If you say the wrong thing to your spouse or one of her friends or give a status update on Facebook – for example, comments about child custody, visitation, property settlements, etc. — it could end up causing you a lot of serious damage.
After having loved and spent many years with her, it’s hard for some men to simply stop talking to a soon-to-be-ex. There’s often a lingering temptation to share casual news about parenting or neighbors or your job, but divorce isn’t a social activity, it’s a business deal.
Remember Murphy’s Law and assume the worst: If something you say can be misquoted or misinterpreted to your disadvantage, it will be!
Be Cool And Be Quiet
It’s easy to see how talking to your spouse during a divorce can cause problems. Suppose you mention a big new deal at work that could enhance your asset portfolio. That’s blood in the water for a shark.
Or maybe you happily discuss doing something with your children which your spouse thinks is inappropriate; she might raise a stink to make you look like an irresponsible parent. Why risk giving her ammunition?
In many cases, particularly if the husband believes he and his ex-wife will still be on friendly terms after the divorce, shared conversation may seem harmless. But don’t let your guard down.
Even the most innocent remark about vacation plans or home improvements could affect a court’s perception of your parenting abilities, child support responsibilities, personal assets and much more.
Angry Conversation Makes It Worse
At the hostile end of the divorce spectrum, verbal exchanges between husbands and wives can be legal powder kegs. When a spouse has been wronged, insults and trash talk often come quickly – and backfire.
In fact, some vengeful wives may try to bait their husbands into saying something to use against them, or to make remarks that sound threatening. You avoid those traps by not talking to your spouse at all during divorce proceedings.
Sometimes divorcing couples need to talk to each other, like for visitation schedule changes and other parenting concerns. Whenever possible, do your communicating via email. That’s even more important if things are tense between you and your spouse.
When emotions run high, there’s a greater chance of saying something regretful in a verbal exchange. By putting your words in writing, you minimize risks of losing your temper if provoked.
Remember, though: your email gives her a permanent record of what you write. Don’t be sarcastic in your message, and don’t make any promises. Stick to the facts at hand.
Some divorcing couples try to record their conversations for possible incriminating evidence, but most lawyers recommend against it. Improper recording may create criminal liability or may not be admissible in court. However, it’s smart to hang on to any angry voice-mails your wife leaves on your phone!
Let Your Divorce Lawyer Do Your Talking
There’s a lot of gray area on this topic, but a basic rule is simply to keep silent. Don’t talk about your divorce with friends, relatives, co-workers or even in-laws. Your wife’s family may take your side at first – especially if she left you – but they’ll eventually forgive her.
Remember, you want to be in control in divorce proceedings. By discussing your strategies or revealing vulnerabilities, you weaken your position.
Retain a qualified, experienced law firm and let “your people” talk to “her people.” That’s a smarter approach for everybody.
Steve Unger is a St. Louis, Mo., freelance writer.