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Divorce dos and don'ts

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Making decisions during the turmoil of a divorce is difficult and riddled with risks. A spouse considering the end of a marriage should carefully consider their first steps and avoiding other actions.

Money should be set aside immediately for upcoming expenses. Before any filings, financial documents and legal records should be gathered, copied and stored in a safe place inaccessible from the other spouse. These include bank statements, wills, trusts, tax returns, deeds, insurance policies, car titles and investment statements.

Spouses often, even unintentionally, use their children as weapons. Children should never be used to punish the other spouse or as messengers. Involving the children can lead to resentment and harm the relationship with the children.

A spouse should share information only with a very small circle of friends and confidantes. Nonetheless, everyone may want to share their opinions, advice and personal experiences. Friends and relatives may provide needed emotional support but they have difference experiences and lack the financial and legal expertise needed to provide competent advice.

Anything done or said by a spouse may be used against them during divorce proceedings, result in embarrassment or harm family members and friends. Never assume that it will never be made public or posted on social media. Accordingly, a spouse should use caution with their social media postings, e-mail, texts and snaps. Social media is not the place to engage in arguments, rants or negative feelings about the other spouse.

Children, pets or personal property should not be the target of negative feelings or anger toward the other spouse. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol is also unhealthy and may even prove harmful for divorce proceedings. This is also a bad time to start a new relationship which may become an issue in divorce proceedings. It may also lead to additional emotional baggage during a tumultuous time.

Keeping the big picture in mind and engaging in good-faith negotiations in also important. Disputing minor issues may diminish the likelihood of obtaining a fair and reasonable decree on other matters such as child support or custody and leave decision-making to the judge.

An attorney can help a spouse consider options and settlements and prepare for this process. They can also assure that rights are protected in mediation or legal proceedings.

Source: The Good Men Project, "9 things you should NEVER do during divorce," By Jack Carney-Debord, J.D., Oct. 20, 2017

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