Divorce is quite possibly the hardest and most exhausting journey an individual will embark upon.  In the profession, divorce attorneys state that we see “good people at their worst.” I often encounter individuals languishing in pain due to destructive relationships that seem to strip their lives of joy and, most important to the divorce process, rational thought. I don’t mean to sound harsh but, in a typical high conflict divorce, tensions tend to run extremely high and runaway emotions cause people to make poor decisions that they often later regret.  The purpose of this blog post is to provide some examples of behavior to avoid during your divorce.

1. Do not read your spouse’s email. 

Please “for the love of God and all that is holy” (to quote my Grandmother) DO NOT READ YOUR SPOUSE’S EMAIL. I do not care if your spouse at one time gave you his or her password, or gave you consent to read their email.  FYI – The divorce filing revokes that consent. I do not care if they got a new device and didn’t disable the iCloud.  I do not care if they left their password in the browser and all you have to do is simply log-in by the stroke of the enter key.  Auto-populated passwords do not give you carte blanche authority to go on a fishing expedition.  I repeat that none of these reasons are acceptable situations to break the law. Yes, you read that correctly. Reading your spouse’s email by hacking into their account is illegal.

Additionally, those precious emails that you care so much about can be legitimately requested and obtained by your lawyer through the discovery process. If you decide to go on your mission and break the law, my job is infinitely harder and those precious but wrongfully obtained emails will never see the light of day.  It may be tempting but, please, step away from the computer and consult your attorney.

2. Do not post about your life on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok.

Not only is your TikTok activity being fed to the Chinese government (allegedly), in the divorce world it is evidence. So, again, please step away from the computer and get your social media accounts under control.  Emotional posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok, do nothing to further your case and, in fact, hand ammunition over to your adversary.  Why would you give your adversary bullets with which to shoot you? Only an individual whose judgment is impaired because of emotional turmoil would do such a thing. Find your friends in real life and ask them to meet you at a socially distant location, wear your mask (these are COVID times) and vent about all the woes. I’m serious. None of your emotions should be on display on any social media account.

3. Do not value another person’s experience over your lawyer’s advice.

Once you enter the divorce arena, everybody, and I mean everybody, suddenly has an opinion about the process.  There is a time and place for all information and, just like any other facet of your life, information gathering is essential in divorce. However, valuing the advice of your Aunt Gertrude’s best friend’s mother’s sister’s daughter’s divorce attorney in Tuscaloosa, Alabama over the advice of your attorney is an absurd proposition that you should seriously reconsider.

It is important at all stages of the divorce process that you regularly remember what your goals are and focus on how you can best achieve these goals.  In some circumstances, you will need to make concessions in order to reach your goals. Do not be afraid to place your goals and what may work for your family over what society measures a “victory,” or what someone else may (note the italics) tell you they somehow pulled off in their case.  Sometimes you have to roll the dice, and other times you need to make appropriate concessions. At the end of the day, this is your life and you are in the driver’s seat. Drive carefully and don’t value another person’s experience over your lawyer’s advice.

Marissa Pullano focuses her practice on all aspects of matrimonial and family law, including contested proceedings regarding the equitable distribution of substantial real property and assets, child support and spousal maintenance, paternity, custody and access, and order modification and enforcement. Marissa believes that all clients deserve significant attention as they navigate the court system. She strives to achieve resolutions that minimize conflict, but acts as a zealous advocate on behalf of her clients in the courtroom when litigation cannot be avoided.  She can be reached at mpullano@jaspanllp.com or (516) 393-8297.