40……make that 41 things NOT to do during your divorce

From time to time I get divorce cases that really make me scratch my head and wonder what in the heck people were thinking when they decided to get married in the first place.  These are the cases where the parties literally hate each other and cannot see the other person’s view of anything.  Like the old saying, “its only win-win if I win twice.”

In these cases, the parties generally do everything they can to exact revenge from the other for some real or even perceived wrong that has occurred during the marriage.  That wrong may be adultery, squandering of assets, physical/emotional abuse or just about anything.  Regardless of the wrong, litigants do not understand that they are damaging their own cases by attempting to obtain revenge.  As a litigant in a divorce case you want to show up for court not only with clean hands, but a clean history.  With that in mind here is a list of things you shouldn’t do if you want to have a successful outcome in your divorce case:

1.  Hide things from your attorney.  Attorneys can prepare for and deal with facts.  Surprises on the other hand create problems.  Drug use, adultery, hidden assets and the like can destroy your case if your attorney isn’t prepared to deal with them.  This isn’t a game of hide and go seek.  Come clean.  The same goes for destroying evidence.  Just because you delete those emails from your computer doesn’t mean the other side isn’t going to get them another way.  When they do, it is going to look pretty bad if you hid them or lied about their existence in your discovery responses.

2.  Dispose of assets you know your spouse is going to request.  Don’t sell her great-grandmother’s chair in the attic and expect to get away with it.

3.  Fail to keep a copy of all communications with your soon to be ex-spouse.  If he/she sends you crazy or threatening text messages, give a copy of it to your attorney.

4.  Incur debt in your spouse’s name.  That would be stupid.  Don’t be stupid!

5.  Make comments in front of your children about your spouse.  Children are not the jury for a divorce.  They do not need to know that your spouse cheated on you or that your spouse is a %$^&$.  Leave the kids out of it.  All they want is to be loved.

6.  Use drugs or excessive alcohol.  If you do, it will cause you to violate even more of these “do not rules” and probably a few more than I haven’t even mentioned.

7.  Send nasty text messages, email or voice mail.  If you receive a text message saying you are a no good sorry piece of %&*^ and you reply by calling your spouse a few words that would not be appropriate in church, chances are you will see those words again in court.  Be nice.  Don’t put anything in email, text, voice mail, or other writing that you wouldn’t want to read in church to the entire congregation.

8.  Post stupid crap to facebook or any other social media site.  Nothing is private.  That person you kinda-sorta remember from high school and friended on facebook will share the pictures of your Jagermeister induced, half clothed 2 a.m. posted pictures.  Likewise, when you tell your spouse you are sick and can’t get the kids for the weekend, your spouse will find out if you post pics to facebook showing the great time you are having on the beach knocking back drinks with little umbrellas in them.

9.  Show anger in front of the judge, clerk, your spouse or your children.  Hold your emotions.  Screaming or violent outburst only serve to impress upon people that you are irrational.

10. Fail to weigh the trial of a case on economic and non-economic terms.  Sure you want to “win” the case.  Are you willing to spend $10,000 or more in legal fees to “win” the same thing that was offered prior to trial?  Don’t be stupid.  The romance is gone.  It is now a matter of money and custody.  Do you really want to stand in front of the judge while a lawyer questions you about your infidelity, gambling problem or pornography addiction?

11.  Bring your new boyfriend/girlfriend around the children prior to the divorce being final.  Failure to follow this will in all likelihood result in your new significant other becoming a witness in your divorce trial.  Are you familiar with alienation of affection and what it can cost?

12.  Bring your new boyfriend/girlfriend to court.  Unless there is a compelling reason for doing so, don’t do it.  It will only polarize your soon to be ex-spouse even more.  It also provides the perfect opportunity for the new lover to be a witness (and generally an unprepared witness at that).

13.  Speak with the lawyer for your spouse or anyone associated with their office for any reason.  They aren’t your friends.  They have one job which is to destroy you and make sure your spouse receives all of what you consider “your stuff.”  If you value your stuff, don’t talk to anyone about your divorce except your attorney.

