There are numerous ways to mess up your divorce case which lead to undesirable results and make your divorce case a circus for both you and your attorney. Avoiding these behaviors can prevent attorney client conflict allowing you and your counsel to work together in order to complete your case as efficiently as possible. The following are 7 ways that may add conflict in your case and should be avoided to prevent conflicts.
Calling your Attorney “Too Too” Much
In some cases individuals feel that they must frequently call their divorce attorney whether their is a compelling reason or not; sometimes even multiple times per day. In reality this doesn’t allow for your attorney to efficiently work on your case. When important things come up in a case that need to be communicated, it is usually best to send an email, schedule a phone call with your attorney and perhaps leave a message with the attorney’s assistant or paralegal. If you do not receive any response to an important issue, by all means you should follow-up on your questions and concerns. However, it is usually in your best interest to avoid making phone several phone calls to your divorce attorney unless absolutely necessary. As mentioned above, emails work very well and we encourage client to schedule phone calls and in-office meetings.
Thinking of your Attorney as Your New Best Friend
You should not treat your attorney the same as your friends and attempt to get them on “your side.” In especially high conflict cases extending for large amounts of time – some attorneys tend to adopt the personalities and behaviors of their client in response to the other party. However, this does not help you in your case. In order to have your case adequately represented your attorney should remain as neutral as possible in order to comprehend the other party’s side and find problematic loopholes in their arguments — they must do this by sympathizing in their claims, while still being logically critical about their claims pitfalls. You should also refrain from biasing your close friends. During a divorce you are likely to change in many relationships and it is not uncommon for friendships to sour and break up. If you have discussed anything regarding your divorcing spouse with ex-friends they are likely to come to court to throw you under the bus. Your regular friends may also be a negative influence encouraging you to seek retribution for the negative actions of the other spouse. You should avoid talking about the divorce with anyone bur your divorce attorney – and remember to your attorney is a professional hired to help you with a difficult legal situation. Only discuss your divorce with immediate family members if necessary, and avoid at all cost discussing the case with or around your children.
Hire an Overly Expensive Lawyer
Even in the case of divorce you should, “never stretch your feet farther than your blanket.” This means that you should never hire an attorney that you cannot afford, because hiring the most expensive divorce attorney does not necessarily mean the best. It is more important that you stay as financially stable as possible during the divorce and that you are not being forced to pay out everything you own to pay legal fees. It is best to not hire inexperienced divorce attorney that has the lowest rates in town, and to be wary of attorneys that charge expensive rates and make promises about things that they cannot be certain about. It’s more important that your attorney is familiar with the county the case is in, experience with the courts, and is familiar with the area of divorce and family law you are requesting their expertise in.
Not Paying your Attorneys Bill
“You get what you pay for.” Does the saying ring a bell? This saying especially holds true with attorney bills. In some cases you may have to pay your attorney bill monthly in small sums in order to pay off large debt; however there is little excuse not to pay anything at all. Attorneys loath having to work on your case when they know that you haven’t paid your latest bill on time and hate it even more when the feel as if their staff has to chase you down to get a payment. If you are asking for your counsel to work on your case or ever take a new case in the future it is best to pay your bills as you are supposed to. In addition, non-payment is one of the leading reasons attorneys will withdraw from representation in a case.
Only Speak To the Other Spouse through Attorneys
Unless you have a reasonable excuse as to why you cannot communicate with you’re soon to be ex; such as, a restraining order then you should be able to talk to them yourself. If you are worried about being false accused of saying something you didn’t then you may communicate through, text, email, or on recorded phone calls. Attorney’s hate having to relay every single message between the parties, but may benefit by the way it dramatically increases your attorney bills. In fact if you want to decrease your court cost to a minimum you should be actively trying to speak to the other spouse to reduce legal processes and to negotiate a settlement—this should be done before attempting mediation or going to court.
Wasting Time and your Money
Some inexperienced or uncaring divorce lawyers will file as much legal paperwork as you request – and more – even if they know that it will not lead anywhere except for you being in trouble and increasing your debts. Filing pointless paperwork is a waste of time and money, and even worse it can land you in big trouble with the legal system. If you incite conflict or are completely difficult in the legal case you will not only find yourself paying for your attorney’s fees, but your ex-spouse’s fees as well.
