By Jennifer M. Paine
If you are reading articles at DadsDivorce, chances are that you are seeking and, perhaps, have already sought out tips to help you during your divorce. That’s great. Here, you will find articles on specific areas of law, question-and-answers, videos, blogs and all topics of domestic relations law covered in great detail.
However, like most men, you are probably also doing three seemingly innocent things that could destroy your case. Read about these three things below, and learn how to avoid making these common mistakes.
Talking to your children – In general, you should not talk to your children about your divorce.
This rule applies whether your children are adults or minors. They should not be involved in your marital discord. Young children usually become confused, act out, regress socially and emotionally and repeat to each parent what the other said in their own terms. This can make for an easy claim of coaching, even over the most innocent of questions, to the judge.
Once your judge suspects you of coaching, it is hard to restore your credibility as there is always that looming doubt of using children against the other parent. Adult children will become aligned with one of you, or ignore both of you, which will disrupt long-term relationships. Such damaged relationships can even trickle down to grand children, cousins and more.
If you fear your spouse is talking to your children, ask her to stop. If she will not stop, ask the judge to order her to do so. You can also ask the judge to refer your family to counseling where a mental health professional can help your children, as well as both you and your soon-to-be-ex, talk through the process of divorce.
Telling your friends about your divorce – This does not refer to your new friends since separating from your wife. However, you should not discuss the divorce with the mutual friends you shared with your spouse. These could be the folks you celebrated holidays with or went out with for dinners or events.
Such friends often try to be peacemakers at a time when you do not want to reconcile, or they can become stand-offish rather than align with either of you.
If they feel that you are the unreasonable one, they will tell your spouse. If you go off one night in a rant about your spouse, what you say can (and probably would) be used against you in court.
This is because your statements are admissions, not hearsay, and can be introduced against you at a hearing or a trial. Rather than vent to these mutual friends, consider speaking with your own counselor who has a duty of confidentiality to you and cannot testify against you no matter how much you need to rant.
Monitoring your soon-to-be ex – You might want to know where your wife is going on her days off, whether she is seeing someone else, where she is living and whether your kids are with her. But beware!
If she claims she feels afraid of you, then the judge can, and usually will, issue a PPO or a restraining order against you. This can happen even if you are in public spaces, so long as you had no other reason to be there.
The standard for issuing these orders between spouses and divorcing spouses is extremely low in most states, and when they are issued, they usually preclude you from carrying a firearm, having contact with your wife, being at certain locations and more.
If you have valid concerns about what your wife is doing, then talk with your attorney. You two can consider whether a private investigator, who is exempt from those PPO and restraining orders applicable to you, is appropriate.
Otherwise, what you thought were perfectly legitimate things to do during your divorce might just destroy your case.
Jennifer M. Paine is a Michigan Divorce Lawyer with Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in Michigan, and has been admitted pro hac vice in Illinois, Ohio, and the United States Court of Federal Claims.
Ms. Paine received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Mathematics from Albion College and graduated Summa Cum Laude. She received her Juris Doctorate from MSU College of Law and graduated Summa Cum Laude.