There may be, as Paul Simon sang, 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are just as many ways to hurt your divorce case.
Divorce is rarely easy. The last thing you want to do is make it more difficult. But all too often, individuals going through a divorce make choices or engage in conduct which is self-defeating and goes against their own interests.
More often than not, these mistakes are driven by impulse and emotion – anger, a desire for revenge, spite. Whatever the driver is, decisions made during a divorce case should come from the head, not the heart or gut.
Poor choices can impact a wide range of decisions that a judge may make about custody, visitation, and property division, among other matters. Additionally, irrational and counter-productive conduct can increase the acrimony between the parties making it more difficult to come to a negotiated resolution of contested issues.
The following are four common ways that people can make their divorce more difficult and increase the chance of negative consequences:
- Social Media. I’ve written about the dangers of social media use during divorce over and over and over. Everything you post online can and will be used against you in your divorce case. And don’t think your privacy settings will keep you out of trouble. They won’t. Badmouthing your spouse, posting pictures that make you appear irresponsible or call into question your fitness as a parent, and otherwise sharing every thought or feeling about your divorce with the world are recipes for disaster. Stick with the cat videos.
- Using Kids as Pawns. You know your divorce is hard on your children already. But if you start to see your kids as pawns, leverage, or weapons to be used against your spouse, it will only make it harder for them. It can also get you into trouble with the court. If you fail to abide by any orders as to custody or visitation, continuously bad-mouth your spouse in front of the kids or try to interfere with their relationship with the other parent, all of that can be held against you when the judge makes important decisions as to your parenting rights.
- Disobeying Court Orders. My law school civil procedure professor used to say that the first rule of litigation is “Don’t p*ss off the judge.” That applies in divorce cases as well. Judges don’t take kindly to their orders being ignored. That’s why they are called “orders” and not “suggestions.” If orders have been entered in your case that either direct you or prohibit you from doing certain things, follow those orders.
- Disregarding Your Lawyer’s Advice. You hire a divorce lawyer for their knowledge, judgment, and counsel. When he or she makes recommendations or admonitions, they are doing so for a reason. While your lawyer should explain their reasons thoroughly so you have a full understanding as to why they are recommending a given course of action, you ignore their guidance at your peril. This is not to say that you can’t disagree with your lawyer from time to time. But, again, going with your gut over the reasoned opinion of the professional you have put your trust in to guide you through this process can be a very poor choice.
At Clement Law, we provide trusted counsel and effective advocacy to individuals in New York and New Jersey going through the transition of divorce. While thorough and aggressive, we help clients resolve their cases in novel and creative ways in order to minimize strife and reach a positive resolution. If you’d like to discuss any issues relating to divorce, please give us a call at (212) 683-9551 or fill out our online form to arrange for a consultation. We look forward to assisting you.