
telling the court, “My spouse is a good parent and I trust them
to be with the kids full-time.”
You see, judges don’t like to interrupt the status quo and if your
children are happy and thriving, a judge is inclined to leave things as
they are. So, if you truly want the kids to live with you most, if not
all of the time, moving out can derail your child custody plans. If you’re
in a rush to move out, don’t do it until your divorce attorney secures
child custody order from the court that will help further, not hinder your goals.
Divorce & the Road to Rising Above
At Claery & Hammond, LLP, our Los Angeles divorce team is here to help you.
Please contact us to schedule your
free case evaluation.