Cordell & Cordell hosted its latest virtual town hall on Thursday, Sept. 17, covering the most common dirty tricks that are often used during divorce.
Cordell & Cordell CEO/Managing Partner Scott Trout hosted a panel of divorce attorneys from across the United States to review some of the tactics they’ve seen opposing parties utilize.
“I tell clients I think I’ve seen it all, and then all of a sudden something else comes in,” Mr. Trout said.
Allegations of Child Abuse/Neglect and Drug/Alcohol Abuse
One of the most prevalent tricks is to bring up unfounded abuse allegations during a child custody case. Sacramento divorce attorney Jason P. Hopper says roughly half to two-thirds of the potential clients he meets with are facing some form of an abuse allegation.
“It’s something that we see a lot of,” Mr. Hopper said. “It’s a very stigmatizing type of accusation where even if it is baseless and is ultimately dismissed, the fact that it is raised can really color the judge’s opinion of the case and it something we want to be proactive with in defending against.”
Limiting Custody & Contact
One of the most damaging tricks someone can pull during a divorce is limiting the access the other parent has with their children to gain an advantage in a custody case.
If there are allegations of abuse or neglect, it can be easy to gain a protective order that denies access to the children even if the allegations are completely fabricated. Once in place, those orders can essentially establish a status quo regarding custody that can be tough to undo.
“Judges don’t like to take risks,” Mr. Trout said, “and when you’ve got a status quo … judges don’t want to deviate. If a child is doing well over those eight, nine, 10 months, what do you think they are going to do? They’re going to take the easy road and say, ‘Well, the amount of time he has under this order seems sufficient.’”
Another common trick is to come up with ways to hide income during the divorce process. A spouse might quite her job just before filing so that she has no income to show and can argue for spousal support.
Albany divorce Asa Neff discussed a case where his client’s wife was a nurse practitioner for 10 years before quitting and eventually asking for divorce. Since she had no income, she argued she needed alimony to support herself.
“All I would say is attorneys have a lot of things we can do to make sure courts aren’t going to use zero as anybody’s income,” Mr. Neff said. “In that case, she was a licensed nurse and we were able to hire a vocational expert as to her earning capacity.”
Racking Up Credit Card Debt
Dublin divorce attorney Melinda Johnson discussed how temporary restraining orders can be used to prevent another common trick: racking up credit card debt.
“These mutual restraining orders that are standard have some very specific language that prohibit either spouse from taking on a certain action such as increasing credit card debt of the other spouse,” Ms. Johnson said.
It is clear there are many tricks that can be used during the divorce process, and if you do not have a knowledgeable attorney in your corner to help protect your rights you could end up being taken advantage of. Cordell & Cordell’s divorce attorneys pride themselves on looking out for the best interests of men and fathers. If you are facing a divorce or child custody case, get in touch with Cordell & Cordell for a consultation.