Divorce is one of the most difficult transitions you can face, and regardless of how amicable, fair, and straightforward you and your divorcing spouse are, you are going to pay an emotional price. However, if your spouse chooses to play dirty, it is certain to make the experience that much more difficult, and it puts your financial and parental rights in considerable jeopardy. If you are facing a divorce and you are concerned that your soon-to-be-ex is up to no good, it is time to reach out to an experienced Killeen divorce attorney.
Keeping Your Divorce out of Court
No two divorces are mirror images of one another. Your divorce will follow its own unique path – with its own twists and turns – but the one universal that applies to all divorces is that they address the same basic divorce terms, including:
The division of marital property
Child custody arrangements
Alimony (called spousal maintenance in Texas)
None of these is easy to negotiate, but if your divorcing spouse is engaging in virtual warfare, you can expect the process to be next to impossible. If your soon-to-be-ex is invested in making your divorce as painfully complicated as possible, there is a good chance that settling your divorce outside of court may not be an option. Further, if your spouse is engaging in particularly egregious divorce practices, going to court is very likely the only way to adequately protect your rights. Your knowledgeable divorce attorney will help you explore your best options and will help you make the necessary determinations when the time comes.
You Have Been Served
Unless one spouse waives service, one of you will need to serve the other with divorce papers, but the process is generally lowkey and straightforward. If your divorcing spouse, however, wants to use service as a weapon, he or she can certainly do that – and it is likely to start your divorce off with a bang. For example, if your spouse springs a divorce on you out of nowhere – with divorce service – it can be extremely painful and can make getting your bearings and moving through the divorce process with purpose even more difficult. If your divorcing spouse decides to take matters to the next level, he or she may have you served when it is least opportune. Consider the following utterly inappropriate (and humiliating scenarios):
When you are in the middle of an important work conference
When you are celebrating with family and friends
When you are involved in a school activity with your children
Using the service of divorce papers to hammer away at one’s spouse is a dirty move that sets the tone for a very complicated divorce ahead.
Coming Home to an Empty House
Another bold move that some spouses use to sabotage their unsuspecting partners is clearing out the house while the other is out of town. Coming home to an empty house is about as bleak as it gets, and it demonstrates the level of effort your spouse is willing to put into making your divorce a knock-down, drag-out affair. Your spouse is sending a clear message that he or she is going to take everything he or she can get, and you should take the message seriously.
Your Card Has Been Declined
Imagine picking up the tab on your dear friend’s birthday lunch – only to have the credit card that you have been using steadily for the last decade be declined. Your spouse does not have to put much effort into canceling a credit card that both your names are on, but it can make a big splash and leave you with a desperate sense of concern about how you are going to keep your finances afloat while your divorce is pending. There are standing orders for Texas divorces that warn spouses against stooping to levels such as this, but it can take a considerable amount of time to get the matter in front of a judge, and this kind of low blow can take a significant toll on you.
Another way to create financial mayhem is clearing out your joint bank accounts. Learning that you do not have a dime in your checking account can send you into a financial tailspin – especially if your credit card has been canceled and you do not have an income of your own. If your spouse is the primary earner in your household, his or her financial antics can be that much more damaging.
Further, if your spouse is no longer living at home and simply stops covering your household bills, it can leave you at an utter loss regarding how you are going to keep up with the bills and support your children in the meantime. At the same time, it is natural to panic. The best move if you are facing a bleak financial landscape while your divorce goes forward is consulting with your focused divorce attorney about obtaining temporary orders that address your financial situation.
Your Spouse’s Game Plan
If your spouse is throwing financial grenade after financial grenade your way, you are likely in reaction mode – and may not be thinking about anything other than getting through this incredibly difficult experience. The fact is that your spouse likely has a game plan and is not simply doing every terrible thing that pops into his or her mind (although this might be part of it).
Ultimately, your spouse is likely hoping that you will simply give up and accept whatever lowball divorce settlement offer that he or she makes – and you may be tempted to do just that. It is important to remember, however, that your divorce terms will guide your financial future, and turning a blind eye on your financial rights at this juncture is ill-advised. Your divorce attorney has the experience and know-how necessary to help you stay the course until you obtain fair divorce terms that uphold your rights.
