No matter how amicable a divorce might be, the process itself is challenging. One thing you can do to make it a little easier on yourself is to make sure you protect your legal rights during divorce, which means that you need to follow state divorce laws that are in place. Because these laws will differ from state to state, you'll need to research your state divorce laws ahead of time so you know exactly what's allowed and what isn't, but to help get you started, we compiled a list of the six things you should never do during a divorce to help you protect your legal rights.
Read on for six things to avoid during the divorce process.
Never Damage Property
No one should conceal, destroy, damage, transfer, or otherwise dispose of property owned by either or both of the spouses, without the other spouse's consent. "If one spouse is found by the court to have engaged in dissipation of assets, it will affect the property settlement," writes The Stogsdill Law Firm. "If one side has devalued the marital estate by dissipation, he or she will usually find the value of the property he or she wasted deducted from his or her property award."
Don't Move With Children
No matter how ugly the divorce might be getting, never move minor children outside the jurisdiction of the court. In some states, they can be moved up to 150 miles away, but they still have to stay within the state. Once a divorce has been filed, the state the divorce was filed in becomes your children's "home state" and it, therefore, has jurisdiction over where the children live. Moving with your children without the court's permission is a way to lose custody of your children.
Never Hide Children
Never hide minor children from each other or from your spouse. If your children live with you, you need to make them available for your spouse to visit during the divorce process. The courts frown on parental alienation, so this is another way of possibly losing custody of your children. In many cases, "the parent who attempted to take them away loses part or all of their legal custody of the children," writes the Law Offices of William L. Geary Co.
Don't Spend Your Spouse's Money
Avoid using credit accounts that are in your spouse's name alone. Issues such as finances and who pays for what can be protected by petitioning the court for temporary orders. If you have joint credit accounts and are concerned about your spouse running up debt, you'll have to get special protection from the courts.
Dividing debt is a major part of the divorce process. You don't want to take an action that is going to make this process more complicated—and you certainly don't want to take any action that will mean you having more debt to pay once the divorce is final. Just because you use a credit card that is in your spouse's name alone doesn't mean the courts won't hold you responsible for the debt.
Avoid Harassing Your Spouse
If your spouse has become violent, you can seek a restraining order. If you're in a violent situation, it's best to put yourself in a position of getting the help you need quickly. Never fail to protect yourself.
On the flip side, if you're angry and your emotions are out of control, you can set yourself up for trouble in court if you threaten harm to your spouse (or anyone else for that matter).
In addition to how you act in person or over the phone, never send harassing emails or texts. Written evidence can easily be used against you in court.
Never Disobey Court Orders
A temporary court order can give added protection from a spouse who might try and cross the boundaries where your legal rights are concerned. If you have a temporary court order in place pertaining to child custody, visitation, the division of debt, and so on, make sure to follow the orders. You'll only generate more conflict and make the process harder on yourself by disobeying them.