Watch Out For – And Avoid – These Underhanded Divorce Tricks
The hurricane of emotions involved in a divorce – anger and resentment, sadness and loss – rarely brings out the best in the people. These emotions can cause even the most level-headed, rational, and kind individuals to act in wildly uncharacteristic ways. For those who are inclined to let negative emotions take control or who, they may see their divorce as an all-out war with their spouse where all is fair – even when it clearly isn’t. All of this can cause divorcing spouses to say and do things which are unethical, underhanded, or designed to inflict financial, emotional, or practical pain on the other.
Sadly, divorce offers plenty of opportunities for engaging in such dubious conduct. Georgia law and court rules are designed to ensure honesty, full disclosure, and fairness during the process, but a spouse determined to get the upper hand or hurt their former partner won’t see those laws or rules as much of an obstacle.
If you are going through a divorce, you may find yourself on the receiving end of any number of improper and illegal divorce tricks; in your darker moments, you may even be tempted to engage in them yourself. Regardless of the motivation, divorcing spouses should avoid bad divorce behaviors, and a good divorce lawyer will be able to identify, confront, and address any such conduct by your spouse.
Here are five frequent tricks a divorcing spouse may try to game the system and hurt their soon-to-be-former spouse:
Even though Georgia law requires divorcing couples to make full, complete, and sworn disclosures to each other about their respective assets and liabilities, there are many ways to manipulate those disclosures by hiding assets or engaging in “creative” accounting practices. Such efforts are usually undertaken to make it seem like the spouse has less money and thus less to provide for child support and fewer marital assets to equitably divide with their spouse.
When successful, these attempts to deceive the other spouse – and the court – can result in financial arrangements that are wildly unfair, as they are premised on a false picture of the couple’s finances. Making matters worse, the more complex a couple’s finances are, the easier it can be to fudge the numbers or discreetly transfer or hide assets. That is why divorce attorneys who suspect foul play often retain forensic accountants and other financial experts to expose any fraudulent conduct.
Weaponizing the Kids
Most parents do a pretty good job focusing on their child’s well-being during the divorce process; shielding them from the ugly details and arguments that should remain between the grown-ups.
But a parent’s love and strong bond with their child can be ripe for manipulation. If one parent is more interested in hurting the other parent than caring for their child, they may be inclined, intentionally or in the heat of emotion, to try to weaponize their kids. A parent can continually make negative, hurtful, or false comments about the other parent, hoping to drive a wedge between them. He or she may disrupt visitation schedules, yell at the other parent in front of the kids, or make unfounded allegations about the other parent’s that call into question their parental fitness. These are just a few of the ways a divorcing parent can poison the parent-child relationship and weaponize their children during a divorce.
Cutting Off Financial Resources
The financial and logistical challenges of divorce present several opportunities for one spouse to make day-to-day life difficult for the other. A vindictive spouse may “forget” to pay bills, cut off credit cards or run up huge balances, empty bank accounts, or terminate a cell-phone contract or other necessary services.
Voluntary Unemployment or Underemployment
Georgia courts consider several factors when calculating the amount of child support a parent will have to pay, including each parent’s respective financial resource. These “financial resources” include their income, such as salaries, wages, tips, commissions, bonuses, and payments received as an independent contractor.
Sometimes, in an effort to reduce their child support obligations, a parent may make career decisions designed to substantially reduce their income, such as quitting a job or taking a job that pays significantly less than they could otherwise earn with their training, background, education or experience.
A Georgia judge can evaluate “any intentional choice or act that affects a parent’s income” in order to determine “whether there is a substantial likelihood that the parent could, with reasonable effort, apply his or her education, skills, or training to produce income.” If the court finds that the parent is intentionally underemployed or unemployed, it can impute potential income on that parent and base the child support amounts on that income.
False Allegations of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a serious problem, and police, prosecutors, and Georgia law treat allegations of abuse and violence against a spouse with equal seriousness. Though domestic violence is a very real and all too frequent occurrence, the unfortunate reality is that it is not uncommon for a spouse to make up or exaggerate such claims in an effort to hurt the other spouse or gain an advantage on custody, support, or visitation issues.
In fact, according to one report:
- About one-quarter of all divorces in the U.S. involve an allegation of spousal violence.
- In about 70% of those cases, the allegation is found to be unnecessary or false.
- Each year, about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with unfounded allegations of domestic violence.
Call the Woodstock Divorce Lawyers at North Metro Litigators Today
The Woodstock divorce attorneys family at North Metro Litigators know the tricks unscrupulous spouses use to unfairly skew the divorce process, and we know how to expose such conduct and hold them accountable.
We provide effective, comprehensive, and compassionate divorce representation at a reasonable cost. Call us today at (678)-888-0198 or contact us to arrange for your free initial consultation.