Playing the Victim – and Becoming the Victim
The courts are well practiced at catching individuals in perjury. If you make your whole divorce case about everything negative the other spouse ever did to you without legitimate proof then you can become the victim. Even in cases where individuals have photographic evidence of victimization and undisputable evidence of victimization their testimony is often discounted in court cases not directly related to protective orders. It is not necessary to make your whole case about your victimization even if events did actually occur. You should state your proof for your claim and simply state what you experienced without making it the whole case. In most cases if you being a victim overruns your other case you will appear as someone attacking the other spouse and may only be further victimized by the court. Avoid blaming the other party for everything that went wrong—make an account of your actions and own up to them; judges respect this.
Refusing to Settle Other than Court
If you refuse to settle anything and make everything an issue to be determined by the court you will be viewed as difficult and the other party’s counsel will be sure that the judge awards you to pay their attorney’s fees. Most cases are settled either in mediation or immediately prior to going to court. If you do decide to settle in the court house immediately before your hearing then you will not be allowed to nit-pick out the small details. Even worse you will not have time to change your mind. To make matters worse your settlement agreement will generally be hastily written and may contain mistakes not caught, forcing you to turn around and go back to court to resolve the issues.
How to Mess up your Divorce Case with the Other Spouse
Failing to Keep your Cool
Failing to keep your cool is the number one cause of messing up divorce cases. If you are unable to keep your cool then you may end up with any number of accusations against you in court and if there is solid proof that you acted in domestic violence, made terroristic threats, or are dangerous to yourself or others than you may negatively impact your divorce case. In fact you may find yourself in jail, jail without bond / terroristic threats, with a restraining order against you, or in a mental healthcare facility. Be sure to act rational and avoid over contact with your soon to be ex – keeping your distance will generally act in your best interest and enable you to keep your cool.
Being Reckless with Social Media
Social media during a family law case can either be your best friend or your enemy –it is a double edged sword. Your social media may help you collect evidence against the other party, but it may also let a private investigator know exactly where you are, where you go, who you talk to, who you are dating, and all of the drunken pictures from the last get together at the local bar. The worst thing you can do during a divorce is to leave your social media public. However, if you do not want to deactivate all of your accounts then you can go in and edit all of your social media settings –which may require you to edit each individual posting. In addition you can play it safe by making absolutely sure that you aren’t posting any new post public and when in doubt not updating any part of your social media. Lastly, make sure you are not seen in any unscrupulous places, positions, or photographed in such circumstances- as you may still be tagged on Facebook on others social media profiles.
Flaunting the New Relationship
Moving on during a divorce is generally not the best of ideas. The process of divorce may in fact even destroy your relationship with anyone new if they are included in your divorce case. If kids and child custody are to be determined in your case you should not be dating at all during the case. Dating or getting engaged while you’re still married to your spouse is a sure fire way to ignite conflict. If you do date during the divorce process you should limit the dating and not develop anything serious until after the conclusion of your case.
Volunteering to Move Out
You should never volunteer to move out especially if you do not have anywhere else to go. Moving out prematurely can impact your claims to the marital property and your claims to custody. Moving out can cause many financial problems that can be worked out if the move occurs as a result of a temporary hearing. If you move out you may be required to support a new household or have to pay on another mortgage or rent. To make matters worse in addition you will still be required to support the former household—if you are the family bread winner. If you move out you will still be required in most cases to support the family unit as you previously had while living in the marital home. Until the court determines otherwise you still maintain the right to stay in the home even during the divorce.
Keeping Secret Money
While it may be tempting to hide money during the divorce it is highly unlikely that you will get away with it. If you feel that you need to hide something to keep it out of the other spouse’s fingers then you should have signed a prenuptial agreement. In the state of Georgia during a divorce you’re soon to be ex is entitled to an equitable division of all the marital assets. If you are caught trying to conceal money during your divorce your financial situation will fall under strict scrutiny and it will be presumed that you are fraudulently presenting all other financial reports.
