What can you not do during a divorce?
If you are watching the Depp versus Heard defamation lawsuit on television, or reading about it online in multiple accounts about the $100 million claim, you know that you should be very careful what you say to or about someone you are divorcing. Ending a marriage is emotionally painful and financially expensive.
The divorce between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard occurred after a short 15 month marriage and occurred in 2016, but descended into a chaotic, nasty battle encompassing multiple lawsuits, divorce lawyers and defamation attorneys involving alleged abuse, assault and other claims against one another.
It goes without saying that this was the sort of divorce nobody wants. But divorce can be intensely emotional as any of the 630,000 or so divorces that occur in the United States with 2.3 divorces per 1000 in the population according to statistics.
Avoiding the sort of Heard-Depp confrontation and divorce warfare is obvious – as if anyone can afford it anyway – but there are some important ‘don’t dos’ according to divorce lawyers Kaufman Steinberg LLP who point out that in California there is six months before a divorce becomes final and to make that period as smooth as possible then adhere to the key ‘don’t’ rules.
So what are these ‘divorce law’ rules?
1. Don’t Post Anything About the Divorce Online.
An amicable uncoupling can be interrupted by your comments on social media. The use of social media can be highly detrimental, or defamatory (reference, once again, the Heard-Depp fight) and is to be avoided.
There is any number of matters that might be posted to social media – social activities, your children, your latest best meal – but keep your private life to yourself when it comes to a divorce situation, which can have a significant effect upon both your financial future and your parental rights, apart from anything elsle.
2. Do not Hide Money
In California, the money and property you acquire during a marriage are considered communal unless you have a prenuptial agreement or a specific agreement about a particular asset.
The judge in your divorce calculates all of the debt you have created during your marriage and subtracts that amount of money from the assets you have acquired during a marriage. You are not legally allowed to stash away money for yourself, not even after agreeing to get a divorce.
If you hide assets, your divorce may take a lot longer than it would otherwise. You may even be held in contempt of court. You want your spouse to be honest, and you should be honest as well.
3. Don’t Date
Going through a divorce can make you feel lonely. It is only natural to want romantic companionship. However, it is seldom a good idea to date when you get a divorce. Dating and divorce seldom go together well and dating can fan the flames in the divorce action and delay an equitable settlement.
Even if you were faithful throughout your marriage, having a new person in your life before you are officially divorced may look suspicious to the other spouse and be used against you. It can make your soon-to-be-ex and a judge think that the relationship has continued or been a factor in the breakup.
It can also have a significant effect on custody issues, let alone create problems that your children may have with you over the dating. Infidelity or even the mere perception of infidelity can affect your ability to get custody of the children, including co-parenting arrangements.
It can also lead to a prolonged divorce settlement and wind up costing more money, as well as the potential pursuit of attempts to keep your children away from your new love interest – thereby costing more in both financial and emotional terms.
Dating during a divorce is particularly harmful if you have a prenuptial agreement. Most prenuptial agreements will include a clause about infidelity, which may affect your ability to get alimony.
4. Do not Put the Children in the Middle.
Divorce is hard on children, and you never want to make them take a side in a divorce. Not only can this traumatize the children, but it can also make the procedure take longer.
Saying bad things about your spouse will not make you more popular with your children. It may make them resent both of you. If you resort to these kinds of tactics, a judge may give you less time with your kids.
You must go to family counseling as you go through the process of a divorce. Your kids need to know that both parents will still be there for them.
5. Don’t Disregard Taxes.
When you are dividing assets, it is very important to consider taxes. There are certain assets, such as a house, that come with a large tax bill. Stocks are often divided up in a divorce. If there is a considerable amount of money involved, you may have to pay a capital gains tax on those stocks.
Married people enjoy tax shelters that single people do not. You should consult with an accountant as well as your attorney before signing any kind of agreement.
6. Do not go Without a Lawyer.
You and your spouse may be good friends, and you may think you do not need a lawyer. However, emotions run high during a divorce, and you need someone who knows the law and can look at things objectively.
A professional attorney will have years of experience filling out divorce paperwork. Paperwork mistakes can often hold up a divorce. The last thing you want to do is make the end of your marriage take longer than it should.
Getting a divorce can be very painful. However, if you get a good divorce lawyer and avoid the pitfalls, you can have a smooth journey to the next chapter of your life.