All is not in fact fair in love and war, and divorce involves the end of the former and all too often the beginning of the latter. The end of a marriage can bring out the worst in people who feel angry, betrayed, or victimized by their spouse. While divorce is rarely pleasant and sometimes quite contentious, some spouses engage in conduct that is vindictive, cruel, improper, and sometimes illegal during their divorce.
Even the best of us can succumb to our emotions when we are going through a difficult time. But letting your feelings cloud your judgment or guide your actions during a divorce is almost always a bad call that will backfire and make things worse. Your spouse may not see things that way, however, and engage in underhanded tricks designed to make your life harder or gain an advantage in your divorce proceedings.
Here are four common divorce tricks that unscrupulous spouses often engage in:
1. Concealing assets
In a Colorado divorce proceeding, both spouses are required to make full and complete disclosures of their assets and liabilities under oath. However, those disclosures could be false, incomplete, or not reflective of the spouse’s true financial situation if he or she is attempting to hide and conceal marital property from the other spouse. The numerous tricks involved in concealing assets are an effort to fool the court into reducing support or maintenance awards or deprive the other spouse of property and assets to which he or she would otherwise be entitled. A skilled and aggressive divorce attorney should be able expose such financial shenanigans.
2. Using children as leverage
Most divorcing parents do a good job of minimizing the trauma to their children and shielding them from hostility and arguments. But when a desire to get leverage or hurt the other parent becomes the dominant motivation for a spouse, they can consciously or unconsciously try to use the kids as leverage. This can involve badmouthing the other parent in an attempt to turn the child against them, intentionally disrupting agreed-upon parenting time schedules, or otherwise interfering with the other parent’s rights.
3. Financial starvation
Divorce creates many practical and financial challenges which one spouse may try to use to their advantage. Failing to pay bills, draining bank accounts, running up credit card debt on cards for which the other spouse is on the hook, or cancelling vital services or utilities are just a few ways a spouse can make life miserable for their soon-to-be-ex. They may do this simply to be cruel or with the hope that the financial desperation they create will lead the other spouse to agree to less than favorable divorce terms.
4. False child abuse or domestic violence claims
It is shockingly common for a spouse to make false claims of domestic violence or child abuse in order to get a spouse arrested, or to gain an advantage in custody and visitation matters. In fact, one report found that:
- About one-fourth of divorces in the U.S. involve an allegation of intimate partner violence.
- In about 70% of those cases, the allegation is deemed to be unnecessary or false.
- Each year, about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with a false allegation of domestic violence.
While divorce can get ugly, it doesn’t need to be cruel or vindictive, nor does it need to turn children into pawns in a grown-up game. But when one spouse fails to play by the rules, you will want to have a strong and skilled divorce lawyer in your corner to protect you from such conduct.