Over the past 34 years, I have seen a lot of family law litigants say and do things which are against their own best interests. While divorce is an emotional time, and people understandable say things they do not really mean, there are some things that you really should NEVER say. For instance:
1. "If you get the kids, I will take them and you will never see them again."
Only say this if you really want to hand in your passport to the Court,
and only see your children in a supervised setting. Assuring the judge
that you did not really mean it will not help, as they tend to err on
the side of caution and safety, especially where children are concerned.
A corollary to this is when the custodial parent says:
2. "I'll take the kids and move to.........."
Divorces are expensive enough without adding a child custody dispute to
it all, which is what will happen if your future Ex
truly believes you. Note that in both of these instances, the parent is
trying to use the child or children as a pawn against the other, which
is the last thing you should be doing if you truly love your children.
Stand back and take a deep breath: this isn't just about you.
3. "I'll file for bankruptcy so you won't get anything."
In an equitable distribution state like Massachusetts, the Court's
starting point in dividing property is to split assets equally in a
long-term marriage, and give them what they started with in a short-term
marriage, dividing after-acquired property 50/50 (retirement plans
have their own rules). Do not give the judge an excuse to give the other
side more, or to put attachments on your assets.
4. Any statement that starts with "You/I will never..." or "You/I will always..."
Eventually, you are going to decide that you want to put your own kids
through college, not your attorney's kids. Psychologically, backing
yourself into a verbal corner makes it that much harder for you later to
compromise and reach agreement with your Ex. 98% of all divorces should
eventually settle, and the longer it takes you to get there, the more
you will pay your attorney.
5. "If I have to pay alimony/child support, I'll quit working."
Support orders are based on earning capacity, not actual current
income. A former spouse or parent who deliberately makes himself or
herself unemployed or underemployed will still be held liable for the
full amount of support previously ordered. And this is the type of
statement that can come back to haunt you if you actually do get laid
off, and need to ask the Court to modify your support order.
6. ANY STATEMENT WHICH IMPLIES A THREAT OF VIOLENCE OR OTHER PHYSICAL HARM.
Do not joke about it, do not post it on Twitter of Facebook, and never
say anything even remotely like that in front of your kids. You will not
enjoy living with the Restraining Order.