The Consequences of Behaving Badly During Divorce

By February 28, 2014Divorce

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce on Friday, February 28, 2014

In our last post we highlighted ten common behaviors that can have negative consequences on the divorce process.  In this post, we focus on some of the fallout of those particular behaviors.

  1. Putting the Children in the Middle.  Parents can put the children in the middle of a contentious divorce in a variety of ways, from trash talking the other parent to using the child as a messenger to manufacturing stories of abuse.  Generally, these actions have a harmful effect on the children and will cause the offending parent to lose legal and/or physical custody to some degree.  A parent who would use a child to manipulate the court system demonstrates a severe lack of judgment about the welfare of the child, and that lack of judgment could convince a judge to vest sole legal custody in the other parent.  A parent who uses the child to alienate the child from the other parent could in fact lose some allocated periods of physical custody.
  2. Dating During Divorce.  Judges may perceive parents who begin serious relationships during divorce with skepticism, particularly if that parent rapidly involves the children with the new partner.  Given the amount of tumult and transition and confusion divorce causes a child, a parent who adds to this burden by so quickly trying to form a new family may be perceived by a judge as exercising poor judgment that would not be in the best interests of the children, and limit legal or physical custody.
  3. No Abuse.  Any type of physical or verbal abuse requires a finding in the Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage (by statute) and that finding could limit legal or physical custody.
  4. Choose the Right Attorney for You.  We see spouses change attorneys during litigation more than one might imagine, and usually this results from the client and the attorney viewing the litigation of the case differently.  Changing attorneys midstream creates the impression of at least confusion and, depending upon the timing, a sense that one party wants to agitate rather than conciliate.  From a practical standpoint, the second attorney will need lead time to catch up, which may not always be given, creating an advantage of sorts for the other spouse.  The shift may also leave a negative impression upon the judge.  At a minimum, the shift will result in an increase in overall legal fees.
  5. Know Your Goals and Advocate.  Above all, do not float passively through your own divorce, as you will only come to regret your silence later.  Let your spouse and your attorney know where you stand on key issues, and do not agree to any settlement unless your issues have been properly vetted and addressed to your satisfaction.

These are just some common sense suggestions to some common problems during divorce.  We hope you have found them helpful.

If you have questions about divorce, contact us – we can help.