Oklahoma divorce lawyer shares seven deadly sinsRegardless of geography or socioeconomic status, custody and visitation remain among the most hotly contested and emotional issues in divorce cases. It is no surprise that once a separation happens, many previously rational adults become pig-headed bullies incapable of agreeing on even the most innocuous of details.

But even when it seems like the other side is acting in a certain way just to make your life miserable, it is extremely important to keep in mind and avoid actions that will kill your chances of favorable treatment by a judge.

These “Seven Deadly Sins of Separating Spouses” are given so that you can avoid doing them for the purpose of making your life in family litigation easier, and hopefully less contentious. These are general guidelines and not meant as legal advice. You should contact an attorney if you have questions. Book a consultation with Diana the Lawyer for legal advice specific to your circumstances.

1. Breaking the Law

It seems like this one should be obvious. But it is truly surprising how many previously well-behaved people suddenly become willing to break the law when it comes to separation behavior.

Whether it is simple harassment, like calling repeatedly or following the other party, or it is more dangerous, like breaking and entering or brandishing a weapon, make no mistake about it: These behaviors will end up in front of the judge, and you will not be able to talk your way out of it. The judge will not look favorably on you, and you will likely suffer some consequences, like lost custody and/or visitation with your kids. You may even end up with actual criminal charges and have to serve jail time, depending on the charges.

2. Ignoring a Court Order

A close second on the list is breaking a court order. Some people seem to be unaware that judges mean business when they issue orders and they take it quite seriously when their orders are ignored. This is especially true if the order has to do with the safety of children. So, if the court ordered you to stay away from a certain party over concerns for the children, stay away from that party!

Do not fool yourself into thinking the court will not find out, either. Parties very commonly hire private investigators to document exactly this type of infraction—and they don’t tell you ahead of time about it, either. So, unless you want to explain the photograph or video of your less than desirable lover sneaking into your bedroom window at 1 a.m., don’t allow it to happen!

3. Lying…Especially Under Oath

Most people realize that they should not lie when they are on the stand at the trial. But did you know that you are under an obligation to be truthful throughout your proceedings, even if you are not sitting in a courtroom?

For example, when your lawyer files your petition (the document that asks the judge to grant the divorce), you are required to sign an affidavit that everything that is claimed in that document is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge and belief. Similarly, if the lawyer for the other side takes your deposition, you will be placed under oath, and the penalties for lying in deposition are the same as if you were sitting on a witness stand in the courtroom in front of the judge. Even when you fill out discovery documents or provide evidence, not only are you required to be accurate and truthful but you are also required to update the information if things change in any significant or relevant way.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that if your lawyer does not know the whole truth about your situation, she will not be able to fully defend your position. For this reason, many lawyers expressly put in their contracts with clients that if they discover they have been lied to, it constitutes a breach of contract, and they will withdraw from representing you further.

4. Hiding or Draining Assets

While it may seem like a good idea in the moment to remove your last three paychecks from your joint checking account the minute you are served with a petition for divorce, avoid the temptation. In Oklahoma, an Automatic Temporary Injunction (ATI) immediately goes into effect by operation of law when you are served with divorce papers. This restraining order is to prevent exactly this type of sequestering or draining assets on the part of divorcing parties, and it is meant to keep the home stable while the issues and assets are sorted out.

Not only can you not drain or close accounts, but you also cannot sell off or gift assets in order to reduce the marital estate. If you have questions about whether there is an ATI in place or whether you can waive it, contact Diana the Lawyer today for an initial consultation.

5. Changing Insurance Policies

This one goes along with number four above but is listed separately because it happens often enough to warrant its own mention. Included in your ATI is a provision about not changing insurance policies, and it is also meant as a way to keep the status quo while the contested issues are resolved. If you discontinue medical coverage out of spite, you can rest assured the judge is not going to consider giving you the benefit of the doubt in any situation that arises. Don’t do it!

6. Bad Mouthing Your Ex to the Kids

This one bites people in the butt more than any of the others because, for some reason, people forget that their children are capable of remembering and repeating exactly what was said to them, and when and by whom! And although it is unusual to allow children to testify in court, it is by no means unheard of for judges to allow the children to talk to the judge in chambers—without the parents present!

The best rule of thumb, therefore, is not to say anything about the other parent that you would not be happy to have your child whisper right into the judge’s ear. This rule applies even if your ex really is a terrible person and a criminal. You will only hurt your own credibility by badmouthing. If you believe your child has important information to tell the judge about the other parent, write down what you think needs to be said and contact Diana the Lawyer for advice.

7. Losing Your Temper

If you are angry, do not email or text the opposing party, and never, never make a phone call when you are angry. Instead, get yourself a close friend, family member, or counselor and use them as a sounding board for your contested issues or situations that come up. This is much safer and will allow you some time to talk it through with someone and calm down before reacting.

Remember that even though you cannot always control how you feel, you always choose how you react to those feelings. The more times you respond calmly and rationally, the more you set the tone for what the other party can expect from you. Believe it or not, this technique—even when practiced consistently by only one side—has helped calm many contentious situations and has led to faster resolutions.

Do You Need to Speak to an Oklahoma Family Law Attorney About Your Divorce?

If you want the court to see you as a rational and mature adult capable of reasoning and restraint, then you need to take actions that are consistent with that picture. Judges do not want to award custody to people who are not able to control themselves and look out for the best interests of their children.

If you’re going through a divorce and need assistance protecting your legal rights, I can help. I'm a Jenks family law attorney serving clients in Bixby, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Collinsville, Glenpool, Jenks, Muskogee, Owasso, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, and throughout Oklahoma. Contact Diana the Lawyer online or call 918-605-4826 to schedule a consultation to discuss how to best address your divorce, child custody, and visitation concerns.