Emotional turmoil is always part of a divorce. Parties suffer from the friction and overriding gloom of a marriage that has run off the tracks. Sometimes the frustration and anger of the situation result in an overwhelming need for “pay-back” – the need to inflict some type of injury on the other party. Quite often, the “pay-back” happens before a party hires a lawyer or without asking for their lawyer’ advice.
What if the client had asked the lawyer – “Is it okay if I do this…?”
- Use a hockey stick to smack the windshield of the Porsche?
- Throw the clothes out in the yard and turn on the sprinkler system?
- Post notice on all the social media and tell my side of the story?
- Go to the other party’s office and tell everyone about…?
- Call the paramour to tell that person about…?
- Hire a detective to follow the other party?
- Put a tracker on the Ferrari?
- Put tracker software on the other party’s personal computer?
- Take the memory card out of the other party’s cell phone?
- Put tracker software on the business computer the other party has?
- Take the memory card out of the business cell phone the other party has?
- Pull all the money out of the bank account?
- Cut off the other party’s cell phone service?
- Cut off the other party’s credit cards?
- Change my Will to cut out the other party?
- Change the beneficiary on my life insurance?
- Post on line the naked photos of the other party…?
- Open/divert/return/destroy the other party’s mail?
- Have the elective cosmetic surgery I want?
- Buy the new car that I want?
- Postpone employment in order to increase other party’s child support and alimony obligation?
- Continue seeing my special friend?
The facts are different in every divorce case so a lawyer’s advice is tailored to fit each particular situation, however, here are some comments to consider if a client asked “Is it okay if I do this?”
Items 1 and 2
Legal – but not a good idea and is highly expensive.
Why – Other than making you feel better, how does this help you? The expense of repairs and replacement will be steep and will be paid out of community property.
Items 3, 4, 5
Legal – but not a good idea as it can be extremely embarrassing.
Why? You are placing yourself in a bad light. In the future you will be embarrassed about your actions.
Items 6, 7
Legal – but not a good idea as there are other alternatives.
Why? Detectives bill by the hour whether they turn up helpful information or not. Trackers are expensive and there are laws that limit the use of vehicle trackers. There are other ways to get the information.
Items 8, 9
Not okay. Do not do it, as it is illegal, and there are other alternatives.
Why? There are laws that make tampering with computers and other electronic equipment a crime. The judge can enter orders to produce the data.
Items 10, 11
Not okay. Absolutely do not do this, as it is not your property.
Why? See prior response. The equipment belongs to the employer, not to you or your spouse. The judge can enter orders to produce the data.
Items 12, 13, 14, 15, 16
Not okay. Definitely do not do it, as it violates Standing Orders.
Why? The judge will be peeved if you violate Standing Orders that prohibit those acts. If the bank account is empty, everything will bounce – automatic payments, checks, credit cards, debit cards, etc.. Credit ratings will suffer.
Not okay. Absolutely do not do it, as it is illegal and embarrassing.
Why? If it is revenge porn, it is criminal offense. Even if it is not illegal, it is embarrassing for the other party and in the future you will be embarrassed about your conduct.
Not okay. Do not do it, as it may be illegal.
Why? United States law prohibits tampering with the mail. Important documents may be lost.
Maybe okay, maybe not okay. This is expensive.
Why? This is okay if there are legitimate medical reasons for the surgery. This is not okay if there is no medical recommendation.
This maybe okay, maybe not okay. It is expensive.
Why? This is okay if there is a need for a reliable vehicle. This is not okay if the purchase is not essential and it creates a financial crunch.
This is not okay and a bad idea as divorce creates a cash crunch.
Why? The Family Code requires a party to pursue employment and/or education. Child support is based on the paying party’s income. Divorce creates a cash crunch.
This is your choice, but be discrete.
Why? Distrust and suspicion are almost always part of a divorce. The involvement of a third party can escalate the emotional aspects of the case and hinder settlement negotiations.
Client’s Question –
“Is it OK if I do this…?”
Best Answer –
“It’s probably not a good idea because…