25 Things Not to Do During a Divorce

25 Things Not to Do During a Divorce|   See Florida Statutes Chapter 61

Divorce: It should not be necessary to counsel people on how to act when contemplating or going through a divorce, or break-up of a relationship, but divorce is a highly emotional situation and based on my many years of experience people going through a divorce need a gentle reminder.  This is list of things on how to act to increase the likelihood of a successful outcome to the conflict. This list is not all inclusive but hits many of the issues.

  1. Do not lie or hide things from your attorney. Everything you say to your attorney (with few exceptions) is privileged.  Your attorney needs to know everything about you and your case in order to be prepared to adequately represent you.  This means to disclose any illegal drug, prescription drug or alcohol abuse, disclose all assets and be honest about adultery.
  2. Do not use illegal drugs and do not associate with people who use illegal drugs. This is evidence that can be used against you in a child time-sharing custody determination.  The standard under Florida law is “best interests of the child”.  See Florida Statues §61.13(3).
  3. Do not discuss the case with your children. Children love both of their parents.  Do not put the children in the middle by discussing the case or the other spouse with the children.  The children do not need to know the details.
  4. Pay Attention: Do not post your divorce drama on Social Media. This means Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else is in vogue!  I know it’s tempting to rant and rave or post pictures with a click of the button.  Do not do it!!!!  Once shared via the internet the information is there forever. Posts on social media can and will be used as evidence against you.   It is inevitable that the social media accounts of at least one person involved in a dispute will have potentially relevant admissible information.  See  Florida Law Journal,“Social Media Evidence: What You Can’t use Won’t Help You” (2014) Volume 88, No. 1.
  5. Do not bring your new boyfriend/girlfriend around the children prior to the divorce being final. It is not a good idea.  It always inflames emotions.  No matter how many times I say this people still do it anyway….
  6. Early on in the case, do not fail to make an inventory of household items. You have to be able to show what assets have been removed or destroyed. Knowledge of your assets is important for equitable distribution.
  7. Do not fail to keep a divorce calendar or diary of events so you can refresh your recollection as to events important to the case.
  8. Do not bring your new boyfriend/girlfriend to mediation or to Court. Think about this: you are trying to reach an agreement or resolution to your case so why flaunt a new relationship?  It will not help to settle your case.
  9. Do not leave nasty voice mail messages to your spouse. Do not send nasty text messages or emails.  All of these things can be used as evidence.  Even if your spouse sends you a nasty or vulgar message do not respond that way.  Be cordial.  Think about everything that you write and ask yourself the question: how will it sound in court a few months down the road.
  10. Do not fail to keep any threatening messages that your spouse sends you. Make sure that your attorney is aware of these types of messages.
  11. Do not dispose of assets to be vindictive to your spouse. If in doubt ask your attorney.
  12. Do not fail to read all of the Orders entered in your case. Your attorney should send you a copy of all orders. If you do not understand them discuss your questions with your attorney not your friends.
  13. Do not fail to keep your attorney informed of where you are. And do respond quickly when your attorney telephones or emails you.
  14. Do not get credit or make credit purchases in your spouse’s name.
  15. Do not make large purchases. A single parent household costs more than a two parent household. Be mindful of expenditures until you know what the equitable distribution of assets and if there will be any income from child support.
  16. Do not keep your children from your spouse. Time-sharing belongs to the children. They have the right to the love and affection of both parents.
  17. Do not lose your temper or show anger at Mediation or in front of the Judge.  Keep calm it will help you in the long term.
  18. Do not get pregnant or get anyone pregnant while your divorce is pending. This will delay the case and will add additional issues to your case.  Florida Statute §382.013(2)(a) provides that “if the mother is married at the time of birth, the name of the husband shall be entered on the birth certificate as the father of the child, unless paternity has been determined otherwise by a court of competent jurisdiction.” It is important to note that legitimacy and paternity is not the same thing.  Legitimacy of a child exists when a child is born during the mother’s marriage, regardless of whether the father is her husband or someone else.  In the State of Florida, when a child is born while the mother was married, the husband (at the time of birth) is the presumed legal father.  Also See Chapter 742 Determination of Parentage.
  19. Do not listen to your friends, your hair stylist, your neighbor, etc.  Every divorce is different and fact specific.  DO listen to your attorney and follow your attorney’s advice.  If you do not trust your attorney then get another attorney or another legal opinion.
  20. Do not fail to consider the tax consequences of your divorce. A single parent household is taxed differently and may have different exemptions.
  21. Do not fail to update your legal documents such as your Power of Attorney and Health Care Surrogate.
  22. Do not fail to review your beneficiaries on your retirement accounts, insurance policies, and bank accounts.