Avoid These Actions When Minor Children are Involved
Do Not Share Too Much Information with Your Children
At all cost you should avoid sharing any information about the case with your children. Even other stresses of your personal life should not be discussed as the can be relayed back to the other parent. If your children know that you are stressed they will also become stressed, if you become paranoid they will become paranoid, and if you develop anxiety they will also follow. Avoid sharing with your children your problems at work, avoid telling your child about your dating life, avoid discussing problems paying bills, and or unloading your problems on your child. Your child, believe it or not has their own stressors, like peer pressures, fitting in, doing school work, and participating in sports. Don’t force your child to grow up prematurely just because you need to release your adult problems and vent –it’s not worth it and your children will resent having their childhood stolen from them.
Do Not Talk Bad About Your Spouse – Their Parent
Even if you are telling your children the truth about the other spouse they should not be told every last detail and attacking the other parent when speaking to the child. If you talk bad about the other parent to the child you will be found guilty of parent alienation in court, especially if it can be proven that you have engaged in such behaviors. Furthermore, if you think talking bad about the other parent is going to help bring the children over to “your side” it won’t. Engaging in alienating behaviors will not only damage the relationship with the other parent, but it will also damage your relationship with your child. A child will only see it as the alienating parent is forcing them to go to visitation with a horrible monster and therefore the alienating parent must not really care about them. In other words destroying the other parent will only destroy you—just don’t do it.
Moving and Getting Married ASAP
Kids adapt to change at the same rate as adults and may in fact take longer than most to adjust to new situations. Think about it, how many times did you force your child to eat their vegetables before they decided they liked them? The same thing applies to moving, making drastic life changes, and remarriage. If you make too many changes too quickly you are on the fast track to disaster. Too many changes too quickly will make your child feel powerless and is sure to put your child in therapy at some point in life. In addition, moving too quickly can also place you in a predicament especially if the inclusion of a new situation or step parent creates a rift in a parent child relationship. Transitions should be made slowly and children should be included in plans for change well in advance so that they are able to process the change or prepare for it.
Putting Yourself Ahead of Your Children
Your divorce isn’t all about you it is about your entire family. When parents’ divorce, split, or break up children are the most impacted. It is absolutely necessary that the needs of the children are put before yours or the other spouses. If you decide to make the divorce all about you or you allow the other spouse to do the same then you are allowing the divorce to destroy your children. It is important to remember that the party that considers the child’s best interest generally becomes the primary physical custodian. Your behaviors during a divorce can therefore impact who receives what during custody decisions.
Do Not Guilt you’re Kids into Obedience
Placing guilt on your children for obedience is a common practice following a divorce. Often times parents at odds with themselves, following a divorce, and struggling with being a single parenting; end up having to use inappropriate methods of parenting in order to “keep their children in line.” However, this is the first sign that you have given up on parenting. If you are wanting to deal with children with arrested development and serious self-esteem issues then using guilt as a parenting tool is a great way to land your child in long term therapy.
Using your Children as Spies
Using your children as intelligence gatherers from the other parent is never a good idea. Pumping your child for information is never in your child’s best interest. Pumping questions usually consist of, “what did you do while you were with your father? Where did you go with your mother? Did you see anyone else during visitation? What did you eat for dinner?” Usually these questions are asked for the purpose of the asking parent to make passive aggressive negative remarks and will be viewed by such by the court. Unless it is a health or physical safety issue you should not engage in asking questions following visitation. Instead you should provide your child with a comfortable environment following visitation. If you use your children as a pawn in a custody dispute you will most likely be labeled as at fault for parental alienation that can result in a change of custody. It is important to remember that as long as you are making your child feel comfortable and you allow for your child to have open communication with you then they will be able to tell you if anything negative is happening—without question.
Putting Your Children in the Middle
If someone really wants to negatively impact their children they will go through their divorce like a game of monkey in the middle with their kids not even being given a chance. If you put your child in the middle of the divorce and are pulling at your child in a game of human tug of war you will be sure to destroy your child. Parents that engage in such behaviors genuinely do not care about the best interest of the child and would rather the child be torn in half then rather settle for the child being shared during visitation. Forcing a child to choose sides and select loyalties is playing such a game and if the judge believes this is honestly the case both parents may be at risk for losing custody.
It is important during your divorce case to avoid the previously mentioned behaviors because they will destroy your legal case, make it impossible to settle, create problems with the other spouse, and destroy parental relationships with your children. If you have a divorce or family law case please contact us at Coleman Legal Group, LLC at 770-609-1247 for a consultation. Our divorce and family law attorneys are well experienced in divorce and other aspects of family law and will be able to assist you in your case.