14.  Display a “you owe me” type attitude.  Maybe your spouse does and maybe your spouse doesn’t.  Be calm and rational.  The more you claim your spouse owes you, the more your spouse will conger up recollections of all the things he/she has done for you.  This may come as a surprise to you, but when your spouse does that the items on his/her list will outweigh the few things your spouse remembers you have done for them.

15.  Make reactive comments.  You rarely lose anything by failing to respond quickly.  Calmly think about the situation and then respond if required.

16.  Talk while others are talking.  Easy enough.  If your mouth is open, your ears aren’t.  You can often gain an advantage in a divorce by soaking up knowledge, but rarely will you do so by passing it out.  You need to be the one that is learning, not the one that is teaching.

17.  Argue religion.  You are not going to convert anyone during a divorce case.  You can however, piss them off or convenience them that you are hypocritical.

18.  Make proposals you are not fully prepared to live with.   Otherwise, your credibility goes out the window.

19.  Withhold visitation for failure to pay child support or vice versa.  This is a good way to go to jail for contempt.

20.  Fail to read all orders entered in your divorce case.  Ask your attorney for them.  “I didn’t know” isn’t going to cut it with the judge if you were ordered to do something and fail to do it.

21.  Increase your debt.  Your financial situation is about to change……drastically.  This is a time to be very conservative with your finances.  There is no guarantee as to what the court may do and no guarantee that the child support will come in.

22.  Fail to create a rainy day fund.  Keep some cash somewhere safe that you can use for emergencies.

23.  Make large purchases.  It is hard to argue that you can’t pay an additional $XXX in child support, daycare, etc. if you just went out and financed a new boat, car, motorcycle, gun, closet full of shoes, or whatever.

24.  Fail to consider the tax implications of divorce.  Your tax situation is about to change.  Go see an accountant/CPA and find out exactly how it is going to change so there are no surprises.

25.  Fail to update your legal documents.  Do you want your soon to be ex-spouse using that power of attorney from ten years ago to remove money from your retirement?  Do you want them to make the decision as to whether or not life saving measures should be taken if you have a serious medical condition?  I can just see an angry spouse telling the doctors “Pull the plug.   He wouldn’t want to live with a broken leg!’  That is kind of funny until you realize something could happen.  Do you want your soon to be ex-spouse to receive all your assets if you kick the bucket the day before your divorce becomes final?  These events can be avoided, put they must be planned for.

26.  Get pregnant or get anyone pregnant.  Pregnancy can stall a divorce while the court waits to find out the identity of the father.  Do you want to wait months only to provide proof of your infidelity?  Just don’t do it.

27.  Listen to all your friend’s advice of what you should get or give in a divorce.  Every divorce is different.  You are paying an attorney to watch out for your best interests.  Either trust your attorney or find an attorney you can trust.

28.  Fail to take an inventory of household items.  You need to be able to show what assets have been removed or destroyed.  If nothing else, walk through the house with a video camera and video everything there.  It will help you create a list of assets.

29.  Fail to keep your attorney advised of your whereabouts.  The only thing more troubling for an attorney than a lying client is a client that falls off the face of the earth.

30.  Fail to keep a divorce diary.  Make notes of things that happen.  If your spouse doesn’t pick up the kids for visitation, doesn’t pay child support when due under a court order or anything negative at all, write it down.

31.  Cash refund checks that in all honesty belong to your spouse.  If a tax refund check comes in, try to reach agreement on a division.  If you resolve the issue in your own favor, don’t be surprised when the judge resolves it against you and you have to come up with the money to pay your spouse.

32. Fail to pay child support via check.  If you pay any amount owed to your spouse with cash, you are inviting the less than truthful to claim you didn’t make the payment.  If you owe $750 per month in child support on the first of the month, get a check for that payment into his/her hands the day before.  Better early than jailed for contempt.

