Young couple arguing about paperwork on a meeting with their lawyers. Things not to do during divorce concept.

The subject of “what not to do in a divorce” could fill several books. Let’s face it: divorce is challenging enough without taking actions that can make it even harder. Unfortunately, it can be hard to make good decisions in the moment when emotions are high—and few things heighten emotions like a divorce. We hope that this blog post will help you to think ahead on the things not to do during divorce, and avoid potential divorce pitfalls.

Don’t Get Pregnant (or Get Someone Pregnant)

Babies can be a great blessing—but when you are getting divorced, they can also be a huge complication.

There are a couple of typical scenarios involving pregnancy and divorce. One of them involves a partner trying to get their spouse pregnant, or get pregnant by their spouse, in a last-ditch effort to save the marriage. This is a terrible idea. It almost never works, it’s unfair to the child, and it guarantees that the divorcing couple will have to deal with each other for at least another 18 years. Do not do this.

Another situation involves a spouse who is unfaithful and getting pregnant while the divorce is pending. This, too, is bad on many levels. If the wife becomes pregnant, it can delay the divorce so that the court can determine whether the husband or boyfriend is the father of the baby. If the former, the divorcing mother will be yoked to her ex-husband through the child for decades after the divorce. If the latter, she will have provided the court with physical proof of her infidelity. If the husband gets the girlfriend pregnant, it can lead to greater emotional difficulty reaching settlement, involvement of the pregnant girlfriend in the court case, and possibly the same physical proof of infidelity.

The bottom line is that getting pregnant, or getting someone pregnant, during a divorce is never a good idea. Becoming a parent is a momentous journey. The midst of your divorce is not the time to embark on it.

Don’t Vent (or Brag) on Social Media

We get it: marital troubles and divorce can be grueling, and sometimes you just need to vent. That used to mean just complaining to your best friend over a drink or a cup of coffee. Now, thanks to social media, we have the ability to air all our (unfiltered) feelings as soon as we have them, to hundreds of “friends” online. Unless someone comments, you may never know who has seen your rant—or who they have shared a screenshot with.

Even if you have blocked your spouse on social media, it’s quite possible that you have at least one mutual “friend” who would be willing to hand them potential evidence to use against you. For example, angry or hostile statements about your spouse could be used against you in a child custody dispute.

And it’s not just saying nasty things about your spouse on social media that can get you in trouble. Plenty of divorcing spouses have denied infidelity or argued that they couldn’t afford to pay alimony in legal documents. Then a picture surfaces on social media of them at a lavish beach resort in Aruba with their new love.

The fact of the matter is, your spouse’s lawyer can’t use something from social media against you if they don’t have it—and they probably won’t have it if you don’t provide it. If you can manage it, stay off social media altogether during your divorce.

Don’t Run Up Debt During Your Divorce

Running up unnecessary debt is always a bad idea, but it’s an especially bad idea during divorce for a number of reasons. Mounting debt leads to increasing stress, which can stoke conflict between you and your spouse. Running up debt can also damage your credit score and affect your ability to rebuild your life when your marriage ends.

In addition, debt, like assets, needs to be addressed when resolving marital property in divorce. If the court believes you were running up debt intentionally in the weeks and months before the divorce, the judge could conclude that you alone should be responsible for that debt, and can adjust the property result accordingly. That can put you in a weaker financial position as you embark on life after divorce.

Lastly, divorce is costly. Most people have to learn to live on less, at least for a while, after their divorce is final. Practicing frugality before you are divorced will make it less painful to do so afterward.

Don’t Try to Save Money by Representing Yourself in Divorce

Watching your pennies during divorce is wise, but there is such a thing as being “penny wise, pound foolish.” Not all expenditures are created equal. Hiring the best attorney you can find to represent you in your divorce is an investment in your future. Not only will having a skilled divorce attorney make the process less stressful for you, but a good attorney may be able to get you a much more favorable settlement in your divorce, leaving you in a far better financial position to begin your new life.

On a related note, don’t hire an attorney just because they quote you the lowest hourly rate. That rate could reflect a lack of experience, meaning the attorney may take longer to perform a service than a more seasoned divorce lawyer (and do a worse job). Since your attorney fee is the lawyer’s hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours they work on your behalf, a cut-rate lawyer could end up costing you more. And experience is what allows a good attorney to know what is needed versus what likely will be wasted effort without concrete results commensurate with the time investment.

Don’t Lie to Your Attorney

Hopefully, we have persuaded you of the wisdom of retaining an experienced divorce attorney. If so, don’t waste that good advice by lying to or misleading your attorney. It’s natural to want your divorce attorney to think well of you. But you are not paying them to be your friend; you are paying them to get the best possible outcome for you in your divorce. They cannot do that if they don’t know the truth—the whole truth.

You may have done things you are ashamed of: had affairs, spent recklessly, abused drugs or alcohol, or even been physically abusive to your spouse. Lying to your attorney doesn’t erase those deeds, but it does make it more difficult for your attorney to protect you from the negative consequences of them. It is always, always, always better for your attorney to hear unsavory truths from you than to be blindsided with them by your spouse’s lawyer. Knowing the weaknesses of your case early allows your lawyer to strategize and do damage control.

To learn more about things not to do during divorce, and what you should do instead, contact Strickler, Platnick & Hatfield to schedule a consultation.

Categories: Divorce