Three D’s in Divorce: Avoid Them
I call them the Three D’s in Divorce, because they are areas where we see people get into trouble during their divorce, and sometimes, it hits them hard.
The first “D”of the Three D’s in Divorce is drugs. If children are involved in any family law matter, then the use of illegal drugs, or the misuse of legal ones, is a serious concern to the courts. I have even heard one Judge say that she will never give a child to a parent who tests positive.
It doesn’t do any good to try and justify it. “Well, this is legal in Colorado” will not play well in court, or “This drug is a prescription drug; it’s just not my prescription” is not any better.
If a parent uses an illegal or misuses a prescription drug, the court will take that into consideration when deciding who gets primary custody of the child, what the possession schedule will be, and whether the possession will be supervised.
Yes, alcohol is legal. The use of it, however can affect a case involving children this is why it is one of the three “D”s in divorce. It is easy to see that one (or more) DWIs will be considered by the court; especially, if the child is in the car at the time. However, just the use of alcohol can be argued as a factor in a divorce case. Again, Judges don’t want to hear excuses. “I just got drunk that one time” will not fly and neither will “I just have that one DWI.” Judges have all seen studies found that first offenders are very likely to have driven drunk before their first arrest. In fact, studies found that on average, one arrest is made for every 88 instances of driving over the legal limit defining drunk driving.
A Judge is not going to be impressed if someone with a child is engaging in activities involving alcohol. I have been in court when opposing counsel offered pictures of my client with a drink in his hand while in possession of the children and tried to show that my client was irresponsible. The opposition never even suggested my client was intoxicated. We were able to show that the location was a family restaurant (they called it a bar) and kept primary custody for my client, but it could easily have gone the other way. Again, alcohol is not illegal, and a reasonable amount will have little effect on the child, but it might have a big effect on the case.
Clients frequently want to know when they can start dating again . It is hard sometimes to understand why dating is one of the Three D’s in Divorce until you face the Judge and an attorney prepared to pursue everything in the best interest of their client. The appellate courts have been clear; adultery is adultery, even after the spouses have separated and are in the process of a divorce.
Sometimes, it is easy to turn an uncontested divorce into a contested divorce when your spouse becomes aware that you are now dating. Before, he or she was willing to just split the assets and move on, but now there is a touch of betrayal or even just a desire to jump on the opportunity to get a better deal. Judges absolutely can take your dating relationship into account, both when deciding on who has primary possession of the children and how the property is being divided. Remember that a judge can disproportionately award community property based on the behavior of a spouse that damages the marriage relationship.
Your personal conduct, both before and after the date of separation, through the date of the divorce, is subject to being questioned, both in deposition and at trial, in complete detail. It’s not unusual for an attorney to take the deposition, or subpoena to trial, a person that is in a relationship with the other party, often referred to as the paramour. If you think that the divorce process is tough on you, think about how your girlfriend or boyfriend will feel when that subpoena arrives.
I will accept that there are people who cannot wait. If you can’t wait, then follow these two rules: (1) Do not appear in public any more than necessary. You don’t want your spouse seething every time he or she hears that you have been spotted. (2) NEVER take the paramour around your children. Few things can stir up a Judge as much as involving your paramour in your children’s lives. NEVER means NEVER–not at the house, not at dinner, not even just picking them up or dropping them. If you follow the above rules the likely hood that your dating will cause you problems during your divorce.
There is a fourth Divorce “D”, but it has to do solely with property. These Three D’s in Divorce affect children and, occasionally, property. I will address the fourth “D” in a later blog. If you are facing any issues with the Three D’s in Divorce, discuss it thoroughly with your attorney. Attorneys can represent you a lot better when they are aware of everything that may come up in court. You can help your attorney help you. If you are in the Fort Worth Area and need a divorce attorney. Contact the Bob Leonard Law Group at 817-336-8500.