Many divorces don’t come about by mutual consent and so the separation is not cordial. In such cases, one or both spouses may be out to prove a point and they can get malicious and vicious during the divorce process. This is not a good idea, so please don’t play dirty. This article is to help you understand what your soon-to-be ex might do to play dirty, not what you should do. Here is how a spouse can play dirty with the other spouse:
- By indulging in financial trickery
- By hiding or destroying key statements/deeds
- By leaking secrets
- By creating fake online accounts and/or by hacking into the other spouse’s computer
- By leveling false allegations
- By creating a “conflict of interest”
- By badmouthing or embarrassing the other spouse
1. Financial Trickery
Marital property is usually distributed on a 50/50 basis in most states. Spouses who do not want to part with their assets may financially deceive the other spouse by:
Spouses who control the home finances may hide assets or money from the other spouse by depositing marital funds in a newly opened bank account – this may be true in cases where the other spouse is the homemaker and is unaware of how much the deceiving spouse is making or where the marital funds are parked.
Denying Funds To The Other Spouse
Denying access to funds or cutting off the funds flow can force the victimized spouse to settle quickly and cheaply. This situation can occur in marriages in which the victimized spouse is meek or submissive. Canceling a joint credit card and/or delaying a much-needed cash payment to the other spouse are some commonly used ploys to make the other spouse’s life miserable.
The cash crunch can get so dire for the victimized spouse that he/she may jump at the first offer made by the wrongdoer spouse. This scenario can also play out in a marriage in which the wrongdoer spouse is a powerful and solidly networked personality.
In an attempt to lower the alimony to their divorced spouse, some malicious spouses may go to the extent of resigning to prove to the courts that they are jobless and short of money. This can skew the alimony-calculating process followed by the courts.
Playing Around With Business Money
A spouse who owns and operates a business may book fictitious expenses in an attempt to show a loss on the books. He can also buy overvalued fixed assets from his/her friends or relations in an attempt to lower the business’s bank balance. He may get the “overvaluation” sum in cash (off the books), and after the divorce is complete, he/she may sell the assets and pocket the money. Judges are not business owners and therefore they may not know how a business operates. Therefore, the wrongdoer spouse just hopes that the judge overlooks the wrongdoing while dividing the marital property and/or awarding alimony.
Some vengeful spouses may waste money on entertaining themselves or buying some expensive stuff that depreciates rapidly (gadgets, used cars, cable TV plans, heavy furniture, etc.). This pillaging of wealth occurs when both spouses cannot stand each other and/or intensely hate each other.
All these dirty tactics can be seen through by the forensics professionals that experienced divorce attorneys hire to sniff out hidden or wasted assets. Every dirty trick can be discovered by an experienced professional and the wrongdoer spouse can be made to pay the price so long the victimized spouse works with an effective and reputed divorce lawyer. Working with rookies or a general practice law firm can hurt the case.
2. Hiding or Destroying Key Documents
A malicious spouse can hide bank statements, insurance policies, medical records, property deeds, and documents related to ownership of other financial assets/intangibles. The idea is to trouble the other spouse. If the victimized spouse does not possess a copy of all the documents related to such assets, he/she may be forced to run around the offices of the original issuers and may even miss some in the property distribution and/or alimony claims.
3. Leaking Secrets
Spouses often share work-related information. Perhaps, they may complain about their bosses and spill the beans on underhanded business tactics. Then, some spouses may have deep and dark family secrets, which they have shared with the other spouse during the marriage, and so on. What sounds like casual and friendly banter or information sharing during the marriage can turn out to be explosive blackmail material during the divorce process.
The offending spouse can threaten the other spouse about leaking workplace information or family secrets unless the other spouse agrees to his/her terms. Or, at worst, he can leak the secrets and jeopardize the victimized spouse’s personal or work life.
4. Creating Fake Accounts Online And/Or Hacking
A spouse can create a fake email or social media account using the other spouse’s name and send malicious messages to people who matter. The idea is to show the other spouse in a bad light and wreck the property share, parenting time, or alimony that is rightfully due to him/her.
A spouse may also get the other spouse’s computer hacked and download sensitive information relevant to the divorce case – there are plenty of unethical hackers for hire on the dark web.
Such dirty tricks can play havoc with the divorce case, especially if the victimized spouse is not tech-savvy.
5. Leveling False Allegations
A spouse can allege anything and the other spouse can deny it, but the fact is that the allegation has to be proved in the courts. However, some allegations, such as emotional torment of the average kind, may not possibly be backed by evidence. Typically, a spouse makes false allegations in matters related to child custody because he/she wants to prove that the other parent is not fit for custody.
Proving or disproving such allegations takes time and can make the case drag on and add to the cost.
6. Creating A “Conflict Of Interest”
A malignant spouse can file a divorce petition, hide assets, and then create a “conflict of interest” situation by rushing to call up all the experienced and reputed divorce lawyers in town and setting up appointments for a consultation. When the other spouse tries to hire a lawyer, he/she may be informed that the firm may be taking the offending spouse’s case and therefore cannot take the other spouse’s case because of a conflict of interest.
The victim spouse, who also may be in a rush to hire a lawyer because the marital assets have been hidden, may then compromise and settle for a less experienced divorce attorney and pay the price in the courts.
7. Badmouthing or Embarrassing The Other Spouse
A spouse can become a malicious parent and try to alienate the children from the other parent to strengthen his/her custody case and hurt the other parent. Children can be influenced easily and once they start taking sides, it becomes difficult for the other parent to explain and justify his/her point of view to them.
A malicious spouse can also embarrass the other spouse by serving the divorce papers at a sensitive time (when the other spouse is with family or in a business meeting). He/she can also badmouth the other spouse in social circles and publicly humiliate her/him.
Each of these dirty tricks can be seen through by an experienced divorce attorney, the assets can be traced during the discovery process, and the malicious spouse can be made to pay a heavy price (under civil and criminal law).
If you suspect your spouse of playing dirty tricks, we urge you not to react negatively, accept the first offer that comes your way, or try to reason with him/her – instead, hire an experienced and effective attorney who will help you get the monetary and non-monetary justice that you rightly deserve.