The Recommended Dos and Don’ts in Your Divorce or Custody Case

Experienced lawyers, who exclusively practice Family Law, know that clients can become their own worst enemy. These kinds of behaviors may not be intentional, but nonetheless, actions that seem harmless can become much more harmful while in the “divorce court.”

Do not rely on your spouse for information or for you to be treated in an honest fashion once the divorce or custody action commences. As an example, many folks do not have written signed agreements and operate by trusting each other to be, “fair and honest”. It is my experience, that once a Family Law case makes its way into the court system, parties tend to take positions and postures that are like prized fighters before the main event. The information you once had no problem accessing, may be cut off. Confusion as to what to do and how to get that kind of information may become a real challenge. In a recent case, when the wife filed for divorce and custody of the parties’ children, she decided that because she had always paid all of the bills and had all of the banking information, that it was no longer necessary for her to share that information with her husband. In effect, the husband was cut off from the banking information that was held jointly because the wife had changed all of the essential passwords. Whenever the client was told he had to pay a bill that was due, he immediately suspected that his wife was not being honest with him and refused to give her access to the monies she had always had to pay the monthly bills. It is easy to see how this kind of thing can escalate quickly and cause more stress and friction than necessary. To get ahead of this problem, before a divorce is filed, the parties should talk and discuss their monthly bills and expenses in advance and figure out what is needed to keep those bills current. It is a good idea to have a list of the monthly bills and the amounts due before you and your spouse get into any “heated exchanges.”

Do not use Social Media, of any kind, while you and your spouse are in the process of any pending Family Law matters. It is not good idea for you or your spouse to allow the public or your spouse or the parent of your children to have access to recent Facebook postings or other social media sites. A client of mine sent me copies of postings that showed his wife with her new boyfriend on their recent cruise. His wife told him that she was going away with her sister for a wedding, only to find out that this was an untruth. He figured if she is lying about a relationship, she really could not be trusted about anything else and demanded full custody of the child, because he believed it showed that she was unfaithful and a liar. Things in this case quickly got out of hand for both parties.

You must be certain to get the best legal advice possible! This is no time for you to try to handle your Family Law case on your own. Every Divorce and Every Child Custody case is different. If you rely on a friend for advice because that friend went through what you are going through, you are going to get, “BAD ADVICE”. The specific factual details of your case are not going to be the same as your friend’s case, and the strategies that your friend used, most likely will not work in your case. I have had clients come to me and tell me that before I was hired, they received advice from family, from their hair salon, from their co-workers, and a variety of other sources. Getting advice from anyone other than a respected extremely qualified Family Law Attorney, is a very bad idea, and can jeopardize your case.
Do not rely on the Internet for legal advice. There may be hundreds of articles regarding cases similar to yours, but keep in mind, general information from any website is not the kind of information that will prove helpful to you during a Family Law litigation. The websites that provide the public with information may not even be authored by a lawyer and in most situations could be misleading or confusing.

When you are considering any action in a Family Law matter, keep detailed records and notes. Do not discard important text and email communications with your partner that may be found to be helpful in the future. Do not allow the records or your notes to be shared with anyone but your lawyer. If you allow friends or your romantic interests to have access to these kinds or records you may destroy the “confidentiality” provisions of the Attorney/Client privilege. You may be able to preserve invaluable evidence that proves your theory of the case, or can be used to impeach the other party, by carefully keeping and not deleting communications. An experienced lawyer should always be looking towards the day when the lawyer must appear in court and assemble the kind of evidence that supports a client’s claim or defense. Lawyers who are trial litigators, in Family Law, understand the value of critical evidence and will know how to introduce and use the evidence in court that you may not understand.

If you have children and you and your spouse or former spouse are moving through the legal process with a custody matter or a modification issue, do not involve the children in any way. Children are meant to be shielded from their parent’s legal disputes. Judges do not appreciate hearing that parents have shared with the children, the facts or important events in the legal proceeding. These kinds of communications, with children, can result in a judge believing that the only purpose of involving the children was to negatively impact the other parent. An example of this occurred when my client’s ex-husband consistently told the children that the reason he was out of money was because their mother was always taking him back to court for more child support. Involving kids in their parent’s legal disputes is NEVER a good idea.

By obtaining advice from the right kind of Family Law Attorney, you can avoid stepping on the minefields that may result in sabotaging your case, now and in the future!