33.  Fail to remember than Chancery Court is a Court of equity.  If you want the court to “do right” you dang well better do right yourself.

34.  Discuss settlement with your spouse after you have been drinking.  That great idea you had at midnight may not be such a great idea the next morning when you wake up with a hangover and even your dog is looking at you funny.

35.  Fail to realize that if you have a child or children, the divorce is not the end.  You will still have to deal with your ex-spouse for many years to come.  If you are unreasonable now, there is a good chance that your ex-spouse will be unreasonable with you for many years to come.

36.  Fail to understand that a happy ex-spouse is a key to your happiness.  Few things will make your life more miserable than a miserable ex-spouse.  If they are having problems with money or relationships, you will be the target of their cross hairs.  On the other hand, a happy ex generally isn’t fixated on making your life a living hell. 

37.  Fail to understand that the more unreasonable you are, the more unreasonable your spouse will be.  Splitting up assets and debts occurs in equitable distribution.  It isn’t called “you get everything distribution.”  If you want everything, your spouse is likewise going to request everything.  You have to give something to receive something.  Only litigate over items that are truly valuable to you.

38.  Be unreasonable with child visitation or move out-of-state with the children for no reason other than to separate the children from your spouse.  Courts don’t like this.  Children generally have an established network of friends and family where they are.  Relocation will be difficult on you and will likely be even more difficult on them.  Don’t do it unless you have a good reason for doing so such as physical abuse.

39.  Make extrajudicial modifications to any court order.  Your spouse says “don’t worry about the child support for the next 3 months because Jr. is going to stay with grandma.”  Unless the agreement is reduced to writing and a judge signs an order modifying the previous order, you are not relieved of complying with the previous order of the court.  Stated another way, do whatever the court orders you to do and do it until the court orders you to do something different.

40.  Be your own lawyer.  Sure, you think you know everything, but in reality you don’t.  You figure you will save a few bucks, but in the long run you wont.  If you really desire to end up back in court or worse (in jail), draft your own pleadings and draft your own custody agreement.  The money you will end up spending to modify a deficient child custody, visitation and property settlement agreement will overshadow the amount you would have spent to get it done correctly in the first place.  Even worse, some things can’t be modified.  Therefore, if you don’t get those things right the first time you don’t get them at all.

So there you have it.  Forty things not to do during your divorce.  This list is by no means exhaustive.  There are plenty of other things you shouldn’t do during your divorce.  Like right now, I just remembered that I failed to tell you that you should never discuss advice or strategy received from your attorney with other persons.  That destroys the attorney-client privilege and the attorney on the other side is free to obtain this type of information in discovery.  You don’t want that to happen so keep your personal matters personal.

I suspect you could probably name 4 or 5 other things in addition to my 41.  Don’t do them either!  Divorce is generally a traumatic and life changing experience.  Don’t make it any more difficult than it already is.

Last week, I attended a CLE seminar on malpractice prevention.  One of the speakers cautioned us about inadvertently creating attorney-client relationships.  With that in mind, please read my disclaimer.

About randywallace
I am a husband, father, attorney, outdoorsman and cook.

42 Responses to 40……make that 41 things NOT to do during your divorce

  1. Macko says:

    Good stuff Randy! Not that I plan to ever need it but good stuff all the same!

  2. Keri Haralson says:

    I just love this!!! Where, oh where, did you come up with any of this? I almost CRIED I WAS LAUGHING SO HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Larry says:

    I am going to link this next week on my blog. Good job.

