Ask Jennifer: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
Five surefire ways to lose in your divorce.
Every month I get emails with questions about the “do’s and don’ts” in xyz family law situations. This month instead of telling you what you SHOULD do I’m going to give you some tips on some things to never do in your divorce or custody cases:
1. Lie: Lies always have a way of coming to the surface. Don’t lie! Period. If you present lies to the opposing side, you’ll most likely get exposed and the judge won’t be kind. If you lie to your own attorney (or omit things they should know) you are setting them (and you) up to fail. Your attorney will either be caught in your lie by the other side or get caught with their pants down at court when something you didn’t reveal, that they could have prepared for, comes up. Even if the truth is messy, it’s better to be upfront than lose a case because a judge doesn’t believe a word you say.
2. Ignore a judge’s order: There are times, especially in custody cases, where a judge will issue a temporary order that is to remain in place until your final judgment is issued. It is never wise to ignore or disobey these orders. If a temporary order is issued, try to keep in mind that temporary orders can change. Disobeying orders not only gives the judge the right to hold you in contempt of court, it is also disrespectful to the Judge. A judge that feels disrespected is going to feel much less inclined to do you any favors come time for the final judgment. It’s simple human nature.
3. Withhold information or use stall tactics: Both sides in a family law case are allowed to obtain extensive information about each other through the discovery process. This means that when the other side is requesting information, you are obligated to provide that information unless your lawyer has given you a legal reason not to do so. What this means, for example, is that your financials are going to come out sooner or later and you are not immune to being tested due to your drug habit. Withholding information or intentionally stalling in giving information could get you in serious trouble with the Judge, especially if the other side decides to push the matter.
4. Toxic social media: Now isn’t the time to go on a rampage about your ex on Facebook, post pictures of your new partner (while you’re still getting divorced), or show pictures of your epic keg stand at Florabama. Social media postings like this are ammo for the opposing side to use against you. This is the time, as the British say, to keep calm and carry on.
5. Represent yourself: This should go without saying, but representing yourself in a divorce or custody case is never a wise decision. Lawyers spend years training to deal with legal matters. You might be great at arguing with your friends, but this does not make you a match for someone who is taught to argue for years and knows the ins and outs of the legal system. It’s true that any good attorney is not going to be cheap; however, by representing yourself, you could end up losing a lot more than you save.
Attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, Jennifer Rose, answers readers’ questions about family and matrimonial law.
Jennifer G. Rose is the founder and lead attorney at The Rose Law Firm LLC. One of only a handful of certified family law specialists in the state, Jennifer and her firm have won dozens of awards for their work in the field. Those wishing to reach her may call 205-323-1124, 24 hours a day or visit rosefamilylaw.com. Her firm gives complimentary initial consultations in person.
Have a family law question you’d like to have answered?
Send an email to askjennifer@theroselawfirmllc.
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