What can you NOT do during a divorce?

What not to do during separation? Mistakes to avoid during your separation. What to avoid doing during a divorce?

Here are 20 things you should NOT do during your divorce: 

  1. Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.

These are legal proceedings. A level of decorum is expected. Don’t do anything that appears unlawful, shifty, or suspicious. Keep your activities within the ordinary course of business. Don’t move lots of money around or sell-off your spouse’s jewelry. Tell your attorney everything. About the adultery, the addiction, the infidelity. Don’t lie, hide, or sugarcoat the truth. Be honest. Don’t destroy evidence. Don’t fabricate evidence. Don’t submit false information in pleadings, affidavits, or statements. Don’t lie under oath or attempt to mislead the court. Not only will lying to the judge destroy your credibility. The judge could rule against you and hold you in contempt.

  1. Don’t take legal advice from your spouse or opposing counsel.

Do not communicate with your spouse’s attorney or legal team. They’re not on your side. Leave this to your attorney.

  1. Don’t post to social media.

Anything you post online may be used against you in court. Don’t post anything about your case, or the lawyers, or the judge. If at all possible, just stay off-line until after the divorce. 

  1. Don’t send nasty text messages or emails to your spouse.

Venting could make you appear cruel and unstable. Or the bad parent.

  1. Don’t stalk your spouse or spy.

Don’t follow your spouse to work. Don’t track your spouse’s iPhone. Don’t spy on your spouse’s communications.

  1. Don’t retaliate against your spouse.

Don’t be vindictive. Stupid acts like throwing her golf clubs in the street or egging his car can hurt your case. 

  1. Don’t contest every issue in the divorce.

Choose your battles wisely. And don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t ask your attorney to make the process as painful, drawn out, and expensive for your spouse as possible. Inserting revenge and pride, or letting fear control every issue, will cost you in attorney’s fees, litigation, delay, and stress. 

  1. Don’t date.

Dating doesn’t put your kids first. Don’t get involved in any romantic or sexual relationship during the divorce. An extramarital affair eliminates the other spouse’s adultery as grounds for divorce. Dating could weaken your bargaining position in negotiations with respect to fault. And fault is a factor in determining alimony.

  1. Don’t get pregnant. Don’t get anyone pregnant.

With a pregnancy, proceedings expand to include child custody, parenting plans, and child support. Pregnancy may cause the spouse to lose grounds for divorce, too.

  1. Don’t take on additional debt.

Focus on containing the cost of your divorce and forego unnecessary spending. Attorneys cost money. Experts cost money. Independent child custody evaluators, forensic accountants, mental health professionals, and mediators all cost money.

  1. Don’t violate the mandatory injunction. It’s a court order.

All sorts of actions are enjoined and prohibited unless there’s consent from the other spouse or the judge. Paying ordinary expenses is fine. But don’t make luxury purchases or waste money on a weekend gambit. Don’t spend money in your spouse’s name. Don’t sell the car. Don’t liquidate your retirement account. Don’t clean-out the joint bank account. Don’t purge the things you know your spouse will want in the property settlement.

  1. Don’t refuse mediation if you have a minor child.

You cannot skip custody mediation and go directly to trial. You’re in this for the duration. So establish the best relationship possible with the other parent.

  1. Don’t refuse to negotiate in good faith.

Don’t refuse to settle out of principle, spite, or disgust. Most cases settle. But don’t be too eager to take the first offer. You have the right to learn about and understand your spouse’s complete financial picture before determining your settlement position. Settlement will impact your financial future. Take it seriously. Be reasonable.

  1. Don’t rewrite or violate the court’s order.

Don’t withhold child support because your spouse refused you parenting time. Don’t change the court’s order to better suit your purposes. Even if the other parent agrees, the judge won’t. And your case may suffer. Talk to your lawyer.

  1. Don’t use your children as tools for revenge.

Never use the kids to get back at the other parent. Don’t take out your frustrations, anxiety, hurt, or anger on your kids. Don’t criticize or mock the other parent in front of your kids. Don’t discuss the case where your child can overhear. 

  1. Don’t avoid counseling.

Divorce is very stressful. It can lead to depression and poor judgment. Drugs and alcohol only make a bad situation worse. Therapy and counseling has helped many people get through these tough times. Listen to the opinions and advice of the people you trust and respect. Talk to your pastor, priest, or rabbi. 

  1. Don’t succumb to violence or threaten your spouse or kids.

If you’re a victim of domestic violence, then Get Safe Now! Tell everyone what is going on. Don’t wait to see if things get worse. 

  1. Don’t be a passive participant in your own divorce.

Share information with your attorney. Get your credit report. Assemble documents. Make lists. Set goals. Have a plan. 

  1. Don’t rely on memory.

Keep a journal. Record events so you can recall them with specificity when you meet with your attorney. Write detailed narratives for your attorney about important events to you. Don’t assume your attorney will think your story is unimportant.  Often, detailed narratives can help your attorney understand your story, what matters most to you, and learn how to best help you.

  1. Don’t try to do this yourself.

Divorce is difficult and can take time. Legal advice from your attorney can prevent mistakes and serious problems from ever happening. Hire an experienced family law attorney. Choose carefully. You’ll be relying on this person to safeguard your interests during a time of great emotional distress for you and your spouse.

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