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  8. Tiffany says:

    I am going through a divorce as well. The agreement and negotiations are all done, but he came back and asked me to stay married. I said I gave him a year to show me he is trying to fix a few things (mental health stuff) and now he’s being ugly again. He’s in another country for work, and now I”m doing the relationship tactic of “no contact” to see if he’s going to take me seriously. All the paperwork is done, it’s just a matter of him deciding he wants to be married, our waiting period is up too, so I could go down tomorrow and have it over with ( i live in a VERY small town and the judge sees people same day). I’m trying to be OH so patient, but this list is going to help me a ton, because I get a little upset sometimes and want to be cold and unfeeling, but realize that it won’t help the post divorce things with the kids. Divorce is such a hard thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Tiffany, I’m gong through a D as well. He cheated on me( still with her), we have no kids. I filed…, I did not want to. I Wanted to work things out . I Wish my soon to be ex would want to return. I’d love to know how you are coping. It’s coming up on a year that he is out of the house( living with his elderly parents), and my self esteem has Plummitted . How?? Do you survive this?

      • Sarah says:

        Hi Tiffany. Going through the same thing here. Mom of a 5 year old little boy, everything was so good or so I thought. & we were taking a “break” I found him at his friends house with his boxers on and a girl in his t-shirt and no pants. Broke me into pieces. Now, he won’t text me back, call me, nothing. He acts as if I never existed. I dont even know why he has changed so drastically… Married 6 years to this man & I dont know him anymore.

      • Jenna says:

        Divorce is so horrible! Anonymous, It is the probably the most painful thing to go through. For me the pain did not want to go away and my days seem grey and never the same again. I still tear up sometimes when I get reminded. He left me for another woman all of a sudden! No warning to talking about it NOTHING! I was pregnant with his third child and I wanted to work it out and he was not gonna have it. He was in love with some other woman. On top of that he told me he would never get back together if it didn’t work out with the other woman. I was mad because I didn’t even ask him to get back together even though i deeply wished so. I felt so worthless! I gave him everything he asked for! I sold my two cars so he can buy himself a motorcyle and a truck among other things I sacrificed for his happiness. I still love and miss him I just love his personality but he is so SELFISH!!!! I have not met anyone as fun as him. I know it sounds so superficial but it affects the relationship alot. I know I am better off with someone who will treat me alot better. He was emotionally abusive to our little ones and almost physically but I would get in front of them to protect them. We would fight about this all the time. I just want women or men out there going through a divorce or being dumped like trash to know that there are selfish people out there who will manipulate you and degrade you and it happens so slowly even if you have a strong personality they are able to do it so gradually you won’t even know what hit you. They are NARCISSISTIC people! google it and do some research on that!!!! They will describe your mate to the T. Keep your head up. You should be careful with your heart and who you get involved with. Be very aware of red flags and leave if you see any! It is better that he left now and not when you were pregnant with his third child or before having any children because then they would suffer and you would suffer knowing they are suffering. I wish you the best. You will find your true love just do things to cheer yourself up and do what you love! Don’t forget who you are and start getting into some things you know you have always wanted to do! You may find him when you are doing what you love!

    • jason says:

      I was with mine for almost 15 years. I tried to give my two kids and her everything I could the big nice house, new car every few years, full time nanny, and a maid to help. Every few years ” I need break I’m not happy I need more acts of endearment,” I Stayed away like I she asked me to. The final thing for me was her work was giving her hard time with her money. I got her a job with my company making good salary plus a large bonus plan. Ive worked for this company for 9 Years love my job. Month into it she started sleeping with engineer to dating him. He is totally married with 3 kids. I filled got separation done. Even with court order stating she had to leave still can get her out of the house. I really feel for all of us that have been done wrong or going threw all this , more so for our kids. I get threw it day by day living for my kids , family ,friends ,and prayer. Good things will come to good people keep you chin up and take your time to find the right person for you. People Don’t Change Don’t settle. Best wishes god bless
      Jason

  9. Admiring the time and effort you put into your website and detailed information you offer.
    It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same
    unwanted rehashed information. Fantastic read!
    I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  10. Anonymous says:

    What if my ex wife sold my motorcycle during our divorce. Do I have any recourse ?

  11. Robert Jr says:

    Thanks for the advice. I do have some questions if the ex to be changes their names on social networks like Facebook. To appear single already & had showed negative acts toward you in front of the kids. Along with several false allegations to destroy your credibility with friends, family & work? What do you do???

