Bad-mouth your ex. You may want to convince everyone that your former spouse is crazy and just plain awful, but while you may want to share all of their transgressions and ruin your ex’s reputation, who would that help? And, more importantly, who else would that damage? Bad mouthing your ex online or offline will hurt the innocents in your divorce: your children, your friends, his family, your family… and if that is not enough to convince you, it could possibly even hurt your spousal support. What if your spouse’s business and subsequent income is affected by your words or social media activity? That could affect any alimony payments that the court determines he or she can afford to pay. [A great child’s book on how information can spread quickly is Webster’s Email – take note!] Still feel the need to externalize some of that hurt and anger? See a therapist to help you deal with your emotions, or write down what you are thinking and feeling and then burn it.
Put your children in the middle. Asking them whose side they’re on. Fighting with your ex in front of them. Pumping them for details about what really goes on in the other parent’s house. When it comes to kids and divorce, psychological researchers have found that it’s these actions that damage children during divorce and not the divorce itself. Your children mean everything to you. Don’t fall into the dangerous trap of using them as pawns, or as a weapon. Legally speaking, putting your children in the middle could have serious repercussions if your actions interfere with your child custody order (i.e., you are late or skip custody swaps out of spite). Your ex could take you back to court to enforce, and even claim that your transgressions rise to the level of parental alienation.
Parade your new love all over social media before the divorce is final. It might feel like a moment of victory to let your Facebook friends know that you are doing more than fine after your split. However, how would you like your child custody to be in jeopardy based on your Facebook posts…or your alimony award to be terminated based on what you put in your newsfeed? Even if set to private, your constant stream of kissy or risque photos snapped in romantic and expensive locales could come back to haunt you. If you are in a relationship before your divorce is final, keep it offline.
Drain the bank accounts. The more assets you make disappear, the less you’ll have to give your spouse, right? Wrong! Hiding assets or siphoning joint accounts can lead to penalties and interest payments when discovered. And in today’s world where digital traces are hard to erase, it’s easier than ever to track down financial wrong doing. Your best bet? Lay all your financial cards on the table with your attorney and come up with a strong strategy to protect your assets. In the long run, this approach could save you even more than any amount you managed to stash away.
Make communication a nightmare. Think before you text…or email or call or write that angry letter that’s been boiling up inside you. Any form of communication you send to your ex could be used as evidence against you. Threatening or harassing communication could constitute domestic violence and warrant police intervention….which can then affect child custody, your job, and an untold number of other issues. If needed in a tense divorce, have your attorney be in charge of any communication, or limit your communication to neutral texts or emails only. If you share child custody, for example, limit texts to neutral comments about pick up and drop off, or only in case of emergency.
Engage in endless litigation: If you are too firmly entrenched in your position and refuse to negotiate with your spouse, it is inevitable that you will end up facing a divorce trial. Trials are lengthy, emotionally draining and expensive. Also, you give up control to make decisions regarding your own life, your children and your future, if you leave all of the decisions up to the judge. The tone you set early on in the divorce proceedings will carry through your entire case and beyond, especially if you and your spouse have children. Think about sitting down with your spouse, if possible, to attempt to work out your issues together. Consider mediation or perhaps a more collaborative approach to your divorce. Your peace of mind and your bank account are worth it!
Refuse to pay child support: Courts in New Jersey do not look kindly on parents who do not financially support their children. Under New Jersey law, it is both parents’ responsibility to financially support their children; the right to child support belongs to the child, not to mom or dad. You have the right to have your child support calculated by the court using the New Jersey Child Support Guidelines and you also have the right to ask the court to modify an existing child support award if you have a change in circumstances that may warrant a court to change the child support award. However, you should not refuse to pay, or quit your job to avoid payment of support. You could end up losing your driver’s license, having your wages garnished or even face jail.
Act like you are above the law: You certainly may not agree with everything the court rules, but, you must follow court orders. There are legal ways to challenge a judge’s ruling, such as filing a motion for reconsideration or even appealing the decision. But ignoring a court order could subject you to being held in contempt of court which could mean fines, sanctions or even being put in jail by the judge. No one is above the law and until the court says otherwise you are obligated to follow whatever current court orders are in place.
File baseless court papers: It is a huge mistake to file motions with the court seeking unreasonable relief. For example, do not file for sole legal and physical custody of your children without good reason. Courts favor having both parents in children’s lives and do not look favorably on parents who are maliciously trying to keep the other parent out of their child’s life. Of course, if you have real concerns regarding the fitness of your spouse and how they care for your child, this should be brought to the attention of the court. But, if you want to ask the court to stop all parenting time for your spouse simply because you are angry, this will not get you very far with the court. You will look unreasonable and, in the end, this will not get you to the place you want to be: in a peaceful relationship with everyone in your life, including your ex-spouse in the future.
Refuse to mediate:You will get nowhere fast if you take the position that you will not attempt to work out at least some of your problems with the help of a mediator. If you immediately decide that you want litigation and a full-blown divorce trial, you are going to see your stress levels rise and your legal bills pile up quickly. Trying to work with your soon to be ex-spouse and a trained mediator will at least help pave the road to a more peaceful divorce process.
The decisions you make in divorce can make the process easier or more difficult. Divorce doesn’t have to be difficult. Need help making the right choices? If you in the middle of your own apocalyptic divorce, let our attorneys guide you on your clear path forward. Please contact us to schedule your initial confidential consultation.