Women in Divorce: Don’t Make These Five Costly Mistakes
Taken individually, any one of these mistakes might derail the efforts of even the most skilled divorce team. Combine a few of them, and you could substantially reduce your chances of a successful divorce settlement.
Please note that most of these have legal implications and the laws vary from state to state, so please consult with your divorce attorney as soon as possible.
Every type of electronic communication leaves a digital trail. That means your Tweets, your emails, your text messages and every other type of electronic transmission could possibly end up being painstakingly scrutinized by your husband’s divorce team in hopes of bolstering his case.
A resounding 92 percent of the nation’s top divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence taken from iPhones, Droids and other smart phones during the past three years, according to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). In addition, nearly all (94 percent) of the respondents cited an overall rise in the use of text messages as evidence during the same time period.
In other research, the AAML also found that social media sites now play a prominent role in many divorce cases.
Overall, 81 percent of AAML members cited an increase in the use of evidence from social networking websites during the past five years, and nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of the respondents reported Facebook as the primary source of this type of evidence. MMySpace followed with 15 percent, Twitter at 5 percent and other choices listed at 14 percent.
What role do social media sites play in the courtroom? Status updates, online photo albums, profile pages, comments and other activity can be used as evidence to contradict statements you’ve previously made and to help prove infidelity, mishandling of assets, emotional instability, alcohol/drug use, etc.
Divorce proceedings can be protracted and grueling, but don’t make the mistake of turning to a boyfriend to help you cope. Depending on the state in which you are divorcing, dating before your divorce is finalized could jeopardize your case. In fact, in many states it can legally be considered adultery. Even joining an online dating website can raise red flags, since electronic communication is now commonly used as evidence in divorce cases.
If you feel you absolutely must date while you are in the process of divorcing, please consult with your attorney as soon as possible and carefully consider the consequences.
Sometimes it’s hard to resist the urge to snoop into your husband’s affairs –especially if you have reason to suspect he’s up to no good. But beware: A Michigan man faced felony charges in 2010 after he accessed his wife’s Gmail account to learn about her extra-marital affair.
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Laws vary from state to state, but most prohibit the intentional interception of wire, electronic or oral communication (aka, “wiretapping”). Privacy law experts continue to debate how these laws apply now that digital communication dominates our lives, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Again, consult with your divorce attorney to better understand what laws apply where you live.
Of course, “snooping” can get very sophisticated these days, as hi-tech spying software is becoming surprisingly common. In certain instances, the law is unambiguous. For example, it’s clearly illegal to install spyware on a computer owned by someone else. But in other instances, the law is more opaque. Installing spyware on a computer jointly owned by two people can lead you into murky legal territory and can even raise questions about whether the computer under consideration is separate or marital property. Be sure you understand both the federal and state laws that apply. Even if you don’t intend to snoop, it makes sense to learn about your rights and what is and isn’t allowed in your state. You need to stay vigilant. Your husband could be illegally snooping on you.
Many people view shopping as a form of feel-good therapy, but if you’re going through a divorce (or even contemplating one), resist the urge to determine how well this “remedy” works. Now is not the time to increase your debt or to “get back” at your spouse by spending (dissipating) marital assets.
Once your divorce is final and you have established a financial plan so you know how much money you can safely spend, you can shop to your heart’s content (provided you stay within your budget). But until then, proceed with caution. Remember this is the time when you need to Think Financially, Not Emotionally®.
Jeffrey A. Landers, CDFA™ is a Divorce Financial Strategist™ and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC, a firm which exclusively advises affluent women throughout the United States before, during and after divorce. He assists women and their divorce attorneys with deciding on the most advantageous way to divide marital assets and enable them to negotiate more favorable settlements, especially when there are complicated financial and tax issues. He also writes for Forbes.com and the Huffington Post.
For further information, please go to: http://www.BedrockDivorce.com or email Jeff at: Landers@BedrockDivorce.com.