You could’ve been dreaming about a divorce for years, but once it becomes a reality, you’re suddenly hit with emotions you don’t know how to handle – fear, anger, sadness, guilt, hopelessness, and numbness. You may even feel paralyzed or like you’re in shock. Your mind is blank, and you don’t know how to think, act, or feel.
As time goes by, the paralyzing effects of the divorce will subside, but as the numbness or sadness goes away, it may be replaced by anger, and even the strong desire to get “revenge.” When people are upset, they have a tendency to act out and do irrational things. When they’re so deeply hurt and they want revenge, they can once again, do things they wouldn’t normally do. Both of these feelings can lead to big problems if they are acted upon.
We’ve all heard horror stories of the wife who keyed her husband’s car after he cheated on her, or the husband who beat up his wife’s new boyfriend, or the wife who maxed out her husband’s credit cards, or the husband who took off to Mexico with the kids. After all, there are countless true stories where embittered spouses acted in ways that were irrational, inappropriate, and sometimes downright illegal during a divorce.
The problem with acting out is it never ends well. Usually, the result is less money in the marital estate to divide, more legal fees, a protracted divorce, and less time with one’s children. If you’re concerned that you may act out because your spouse has hurt you so much, please realize that you’ll suffer the consequences if you let your emotions get the best of you.
How Do I Manage My Reputation?
If your emotions are raw, you have plenty of company. What you’re feeling is completely normal; however, you don’t want to say or do anything that will hurt your divorce case. To that end, it’s important that you develop strategies to ensure that you manage your reputation during the divorce. Otherwise, you could say or do things that could affect your ability to get what you want out of your divorce.
For starters, you want to watch what you say about your divorce. The last thing you want to do is spill your guts to your son’s teacher, your personal trainer, your hairdresser, or even your co-workers. People love juicy gossip and if you wear your heart on your sleeve, before you know it, loads of people are going to know all the messy details of your personal life.
Since you aren’t yourself during a divorce, you may be vulnerable and get sucked into people’s invitations to talk about your divorce. Even though you may feel empowered by slamming your spouse, doing so won’t do anything to protect your reputation. The best defense against saying too much to people who do not need to know is to practice a short response, which is to be utilized whenever people ask how your divorce is going.
Say something like, “It’s been hard, but we’re making good progress.” Practice it, rehearse it in front of the mirror, and memorize it. This way, when someone asks you how it’s going, you’ll have your response ready. Of course, you may want to surround yourself with a few close friends and family who you share the details of your divorce with, but there is no need or reason to discuss it with casual acquaintances.
Don’t Misuse Social Media
These days, almost everybody has a Facebook account. Of course, many people have Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter among other social accounts. If you’re one of those people who post to Facebook regularly, you need to be careful about your posts. Why? Because, these days social media accounts, namely Facebook, are treasure troves of evidence for divorce attorneys.
If you post pics of you partying, drinking alcohol, wearing revealing clothing, taking a vacation, spending money, or dating someone new, your spouse’s divorce lawyer can use that as evidence against you in the divorce case. Even if you say on Facebook, “I’m so depressed, I don’t know if I can continue living,” that statement can be used against you in a child custody case. In other words, don’t post anything unless you’re comfortable with it getting back to your ex, their divorce attorney, the judge, or all the above.
To handle yourself correctly on social media, don’t even bring up the divorce. Don’t complain about your ex, or post pics of you in Vegas, or pictures of you taking shots with your friends. Even though you may want your ex to know you’re over him or her, you don’t want to have to answer questions later on in a deposition about the episode.
Even your well-meaning friends can get you into trouble by saying, “Mexico was epic. We hit every bar in Tijuana!” Even though that statement may not be 100% true, it can create a bad impression and you may have to offer an awkward explanation. In all honesty, social media can get you into a lot of trouble during a divorce. For that reason, a lot of divorce attorneys advise their clients to stay off their social accounts until their divorce is finalized. If that’s too difficult, you can opt to jump on your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts to view what your friends are posting, but you don’t want to like, comment, or post about anything yourself.
If you are going through a divorce, make a real effort to be on your best behavior. You don’t want to use the divorce as an excuse to have a few temper tantrums. Instead, make a promise to yourself to act responsible and mature, this way when you look back on your divorce, you won’t be embarrassed by the things you said or did.
Contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to meet with a Los Angeles divorce attorney for free!