Whether your divorce is amicable or acrimonious, it’s far too easy to do things to shift the balance of power or get yourself in trouble during the divorce proceedings. Avoid giving your spouse the upper hand; refrain from doing any of these big no-no’s during your divorce.
1. Don’t involve the kids. At all.
Divorce is always difficult, but it’s infinitely more difficult when kids are involved. The most important thing parents can do for their kids is to protect them during a divorce. Don’t involve your kids in any aspect of the unpleasantness of a divorce. Don’t confide in them. Don’t try to convince them that you’re the ‘good’ guy and your spouse is the ‘bad’ guy. Don’t take them out of state, or refuse to let your spouse see them unless you’re absolutely concerned about their safety. Kids should never be a bargaining chip in a divorce, and they should never be used to manipulate your spouse.
2. Don’t make unreasonable demands.
If you’re unhappy about a divorce, it’s tempting to demand everything your spouse has just to get even. Or if you feel your relationship hasn’t been equal, you may feel entitled to more during a divorce. Regardless of your logic, don’t make unreasonable demands during a divorce. You probably should run any demands by an impartial third party; not a friend or family member who is looking out solely for your welfare.
By making unreasonable demands, you set yourself up for retaliation from your spouse, and you make your case weaker in front of a judge. Listen to your lawyer and iron out a settlement that works for both you and your spouse; don’t make it about a contest to see who ‘wins.’ Nobody ever wins in divorce.
3. Don’t correspond with your spouse about important disputes.
In an acrimonious divorce, it’s best to have as little contact with your spouse as possible. Even in an amicable divorce, it’s a good idea not to correspond with your spouse about any important disputes. Let correspondence come from your attorney. Anything you put in writing can be used against you in a divorce case, so don’t take the risk; just don’t correspond with your spouse about important disputes.
4. Don’t leave important documents lying around.
The second you or your spouse files for divorce, you must consider yourselves separate entities. Whether you’re still friends or your spouse is spoiling for a fight, you need to protect your own interests by hanging onto important documentation.
Make sure you have copies of all important documents stored in a location your spouse can’t access. The reasoning behind this isn’t to hide things from your spouse; it’s to protect your interests by preventing your spouse from losing or destroying important documents. Even a friendly divorce can turn sour if the wrong words are spoken, and it’s far too easy for a spouse to sabotage you if the only copies of important financial documents are lying around for anyone to manipulate.
5. Don’t spend more money.
Many people deal with unhappiness by shopping. While acquiring material possessions may help to temporarily quiet the inner voice of unhappiness, it doesn’t help your financial situation. When most people get a divorce, their financial situation changes, sometimes drastically. Save money for establishing your new household.
If you fear your spouse is going to try to get hands on your cash in a divorce, avoid the temptation to spend it in order to prevent your spouse from getting it. Consult your attorney about the best way to handle assets and avoid getting yourself into trouble in court during the divorce.