Georgia Divorce: What Should I Not Do?
There are a list of behaviors and things that are recognized by the court to likely cause conflict during contested Georgia divorce cases. Our Georgia divorce attorneys, when involved with your case will be able to quickly identify if you are engaging in behaviors or actions that may incite conflict.
If you do engage in behavior that may negatively impact the outcome of your divorce case and work against your objectives, we will try to let you know and minimize the impact on your case. While emotion may cloud your judgment, you should be careful and patient and do nothing that you may later regret or may reflect negatively on your reputation with the court.
The following is a list of common actions that should always be avoided during a divorce:
Do not date during the divorce proceeding
A new romantic partner may add to conflict during the litigation, add on additional attorney’s fees due to involvement in the case, impact terms of custody or visitation, and or the divorce proceeding could negatively impact your relationship with prospective individuals. Georgia courts recognize that this may cause unnecessary conflict in a divorce case. In addition, nothing good can come from it. Possible negative outcomes include, but are not limited to:
- a negative affect on whether you have to pay or will receive alimony
- a negative affect on the amount of alimony you may have to pay or receive
- a negative affect regarding your custody or visitation with the children
- a negative affect on the equitable division of marital assets
- a negative affect on the equitable division of marital debts
Do not spend money on girlfriend or boyfriend
Spending money on non-family matters during a family law case can cause a lot of problems in a Georgia divorce case. This is especially true if the money spent is from marital funds. Also, spending money you cannot afford can also lead to allegations of contempt, resulting in a lack of funds to use to obtain legal services and hire an attorney.
Do not take an opposite sex roommate
As innocent as you may try to make it sound, it is very common for the other party and their attorney to make what may be a platonic friendship or roommate situation sound like a hot and heavy live-in-lover affair to the court. This can be very detrimental to a case, especially one involving minor children and alimony.
Do not give property or gifts to a girlfriend or boyfriend
Giving items to a new romantic partner during a court hearing may violate the Standing Order in you case, and will look like a revenge tactic to be spiteful to your spouse. Georgia divorce courts heavily dislike this type of behavior and could consider punitive measures to correct any wrongs resulting on such behavior.
Do not put anything in writing you don’t want as evidence
Anything you write during a divorce proceeding can be used against you in court as evidence. All forms of written text are admissible such as text messages, emails, and social media posts. It is not uncommon for parties to make promises, accept settlement terms and make other statements by text message or email that they later regret when used in court against them.
Do not say anything you don’t want as evidence
Anything you say can be used against you in court especially if there is some type of hard proof of what was said such as a recording or voicemail. The State of Georgia is a “one party consent” for tape recording conversations, which means only one of the parties to the conversation have to know about the recording being made for it to be legal. Therefore, it is important to be aware that you may be tape recorded at any time you are discussing things with your spouse and that these recordings, may be used as evidence in your divorce case.
Do not threaten to do anything that may harm the other party
This could be as small as threatening to quit your job to harm the other party financially or could be as serious as threatening to turn the other party into a state agency (police, DCFS, IRS, etc.) based on false allegations. Any action like this for revenge will appear to be malicious to court professionals involved and will reflect negatively upon your character, and will likely have a negative affect on your Georgia divorce case.
Do not cancel anything that the spouse currently utilizes under joint account
This could be as basic as a phone line or could concern health insurance programs or life insurance. If the spouse is dissolved from these accounts during a legal proceeding the judge will see the termination as malicious and doing such actions may violate a Standing Order if one is present. Standing Orders are court orders that automatically apply to all divorce and domestic relations cases that are filed in Georgia. Each county can also have specific rules that apply to all cases filed within the county. Sample Standing Orders for Divorce Cases in Georgia: Fulton County, Forsyth County
Common utilities and services that should not be cancelled without prior court approval include but are not limited to:
- Cable Television and Subscription Entertainment Services such as: YouTube TV, Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Amazon Prime
- Gym Memberships, Country Club Memberships
- Activities and Lessons for the Minor Children such as: dance, music lessons, Taekwondo, swimming lessons
- Pest Control, Lawn Maintenance, Cleaning Services
Do not do anything that could be viewed as malicious
If you are unsure about your actions, err on the side of caution and get the advice of your attorney of a neutral third party such as a therapist or your minister. Do not take the advice of close friends that may be too involved with the situation.
For example, terminating your spouse’s gym membership may seem innocent enough, especially if they are not using it. However, your spouse may claim that this was done with malicious intent, and may even file a Petition for Contempt of the Standing Order with the court.
While you may have very good evidence that the cancellation of the gym membership was totally reasonable because your spouse very rarely used it and therefore it had no negative effect on them; you may still have to go to court and present this evidence to protect yourself from sanctions and other negative legal fallout from the cancellation.
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