Shutting You Out Entirely
One of the simplest – and most cruel – tactics your spouse can engage in is cutting you out entirely. If he or she makes the decision not to speak to you and not to communicate with you electronically, there is little that you can do about it. The problem is, you are going through a divorce, and there are a lot of details to work out, including:
Addressing financial concerns while your divorce is pending, including determining who will be taking care of which bills
Determining how you will divide your parenting time with your children
Determining how you will transport your children where they need to be when they need to be there, including dropping them off with one another
Determining how you will make all the important parenting decisions that arise on a regular basis
This list could go on without end, but if your spouse unceremoniously cuts you out, you will have no recourse other than winging it and communicating via your attorneys, which is almost certain to make your divorce not only more time consuming but also more costly. Another point to make about this kind of childish behavior is that it can become a slippery slope toward putting your children in the middle. Making a conscious effort not to engage in this practice, which can be particularly painful – and even harmful – to your children, is the best course of action.
Finally, continuing to communicate what you need to communicate to your spouse through texts and/or emails provides you with a record of your efforts (for when your divorce does go to court and you need the judge to understand the depths to which your spouse went to turn your divorce into a battlefield). While the vast majority of divorces are not fault-based in the State of Texas, judges do not take kindly to antics that further clog the courts and serve no purpose other than sheer churlishness.
Leaving with the Kids
Your spouse recognizes that the surest way to hurt you is by giving you a fright about your children, and taking the kids out of state without permission is a great way to accomplish this. Again, the court is not impressed with devious practices such as this. In fact, your spouse’s stunt could adversely affect his or her chances of obtaining as much parenting time as he or she is hoping for and could affect his parental responsibilities (the right to make important parenting decisions on behalf of your children) – due to the profound lack of common sense demonstrated by his or her actions.
This, however, does not do you any good at the moment. If you believe that your spouse is simply putting on a show to hurt you, discuss the matter with your compassionate divorce attorney, but if you think there is more to it than that, it is time to call the authorities.
Hitting Social Media Hard
Your divorcing spouse may turn to the age-old practice of spreading nasty rumors about you. This can be achieved by paying visits to key players in your life and with a few well-placed phone calls, but the current favorite tends to be spreading misinformation on social media.
As hard as it is for you to ignore such tactics, taking the high road is almost certain to be in your best interest. To begin, anything you say – or post – is destined to play into your spouse’s hands (and stooping to address gossip can give it wings). The best practice is to trust your friends, family members, loved ones, and employer (if your spouse goes this far) to rise above your divorcing spouse’s antics and not to dignify his or her behavior with responses (or actions). No one says that it is going to be easy, but you owe it to yourself to rise above this one.
If your divorcing spouse takes this to the extreme, he or she may file false abuse charges against you, which pushes things completely off the edge and is a matter for your skilled divorce attorney. This court is adept at seeing through these vengeful practices, but that does not make the journey forward any easier for you.
Engaging in Financial Hijinks
Finally, your spouse may go directly to financial shenanigans – while giving you no reason to believe that he or she is engaging in funny business. That’s right, your divorcing spouse may put on a kind face and seemingly do everything right in relation to achieving a storybook divorce (with minimal drama and bitterness), but if he or she is hiding assets under the radar, it can lead to financial devastation. And you may not recognize that there is an issue until it is too late. Being on top of your finances when it comes to divorce is paramount, and relying on your divorcing spouse’s say on the matter is not the standard of excellence you are going for. Those situations that lend themselves very nicely to financial sleights of hand include:
If your spouse takes care of the finances in your family (or is far more involved than you are)
If your finances are complicated by business ownership and/or by high assets, generally
If your separate and marital assets are hopelessly intertwined
There are plenty of ways to hide assets in a divorce, and any of the following will suffice:
By spending it down (by wining and dining a new love interest, for example – or by simply spending lavishly)
By giving it away (often with a wink and a nod that ensures he or she will be getting it back)
By playing fast and loose with business and/or financial records
If you are concerned that your marital assets are not accurately represented in your divorce, discuss the matter with your divorce attorney asap.