Our Alpharetta Divorce Lawyers Offer Important Tips to Keep in Mind During Your Divorce
The hurricane of emotions involved in a divorce – anger and resentment, sadness and loss – rarely brings out the best in the people. These emotions can cause even the most level-headed, rational, and kind individuals to act in wildly uncharacteristic ways. For those who are inclined to let negative emotions take control or who, they may see their divorce as an all-out war with their spouse where all is fair – even when it clearly isn’t. As our Alpharetta divorce lawyers know all to well, this situation can cause divorcing spouses to say and do things which are unethical, underhanded, or designed to inflict financial, emotional, or practical pain on the other.
Sadly, divorce offers plenty of opportunities for engaging in such dubious conduct. Georgia law and court rules are designed to ensure honesty, full disclosure, and fairness during the process, but a spouse determined to get the upper hand or hurt their former partner won’t see those laws or rules as much of an obstacle.
5 Bad Behaviors to Watch for in Your Divorce
If you are going through a divorce, you may find yourself on the receiving end of any number of improper and illegal divorce tricks; in your darker moments, you may even be tempted to engage in them yourself. Regardless of the motivation, divorcing spouses should avoid bad divorce behaviors, and a good Alpharetta divorce lawyer will be able to identify, confront, and address any such conduct by your spouse.
Here are five frequent tricks a divorcing spouse may try to game the system and hurt their soon-to-be-former spouse:
Even though Georgia law requires divorcing couples to make full, complete, and sworn disclosures to each other about their respective assets and liabilities, there are many ways to manipulate those disclosures by hiding assets or engaging in “creative” accounting practices. Such efforts are usually undertaken to make it seem like the spouse has less money and thus less to provide for child support and fewer marital assets to equitably divide with their spouse.
When successful, these attempts to deceive the other spouse – and the court – can result in financial arrangements that are wildly unfair, as they are premised on a false picture of the couple’s finances. Making matters worse, the more complex a couple’s finances are, the easier it can be to fudge the numbers or discreetly transfer or hide assets. That is why our Alpharetta divorce attorneys who suspect foul play often retain forensic accountants and other financial experts to expose any fraudulent conduct.
Weaponizing the Kids
Most parents do a pretty good job focusing on their child’s well-being during the divorce process; shielding them from the ugly details and arguments that should remain between the grown-ups.
But a parent’s love and strong bond with their child can be ripe for manipulation. If one parent is more interested in hurting the other parent than caring for their child, they may be inclined, intentionally or in the heat of emotion, to try to weaponize their kids. A parent can continually make negative, hurtful, or false comments about the other parent, hoping to drive a wedge between them. He or she may disrupt visitation schedules, yell at the other parent in front of the kids, or make unfounded allegations about the other parent’s that call into question their parental fitness. These are just a few of the ways a divorcing parent can poison the parent-child relationship and weaponize their children during a divorce.
Cutting Off Financial Resources
The financial and logistical challenges of divorce present several opportunities for one spouse to make day-to-day life difficult for the other. A vindictive spouse may “forget” to pay bills, cut off credit cards or run up huge balances, empty bank accounts, or terminate a cell-phone contract or other necessary services.
Voluntary Unemployment or Underemployment
Georgia courts consider several factors when calculating the amount of child support a parent will have to pay, including each parent’s respective financial resource. These “financial resources” include their income, such as salaries, wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, and payments received as an independent contractor.
Sometimes, in an effort to reduce their child support obligations, a parent may make career decisions designed to substantially reduce their income, such as quitting a job or taking a job that pays significantly less than they could otherwise earn with their training, background, education or experience.
A Georgia judge can evaluate “any intentional choice or act that affects a parent’s income” in order to determine “whether there is a substantial likelihood that the parent could, with reasonable effort, apply his or her education, skills, or training to produce income.” If the court finds that the parent is intentionally underemployed or unemployed, it can impute potential income on that parent and base the child support amounts on that income.
False Allegations of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious problem, and police, prosecutors, and Georgia law treat allegations of abuse and violence against a spouse with equal seriousness. Though domestic violence is a very real and all too frequent occurrence, the unfortunate reality is that it is not uncommon for a spouse to make up or exaggerate such claims in an effort to hurt the other spouse or gain an advantage on custody, support, or visitation issues.
In fact, according to one report:
- About one-quarter of all divorces in the U.S. involve an allegation of spousal violence.
- In about 70% of those cases, the allegation is found to be unnecessary or false.
- Each year, about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with unfounded allegations of domestic violence.
Our lawyers are aware of these “tricks” employed in a divorce, and we’re here to help you through it.
A Note About Social Media from Our Alpharetta Divorce Lawyers
While posting an eye-catching article or a funny cat video may not cause you problems, sharing thoughts, comments or pictures about your life, marriage and spouse on social media can have a dreadful impact on the outcome of your divorce. Ill-advised posts and pictures have become powerful weapons in divorce proceedings, and your online life can be a treasure trove of information for your spouse and their lawyer. Almost anything you post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media site – as well anything posted by others – can and will be used against you in a Georgia divorce proceeding. Our Alpharetta divorce lawyers know how you’re feeling and how sharing can help you vent. That said, we also want to protect you.
Social Media Posts Giving Your Spouse Evidence
The use of social media posts as evidence in divorce cases has become standard operating procedure. More than 80 percent of divorce lawyers surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported an explosive increase in the amount of evidence collected from social networking sites in the past few years.
An NBC News survey of numerous divorce and family law attorneys provided some illustrative examples of how social media caused headaches in divorce proceedings:
- A husband went on Match.com and proudly declared his single, childless status while also seeking primary custody of his supposedly nonexistent children.
- A husband denied that he had anger management issues, but his denial was undermined by his Facebook profile in which he claimed that “If you have the balls to get in my face, I’ll kick your ass into submission.”
- A mom testified under oath that she did not use marijuana, but the picture she posted on Facebook of her smoking pot at a party made that claim go up in smoke.
- A spouse sought alimony claiming he was unemployed, which slightly contradicted his online bragging about his great new job.
Don’t Rely on Privacy Settings
Of course, you wouldn’t be so foolish as to post such obviously harmful comments. Besides, only your friends can see your posts because of your privacy settings. But your privacy settings won’t necessarily save you.
Several courts have held that social media postings are not private, even when users adjust their privacy settings to hide their posts from public view. Facebook and Twitter’s privacy policies warn users that the purpose of the sites is to share information, and there have been cases where judges have ordered litigants to turn over social media passwords so that opposing counsel or prosecutors could gain access to the accounts and see all there is to see.
Do you really want your soon-to-be-ex and his or her lawyer to know where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, who you have been with or your state of mind? Would you want a judge to see your posts or photos? Whenever you think about posting on social media, these are the questions you need to ask yourself. If you can’t go cold turkey on social media, try to limit your posts as much as possible and avoid any posts that discuss your spouse, your marriage, your case, or your feelings.
Call the Alpharetta Divorce Lawyers at North Metro Litigators Today
The Alpharetta divorce attorneys at North Metro Litigators know the tricks unscrupulous spouses use to unfairly skew the divorce process, and we know how to expose such conduct and hold them accountable.