A divorce could be ugly before the first document is filed, or it could turn ugly at any point during the process. Once a person has decided to file for divorce, he or she should assume his or her spouse is not a friend. A divorce means splitting assets, working out child custody and visitation arrangements, and more. When money and kids are involved, a person could turn on someone he or she once loved since that love is no longer there to hold things together.
Even if both spouses still think they love one another, but cannot continue living together, one is going to think that the division of assets or the way custody works out isn’t fair. And that usually means all bets are off.
Even if a divorce hasn’t turned ugly, a person on the brink of divorce or who is in the process of a divorce needs to clean up his or her social media accounts. Get rid of pictures that show you partying, pictures that show you with a new partner and anything else that might harm you in court. People tend to think that photos and comments won’t be used against them, but then are surprised when these things show up in a courtroom.
Keep all communications with your spouse civil. Discuss only what is needed to arrange for the children including but not limited child care and visitation, medical and school issues. Always assume that your spouse may be recording you or videotaping you. When one spouse meets another to drop off or pick up children, or to drop off or pick up personal belongings, bring a witness if possible. If the encounter turns ugly, you’ll have someone to relate your side of the story, if needed.
And most of all, don’t fall into the trap of arguing with your spouse. If he or she tries to start an argument over child custody and visitation issues, money, assets or liabilities, refer your spouse to your attorney.
A spouse who does not want a divorce, regardless of the reason – love or selfish reasons – may turn bitter, which can make the divorce process particularly ugly. If a spouse notices that the other spouse picks fights, tries to bully him or her, is creating issues with the children or is physically abusive, ask your attorney to set up child drop off and pick up at the police station. If personal assets need to be exchanged, the spouse who is suffering from physical and/or emotional abuse should have a police officer present. When children are involved, a spouse’s physical and emotional abuse affects the children. A spouse may need court intervention when his or her soon-to-be ex-spouse is abusive, even if the abuse is not directed toward the children.
If a spouse is his or her loving self when he or she isn’t high on drugs or alcohol, don’t let your guard down. Remember, that person could be recording or videotaping the other spouse to catch him or her in a trap. Keep the meetings “professional,” short and to the point. If you have children together, notify your attorney of your spouse’s abuse issues so that the attorney is able to ask the courts to enter the appropriate documents to get the children away from the dangerous situation. A court may order supervised visitation with a spouse who is known to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Parental alienation is when one parent “encourages” the children to go against the other parent. This is common in custody battles, and in most cases, is not in the best interests of the children. If both parents are equally loving and caring toward the children, the children should have the benefit of being raised by both parents. If you have proof that your spouse is participating in such practices, discuss these issues with your attorney.
Regardless of whether a divorce is ugly, each spouse should have his or her own attorney to ensure that his or her rights are not violated. Contact the Edgar & Dow if your divorce is ugly, looks like it might get ugly or even if the divorce is going smoothly and you agree with everything. We will ensure that your rights, whether for child custody and visitation issues or division of assets and liabilities, are not violated.
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