Be careful about what you allege in divorce court!

In a divorce case, there can be a real temptation to let the Divorce Court know just exactly how terrible you think the other party is. That can backfire, however, if you are not careful. For instance, I had a trial once in divorce court where my client testified to the judge about just how nutty and insane he thought his wife was. He told the court all about her suicide attempts, depression and drug use. What happened is the judge then began to develop a narrative in his own analysis of the case that the wife was incapable of working, which would have severely increased my client’s alimony obligation. Luckily, some quick thinking diverted the court away from this narrative and my client did ok. But, it was a very close call.

What is the moral to the story? Be careful what you allege in divorce court. Sometimes facts that you think will help can actually be counterproductive and harmful to your case. A good rule of thumb is that you only share what is going to tell your story as you (and your lawyer) want the judge to hear it. If in doubt (especially when alleging negative aspects about the other person’s character) run it by your attorney. Don’t drop an unexpected bomb in divorce court.

Shawn Weber, Attorney and Mediator

 

Comments

  1. The admonition not to drop a bomb on your lawyer in court is a good one. If you tell the court some new tidbit that you haven’t shared with your lawyer ahead of time, she might not be able to ask questions that will mitigate the damage. It is also true that you aren’t doing yourself a favor by trying to sneak in information that hasn’t been requested. Your lawyer may have a good reason not to elicit that information, and if you squeeze it in anyway, you could be annoying the judge. to

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