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.
Getting a divorce? Don’t engage in the following behaviors:
- Revenge Spending
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 a temporary child custody order from the court that will help further, not hinder your goals.
Related: 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.