How 'Bad' Behavior Impacts Divorce

Every unhappy marriage is different. Some couples argue constantly and are miserable. Other couples are calm and polite and show no outward signs of marital strain but the spouses are actually quite unhappy.

As a marriage begins to unravel, often the spouses will start to do things that they wouldn’t normally do. The husband may start hanging out at bars more with his buddies knowing that if his wife knew, it would upset her. A wife might start friending ex-boyfriends on Facebook, hoping to get some attention from the opposite sex that she’s been lacking in her marriage.

Perhaps the husband begins an affair with his 20-something co-worker, while the wife starts maxing out all of the couple’s joint credit cards. Regardless of the spouses’ transgressions, a broken marriage is often a battleground. Filled with anger, jealousy, and resentment, the spouses (without thinking) start doing things that hurt each other, and sometimes themselves in the divorce.

Effects of Hurting One’s Spouse

When spouses discover that their husband or wife is having an affair, or lost all of the couple’s savings to something like online gambling, the innocent spouse’s first urge may be to key their spouse’s car, call up their spouse’s boss and tell them about the inter-office affair, empty the bank accounts and go on a spending spree, or go out and have an affair themselves.

We get it, it’s only natural to want to hurt the person that hurt you, but it’s not wise. When your marriage falls apart because of your spouse’s bad behavior, you must be the bigger person and remain calm, reflective, and strategic.

Even if you need to be alone for a couple of weeks while you get over the shock of your spouse’s terrible actions, you need to make sure that you don’t say or do anything that you’ll later regret. Because, divorce has a brilliant way of making perfectly rational people do irrational things.

In our practice, we’ve seen and heard of spouses making BIG mistakes before and during a divorce, and the consequences were not good.

Here are some of the common mistakes spouses make:

Having extra-marital relations.
Having an affair (physical or emotional) is never a good idea. When the other spouse finds out about the infidelity, they can get extremely upset. Depending on the person, they can tell the couple’s children, the children’s teachers, the family, co-workers, and close friends. Some spouses even take their heartbreak to social media and blast it all over Facebook and Twitter.

Blowing all of the couple’s money.
Financial problems are a huge cause of divorce, especially when one spouse has blown all of the couple’s money on a bad investment, gambling, substance abuse, or living an extravagant lifestyle the couple cannot afford. In a marriage, finances are based on trust and when one spouse is irresponsible with the couple’s money and wastes it away, it can cause such an upset that the innocent spouse files for divorce.

Making mistakes on social media.
When it comes to social medial and divorce, there are definite rules of etiquette. Spouses these days are so addicted to social media, they’re in the habit of posting about the divorce all over social outlets like Facebook. The problem is, almost all divorce attorneys look to a spouse’s social media accounts for evidence and clues.

If you’re fighting over child custody, you should not post pictures of you partying or drinking alcohol. If you do this, you’re not making yourself look like a good parent.

Also, if the divorce isn’t over, don’t change your status to “in a relationship” with your new boyfriend or girlfriend because the judge may think you’re putting dating before your children, and don’t post pictures of your new partner until the divorce is final.

If you’re arguing that you cannot afford to pay spousal support, the last thing you should do is post pictures of you on vacation or pictures of your brand new car. If you do post pictures that make it appear as if you’re quite comfortable spending money, that won’t help your case.

Abusing your spouse and/or children.
If you are physically abusing your spouse or children, you need to STOP. If you are convicted of domestic violence in Los Angeles, your spouse can get a restraining order against you. The restraining order can order you to move out of the family home, to pay child and spousal support, and to relinquish any firearms that you may have.

If domestic violence is proven, your spouse could receive sole custody of the children and you may receive visitation. Depending on the severity of the abuse, you may be able to seek joint custody of the children at a later date if you comply with a series of court orders, for example, you take anger management classes and complete a batterer’s intervention program.

Wasting the marital assets.
Usually, California judges are not particularly concerned with marital misconduct because California is a no-fault divorce state. However, if a spouse truly wastes the marital assets, their conduct can be held against them.

For example, let’s say that Mr. Parker met a beautiful blond at the airport. He struck up an affair with her and in no time, he had spent $20,000 on his girlfriend’s plastic surgery, he bought her a $50,000 car, and he put her up in a $3,000 a month apartment.

When Mrs. Parker found out what was happening, she was naturally livid. She took her husband to court and prevailed. After deciding that Mr. Parker wasted over $100,000 of the couple’s marital assets on the blond, the judge was sure to award an extra $100,000 plus to the wife in the divorce.

Wasting or dissipating marital assets doesn’t have to do with just affairs; it can apply to different situations, including gambling and making other poor financial decisions that are clearly immoral, unethical, or self-serving.

If you have further questions about how marital misconduct may affect child custody, property division, or spousal support, contact our Los Angeles divorce firm!