Contested divorces are never pleasant or easy. Some spouses engage in inappropriate, disruptive or even illegal behavior during divorce proceedings. Misconduct rarely benefits the person acting badly and typically makes the divorce process more difficult and costly.
The following five bad behaviors are all too common and should be scrupulously avoided:
- Weaponizing children — Divorcing parents sometimes use their children as pawns. One parent tries to turn the children against the other parent out of hatred or a desire for revenge. One spouse seeks to interfere with the other’s custodial or visitation rights. The children usually suffer the most from this type of behavior, since it negatively affects their relationship with both parents. In addition, it can lead a family law judge to issue unfavorable rulings against the offending parent.
- Threats or violence — Divorce proceedings can be very emotional, but self-control is essential. Making threats or assaulting a spouse will almost always end badly, perhaps resulting in contempt or criminal charges. Evidence of aggression or abuse of any kind will almost certainly affect any child custody and visitation proceedings. Also, a judge has discretion to compensate the victim.
- Financial misconduct — Some people try to benefit or punish the other spouse by manipulating their finances. One spouse may hide assets from the other to exclude them from equitable distribution. Or a spouse may waste assets through frivolous spending or intentional dissipation. A judge finding these actions have occurred can impose sanctions and compensate the innocent spouse.
- Occupational interference — Sometimes one spouse will try to damage the other’s career or business, such as by making false claims to the other spouse’s employer or smearing the spouse’s professional reputation online. This behavior can result in a judge compensating the victim through property distribution or in certain circumstances might lead to sanctions against the offender. The victim might also sue the offender for defamation in civil court.
- Stalking — Occasionally one spouse will stalk the other online or in person. Appearing mentally unstable or unhinged negatively affects that parent’s chances for child custody. Also, a judge might compensate the innocent spouse during the property division. Criminal charges are also possible.
Regardless of how great their differences, parties to a divorce should try to treat the case more like a business transaction rather than a personal battle. The less energy is spent on emotional gamesmanship, the more likely that the spouses can achieve a mutually beneficial result that lets them move forward with their lives.
Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights, Michigan is one of suburban Detroit’s most highly respected divorce and family relation law firms. If you are a party to a divorce action, contact us online or call 833-671-4445 for a free initial consultation.