By:  Victoria E. Paone, Esq.

               For many people, going through a divorce can be an overwhelming and emotionally taxing experience.   Our firm has compiled a list of 25 common pitfalls to avoid during your divorce action. It is my hope that clients will avoid actions which undermine their case by adhering to our list of things not to do during a divorce case.  

What not to do during your divorce

  1. Avoid opening e-mail from your attorney.
  2. Ignore calls from your attorney or respond to your attorney several weeks later.
  3. Assume that your telephone conversations with your spouse are not being recorded or your text messages to your spouse are not being saved.
  4. Assume that your mail and e-mail in the home are secure and private.
  5. Upon vacating the marital abode, leave behind financial records and documents which are critical to your case.
  6. Make admissions; boast about your personal success to your spouse.
  7. Share details about the communications that you have with your lawyer with paramours, in-laws and potential third party witnesses.
  8. Visit gambling resorts such as Atlantic City or Las Vegas (especially if your ability to pay is in issue).
  9. Take a lavish once-in-a-lifetime vacation, purchase unusual luxury items, or engage in expensive cosmetic medical procedures.
  10. Open new bank accounts jointly with third parties and put marital money in them.
  11. Make an unnecessary visit to your safe deposit box.
  12. Sign financial applications under oath which conflict with your Case Information Statement or other documents filed with the Court.
  13.  Take jobs for cash, barter or unreported income.
  14. Make major deviations from your marital lifestyle by significantly increasing or decreasing your monthly expenses. 
  15. Pay your spouse in cash.
  16.  Quit your job/change careers/retire early.
  17. Get involved in a new business venture or speculative investment.
  18. Put off a comprehensive physical or mental health exam.
  19. Terminate or modify existing insurance coverage or beneficiary status.
  20. Transfer property without a court order.
  21. Make settlement proposals directly to your spouse or sign proffered settlement proposals without conferring with your attorney.
  22. Fail to comply with custody and parenting time schedules.
  23. Flaunt your new romantic interest to your spouse (and to your children).
  24. Take the children to court and to your attorney’s office.
  25. Show court documents and attorney letters to the children.

By avoiding these pitfalls, litigants may minimize conflict and the corresponding litigation costs, and avoid involving their children in the divorce.

* (Editor’s note: Victoria E. Paone, Esq. is an associate at the Law Offices of Paone, Zaleski & Murphy working out of the firm’s Red Bank office, located at 120 Maple Avenue. Victoria’s professional history includes clerking in Monmouth County for the Honorable Mara E. Zazzali-Hogan for both the Family part, Chancery Division and Civil Division for 2016-2017. She is currently a member of the New Jersey State Bar, Middlesex Bar Association, Monmouth Bar Association and Aldona E. Appleton Family Law Inn of Court. Victoria limits her practice to divorce, child support, child custody, equitable distribution, alimony, domestic violence, alimony, palimony and all other family law issues. Her monthly column, “Divorce Hotline,” will serve to inform readers as to family law news, advise as to the divorce process, comment on recently published family law cases and more. Have a question about your divorce? Please contact Paone, Zaleski & Murphy at 732-750-9797.)