  12. Cheryl says:

    If I file for a divorce and I made a mistake on the month I got married it July not June but we both sign would my divorce sill go though

  13. Bernard says:

    I am so glad that I happened upon this blog and writing. I was just told by my wife of 10years that she wants a divorce. There is so much to sort through from emotions, internet due diligence, health, legal preparations that this a refreshing look at things to do and not to do.

  14. Kimberly says:

    Why would my ex want me to change my name back to my maiden name so badly? I don’t want to change it away from my children’s last name.

    • Jenna says:

      You aren’t required to change your last name. That is solely up to you. He needs to mind his own business and not worry about your name. It is YOUR name now. You earned it by getting married. And now you and your children share the same family last name. I have decided to keep my married name after divorce because I have 3 children and I don’t want them asking me why we have different last names, not only that but when we go anywhere school, doctors appointments I won’t have to explain the name difference. I have found that keeping my married name is just easier for me and our kids. I think your ex is just trying to control what you do. Either way he can’t do anything about it. He’s just gonna have to suck it up.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Don’t, under any circumstances move out of the family residence before you have a written agreement that is clear and signed by both parties. If you move out, she or he can stay in this house without your having any recourse for as long as possible AND not have to pay rent. Get an attorney!

    Next, don’t go into Collaborative, a process that is supposed to be better than litigation. It is only if both parties DURING the marriage were good communicators, worked together collaboratively, have the same values now and are trustworthy. If you answered no to any of these, then you will be sorely mistaken. And waste time and money. I know.

    • Jenna says:

      I regrett going to collaborative or mediator because I was very vulnerable and scared and felt pressured to “co-operate” and I did not know my rights. I felt that I was supposed to listen to what the mediator pushed for and I feel that she favored my ex and would pressure me to give in to his wants and she did not do it evenly to both sides only to his side. I did not agree but I still signed because I thought I had to or would be considered uncooperative with the courts. I was so clueless and feel so stupid now! Wish I didn’t go to the mediation.

  16. Sheri says:

    How do I legally keep my husband from allowing his girlfriend into our martial home that we both own

    • randywallace says:

      Sheri, you need to speak with an attorney in your area if that is an issue you want to resolve.

    • melania says:

      I have the same issue. We have a house upstate and he is bringing her there. She even posted pics of my bedroom on facebook ! It seems that you have to accept it, because both of you can bring “friends” in the property. In short, he is not breaking the law. However, if you can prove that she is a very “special guest “, it will not play in your husband favor in front of the judge. Try gain evidences. Best of luck to you, I know how you feel

    • Jenna says:

      You should get an order with your attorney. He/she can write an order to keep you in your own home. My ex had the other woman in our marital home and didn’t let me and the kids in our own home. It took me two weeks to get the place but only because his parents pushed him and his mistress out. It took a couple of weeks to get the order that said he will pay for the place and let me and the kids dwell in there. Good luck! He must be narcissistic! The audacity of it. Ughgh!!!

  17. Amy Barnhill says:

    I have a quick question? Maybe someone else has gone through. My husband and I are divorcing in Texas. We have been separated for 3 years now. I bought a used vehicle with my own money not quite a year ago. We have already divided everything. So tonight when I met him to drop off our children for his weekend he started taking pictures of my license plates and vehicle (he has seen on many occasions) and a picture of me. What in the world could all this mean?

    • Jenna says:

      He could be trying to claim it as marital community property or try and make you split the value of it half and half. But I doubt he can do this because you were separated. But you also have to take into account were you LEGALLY separated or just separated. If you were legally separated then he can’t do anything about it. I’m not 100 percent but I am pretty sure he can’t do anything about it. It is yours. If you were dependent upon him then no he can’t do anything. He could just be playing mind games too.

