We have written numerous blogs discussing some of the things people should or should not do during a divorce. However, it's not just about what people do while getting divorced that affects the outcome; what they say can have an impact as well.
Below are some examples of things you probably don't want to say to your ex, the courts or your children during an Arizona divorce.
To your soon-to-be ex
If you talk to your spouse during a divorce, whether it is in person, over email or through texts, you may want to think twice before making the following types of statements.
- Promises regarding legal decision-making, parenting time, spousal support, or property division that you can't or don't intend to fulfill
- Anything that could be taken out of context or used against you in court or negotiations
- Statements that make it seem like you cannot or will not cooperate with the other parent if you share custody of your children
To a judge or in a legal document
Whether you are standing in a courtroom or discussing matters in mediation, it is crucial that you not say certain things in a legal setting. This includes:
- False allegations (or dishonest denials) of family violence, child neglect, substance abuse, mental illness, or abandonment
- Untrue or misleading details about your finances
- Statements that make you seem volatile, untrustworthy, or unreliable as a parent
- Irrational or unreasonable litigation demands
To your children
A recent article from Fatherly has some tips for what you shouldn't say to your kids during a divorce. Some of these include:
- Hurtful things about the other parent
- Statements that make them feel guilty when they are with the other parent
- Specific details about the divorce, like cost or settlement conditions
- Any statement that places blame on them for the divorce
Not only can these types of statements compromise the divorce process, they can have a far-reaching impact on others. They may also anger the judge enough that your decision to work over the kids costs you parental rights you otherwise might have been granted. Leave the children out of it!
There is another reason why you should exercise caution in your communications with your former partner. Email and text messaging are notorious for goading people into rash, angry, or thoughtless comments. Yet fairly recent Arizona case law suggests even an exchange of simple emails may create a binding agreement that you cannot avoid later. Many people toss out half-baked comments over their smartphones that perhaps they did not intend to be interpreted as acceptance of an agreement, but that a judge might look at differently. So before you starting jumping into text or email conversations and "agreeing" to ideas (especially if your goal is simply to get the other parent off your back for the evening, and not because you really meant to make a deal), think carefully about what you are saying. Ask yourself: "if a neutral professional read what I just wrote, is there a chance she would think I accepted a partial or full settlement?" If the answer is "yes," don't send the message - unless that's what you really want!