Ending a marriage is a stressful life event, regardless of how amicable the two parties are. However, things may go sideways quickly when the couple is not on good terms or one of the spouses is suspected of cheating or hiding assets. This makes a difficult divorce much more challenging.
As divorce attorneys, we are familiar with how certain marital problems make emotions run high. Some people employ divorce tactics that are aimed at punishing their ex rather than trying to come to a fair settlement. Unfortunately, these strategies only serve to cause pain to all involved, including collateral damage to other family members.
We advise our clients to take the more civil or amicable approach when possible. And when it’s clear that the other party or attorney is not going to be civil, our attorneys are there to take aggressive action to mitigate the issues. Having a plan and being proactive will keep financial or other irreparable harm from occurring.
What to Watch Out For
If you suspect your spouse is planning to file for divorce soon, it’s important to protect yourself financially. Make sure you track your joint bank account, credit cards, and credit line, particularly if you think your soon-to-be ex may go behind your back and drain your account or max out cards. Set up regular updates from the bank to catch this behavior before it becomes a problem.
Financial tactics that may be perpetrated include the primary earner moving out, their refusal to pay bills, or effectively refusing to support the household. Sometimes the goal is to force the spouse into a hasty settlement.
Even when the primary earner is ordered by the court to pay their spouse monthly, they may start withholding support payments until the very last day. In some states, the payment isn’t considered delinquent until it’s 30 days late, which can make paying the bills very difficult for the recipient of support.
Then there are the emotional strategies, such as filing frivolous motions simply to delay the process and/or to cause the other party the inconvenience of a financial hit. Refusal of child visitation as punishment to the non-custodial spouse is another tactic. And some try to propound unnecessary discovery to overwhelm the other party.
Getting Advice for Your Situation
We recognize that this information is not easy to read, but we believe it is critical for our clients to know what to prepare for, what to watch out for and what questions to ask. Information is knowledge and the more informed you are regarding shady divorce strategies the better off you will be in the end. People often ask if there is an advantage to filing first. Since CA is a no-fault state, technically the answer is no. But in a contentious divorce there may be an advantage. The bottom line is if you’re headed for a litigated divorce, meet with an attorney to come up with a clear legal plan to move your case forward.
At Buncher Family Law, we handle many types of divorce cases. We are considered by many to be the top-tier divorce attorneys in Orange County because we will work with you from start to finish to make certain you walk away with a fair and equitable settlement.