Divorce Advice for Men: 8 Common Mistakes That Destroy Leverage
Men can face very specific repercussions during and after a divorce. Life as they know it could be over, but they can at least minimize the damage they do to their lifestyle, their assets, and their children’s lives.
1.Fighting Over Personal Property
In a divorce, people will fight over everything, including the kitchen sink. In fact, some spouses will hire evaluators in an attempt to set a value for personal property so they know what’s worth taking.
Outside of a few exceptional pieces of property (think the famous painting, the diamond ring purchased during marriage, or the Rolex,) personal possessions don’t have sufficient fair market value to fight over during a divorce.
It’s best to attach emotional value to certain items that may exceed fair market value.
In all actuality, some items may not even have a definitive value. For example, a couch purchased for $2,000 in 2013 may be almost unsellable on craigslist in 2016. Yet, the fees associated with using multiple attorneys to negotiate and argue over the marital property with negative resale value can quickly be more than the value of the property. It’s best to attach emotional value to certain items that may exceed fair market value.
For example, what if the wife is infatuated with the antique, run-of-the-mill table in the dining room? Well, the husband should be willing to exchange that piece of property in settlement negotiations, preferably for something that has emotional or monetary value to him. Fight for the possessions you feel are necessary, but the courts will divide the biggest and most troublesome assets during the divorce proceedings.
2. Using Children As Leverage During The Divorce
Moral and ethical issues aside, using your children as leverage in your divorce will hurt you in front of the judge. From a legal perspective, the Florida court system is interested in awarding majority timesharing to the parent who nurtures and facilitates a positive relationship between the child and the other parent. When determining who should receive custody of the child, a judge is required to determine what’s best for the child—not for the two parents.
Using children as pawns to further your financial or emotional goals, such as harming your former spouse’s feelings, will invoke the fury of the presiding judge. This can have a direct impact on the timesharing and child custody arrangements, and this sort of behavior can give your wife even more leverage during property and financial negotiations.
Above all else, judges are human. If you’re pushy and rude in court, the judge may give you a worse deal than you would get if you acted like a gentleman. What you can do, instead, is attend parenting classes and try to come up with a good parenting plan that you can during the negotiation.
3. Being Indecisive
When you married your spouse, you said, “I do” and thought it would last forever. For years, your marriage has been a substantial part of your identity. Now, your wife wants to divorce. Unfortunately, many men handle the shock of the divorce by being indecisive and end up putting their head in the sand.
These men don’t hire an attorney, potentially failing to answer the court pleadings from their wife. Sometimes they don’t even participate in the discovery portion of the case that’s mandatory for divorce cases in Florida. Failing to act can have devastating consequences on men during the divorce proceedings. While you may choose to ignore the divorce process, your wife and her attorney are building a case against you.
This can lead to your wife:
- Cleaning out your bank accounts.
- Liquidating her accounts that you would otherwise be entitled to a portion of.
- Taking your children to another city or state and establishing residency in a foreign place.
- Getting an attorney to ask the court to hold you in contempt of court for not participating in the divorce lawsuit.
- Getting a default judgment against you, meaning she gets everything in the divorce that she wants.
Even if you did not choose the path of divorce, you must react quickly to preserve your rights.
4. Promoting The “Sociopath” Myth
More often than not, the relationship between you and your spouse has dissolved after many months or years of fighting prior to the divorce. In most cases, the man concludes that the woman is being irrational. And, in most cases, the woman concludes her husband is an unemotional sociopath.
While the chances are slim you are a diagnosed sociopath, it only matters what your wife thinks you are. Taking actions that will help reduce your wife’s emotional triggers pending dissolution will help you both co-parent better and ideally reach a quicker divorce settlement.
To do this, you should reduce or eliminate controlling or off-putting emails. Better yet, attempt to make communications (especially written and other recordable communications like email) objective and focused on the children or financial concerns at hand. Doing so will eliminate the possibility of the judge seeing written evidence that reinforces your wife’s case.
More importantly, playing nice will help to disarm any emotional responses from your wife, hopefully getting her to a place where she can reasonably negotiate your case.
5. Failing To Provide “Family Support”
If you are the breadwinner in your marriage, the financial responsibility to your family doesn’t end after filing for divorce. Whether it’s financial support for children, helping to pay for the marital home and utilities, or maintaining insurance coverage on the wife’s vehicle, bills need to be paid before a divorce is final.
There is no formula for deciding how much support a spouse will need during a pending divorce. However, at a minimum, your divorce attorney will calculate an approximate child support amount based on Florida statutes and discuss it with you. Cutting off support to your wife will most often lead to her filing an expedited motion for temporary relief.
These hearings can be costly for you, and unnecessary if you can prove that you’re providing a reasonable amount of family support.
6. Purchasing Excessive Assets Pending The Divorce Litigation
This is common sense, but it’s important — don’t purchase anything excessive while your divorce is pending. The rationale is threefold:
You are potentially dissipating marital funds.
Most courts in Florida, including Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas, place standing orders on both spouses, which are designed to restrict the parties from spending marital funds on things other than reasonable and ordinary expenses. If you arguably violate a standing order, the opposing party can ask the judge to hold you in contempt of court and seek divorce attorney fees related to the filing of the motion.
You will cause an unneeded emotional response.
If the wife is making an alimony request and the issue is contested, purchasing big ticket items will only lead to an emotional response from the other side. If your goal is to work out some or all of your divorce issues by resolution (instead of trial in front of the Judge), then you want to increase the chances of your wife acting reasonably in the negotiating room. Minimizing emotional triggers increases your odds of this happening.
You might make the impression that your net income is higher than it is in reality.
If your wife is requesting you pay her alimony, she is really saying she needs additional support and you have the ability to pay her that support. Many cases are contested on based on whether the husband, after paying his reasonable expenses, has the additional monies to provide support. Purchasing extravagant assets will raise eyebrows, as it implies that the man’s financial position is better than what he portrays in the divorce court.
7. “Hiding” Assets
The public policy of the state of Florida declares that both parties should be transparent in their finances. Florida requires the parties turn over certain financial documents to each other, and allows each party to request from the other much more.
If one party wants to find the assets of another party, and if they are traceable from a current account in the US, then they likely will. Attempting to hide assets will likely result in substantial and needless litigation. If the litigation was caused by the bad conduct of the husband, then he may be on the hook for both his fees and his wife’s attorneys’ fees.
8. Removing Your Wife From The Health/Car Insurance
Most counties in Tampa, Clearwater, and St. Petersburg also include a standing rule that neither party can completely terminate any insurance policies. Most common, this includes health, life, and car insurance. Yet, husbands routinely will remove the wife from the health insurance policy during the beginning months of litigation, presumably to save money.
Unfortunately, the wife will inform her attorney, who will then seek either reinstatement of the insurance or go directly to the court to seek sanctions. The litigation involved with the termination of life insurance can cost thousands of dollars, all while making the husband look like a jerk to the trial judge.
Regardless of open enrollment, a divorce is a substantial change in circumstances that allows the spouse to be removed from the insurance. It’s wisest to wait until the divorce is final before terminating insurance policies.
Don’t Do It, Man.
Divorce, as everybody knows, is a difficult time. But, there is life after divorce. With proper divorce support from your family and legal counsel, you can cope with divorce much quicker. If you’re working by yourself, you’re bound to make mistakes in your divorce case. To remove the possibility of making mistakes, you should visit our law firm to consult a divorce lawyer and determine your options. Don’t hesitate or your wife can take your house, your children, and your bank accounts.