  18. Staci says:

    i wish i had seen this a month ago. My husband and I agreed to a separation and then things got ugly. He lives in Singapore with our 11 year old son. He said no attorneys. So I came back here, enrolled in school to finish my degree so I could help support the family because Ive been a stay at home mom for twenty years. Now that I’m here, he’s cut off support, no payment for my school and limiting my access to my son. As he’s said, he’s Canadian, I’m American and he lives in Singapore. I can/t touch him. I sent a really nasty text message (mistake, I see). I do believe I’m screwed. Never trust verbal agreements and remember the phrase “Restraint of pen and tongue”

    • Jenna says:

      Never trust VERBAL AGREEMENTS not even with your “trusted” atttorney! I got screwd over by my attorney with child support and he made child support only 50 dollars for 3 children under 5!!! 50 dollars TOTAL! my attorney told me to trust him because if i wanted i could just modify the order. I asked him why would I want to have to modify it I just want a decent amount. My ex was emoployed and could pay alot more than that. Attorney told me “Trust me I know what I’m doing. It is strategic” I questioned him again and again he assured me” trust me”ok your just gonna have to trust me on this” So here I am having to do modification and we are in diferent states now so it will take me 3-6 months to modify maybe longer. NEVER TRUST VERBAL agreements. Make sure that you are perfectly happy with everything that is written on your COURT ORDERS, DIVORCE agreements , child support and child custody and look at every single word make sure no mistakes are on there. And trust your gut more than your attorney if something doesn’t make sense to you!!! Don’t let the attorney make you doubt yourself and your own judgement. You are vulnerable or feel more vulnerable during divorce so be careful!

  19. Nicole says:

    The silient treatment will and does drive the other side crazy. Some are just mean and hateful. Just don’t say a word. Let the attorney do the talking while you collect !! Cha Ching!💰💴💵

  20. Pingback: A giant middle finger to the ex-wife | randywallace

  21. Thanks, Randy. Apparently I am going to have personal use for this list – printing it off now!

  22. Anthony everson says:

    me and my other half are getting divorced she txted me and told me that her new boyfriend is going to be staying at house overnight alot and our children are there.
    and that there is nothing i could do about it what should i do?

  23. Pingback: Miscellaneous Friday | randywallace

  24. Lisa says:

    Have never think about this and planned for that, but yeah its very helpful for the people who are running through such a stage.

  25. Elise K says:

    Definitely do not take your new wife to court with you when you have not finished up your divorce to your former wife of over thirty years. Our judge screamed at the new wife and kicked her out of the courtroom. The judge then smacked down my former husband on spousal support, raising it three times what it was. He has a new family, but our judge only cares about his former family. My former husband was an idiot to bring his current wife to court with him. I am not a genius, but even I saw this all coming.

    • Elise K says:

      And one other do, get the best lawyer in town, the one with the excellent reputation. Be prepared for a long siege, we are in year three, and be expected to make some financial sacrifices to pay your attorney. I work the equivalent of two jobs and I pay $1000.00 a month. It rains in my house and my car is 15 years old. I consider everything I have paid my attorney as an investment in my family’s future and I look forward to the end only.

      My former husband has traveled the world since we split and at first enjoyed a pretty good time with all his sweeties. That ended, and it is going pretty darned bad for him now. He married the only sweetie who would have him five days after he lost his appeal. He is pro se as truly he thinks he is smarter than any attorney. He told the judge he cannot afford legal representation when he was threatened with jail this last time in court. He said he has never had legal representation but he forgot we are in the same court system that registered his attorney’s motion to withdraw as his legal counsel. What a dingbo.

  26. anonymous says:

    Yet another reason I am grateful I am never getting married

  27. Reblogged this on TheMomLifeofJasmine's Blog and commented:
    Very well written on divorce reality

  28. jheckman1986 says:

    Reblogged this on Jacob Heckman, IT Administrator and commented:
    This is a very good article on divorce that i found that may be helpful to those going through the proceedings. I understand this is not an IT subject but as someone who was exposed to a bad divorce i feel it’s an appropriate post.

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