Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How Not to Start a Divorce

There are many articles about how to do various things, including getting divorced.  This is a "what not to do" article: 10  things to avoid that will save you a lot of grief when you start a divorce.

1.  Don't destroy records, including emails and other electronic information.  Emails and website postings are becoming more and more important in divorce litigation, and you can't destroy information like that. Helpful or hurtful, you need to not delete information. You will get in trouble with the Judge for that.  Check with your attorney if you think you need to delete things.

2.  Don't hide the kids.  A common concern of judges is whether parents are willing to cooperate with each other and share children.  If one parent runs off with the children, that is normally held against the hiding parent.

3.  Don't clean out all the bank accounts.  Each party needs some money to pay bills and survive.  If either party starts to empty bank accounts, the judge will often take money away from the money grabber, and the judge won't be happy with that person.

4.  Don't blow up and get angry with your spouse or make threats.   That will probably only lead to more conflict.  Anger and threats don't lead to compromise and reasonableness.  Fighting costs more money.

5.  Don't hide assets.  Most of the time, the assets will be found.  If a judge suspects you have hidden assets, he or she has ways to even things out, and you can be punished.  It's not worth the effort in the end.

6.  Don't hire the meanest lawyer in town unless you just want to spend a lot of money and reduce the community estate.  Sure, you can whip up on your spouse and make him or her miserable, but it will end up costing you a lot more money than if you tried to work things out.  Fighting is expensive and your aggression will likely lead to aggression in response, which won't be fun for you.

7.  Don't try to represent yourself.  Like it or not, Family Law is complicated.  If you have no assets, no kids and a fairly short marriage, you might get by without a lawyer.  Otherwise, it will cost you a lot more in the long run when mistakes have to be corrected or when you realize you gave up something, or paid for something, that you didn't have to do.

8.  Don't lie to your lawyer.  You may be embarrassed or you may think you can sneak something by, but lies almost always come back to bite you.  Save yourself some time and money and be honest with your attorney all the way through.

9.  Don't lie to the judge or another court official.  Worse than lying to your attorney is lying to the judge or other court official.  When that is uncovered, you will really be in trouble.  In addition to potential criminal liability, see the last paragraph below.

10.  Don't try to poison the children against the other parent.  Keep them out of the middle.  Judges hate to see kids used as weapons.  More importantly, it's damaging to the children.  For their sake, don't do it.

Very Important!  You may have noticed the refrain above about the judge getting mad or unhappy or not liking something.  That's an important factor because judges have a lot of discretion about how things will be divided or allocated or awarded on both a temporary basis and at final hearing.  That gives the judge a way to even things out, or favor someone who the judge may believe was mistreated by the other spouse.  Think about whether you want the judge to be making rulings if he or she is mad at you!

1 comment:

Vegas Divorce Guy said...

Awesome post Dick. You would think that the 10 tips you posted would be common sense when the couples go to court, lol.

But I definitely agree, beware of the wrath of the judge! -Daniel