Jeopardizing your divorce case: Ten things you should never do

Learn the 10 things you should never do when dealing with your attorney and court proceedings. This article can save you from future loss and embarrassment.

By Stacy D. Phillips, Author and Certified Family Law Specialist
Updated: September 25, 2014
Family Lawyers

In my book, Divorce: It's All About Control--How to Win the Emotional, Psychological and Legal Wars, I devote an entire chapter to top ten lists, ala David Letterman. Some of these lists are approached lightheartedly, while others are serious.

These itemized rundowns provide pointers on things you should and shouldn't do as you navigate your way through a divorce.

Also, some of the lists I provide in my book help the reader identify what he or she can and cannot tolerate in a marriage; things one ought not to say to one's ex, one's attorney, or the children. Other lists give pointers on different issues like where not to look to find someone new in terms of a significant other.

You may think many of my suggestions are outlandish, others downright comical. But, in my years of practicing family law I have seen and heard it all! For instance, people have said to me they would never do or say some of the things on my "do not..." top ten lists, but they have, and worse! I have heard everything from "I won't have to divorce him. I'll just kill him" to "why do I have to tell the truth he/she is lying" (this one I hear all the time). I have also seen everything, from clients walking into court with flip flops, mini-skirts, nightclub attire; and some with beard stubble (that may be hip but it does not play well in court!) to full-length fur coats. Many of the poor dressers are not my clients; I like to think that I coach my clients well.

While this Top Ten book chapter, lends itself to a great deal of humor -- I chose to include it in order to bring some levity to the tense discussions addressing the carnage of the divorce wars—it also provides vital information that one may well wish to take to heart.

I will now present the first segment in a fourteen-part series that will run over the next several weeks, each containing a top ten list. Of course, I will also provide pointers in a few follow up articles at the completion of this top ten list presentation on topics such as how to make your own top ten lists — those that will help you gain a clearer picture of what you want and do not want in the future as you enter into a new, more positive relationship.

This first list in the series offers ten "never do's" -- mistakes that are bound to jeopardize your case. In typical Letterman fashion, I will present each of the ten items starting with number ten and working backwards to number one.

Many of the following are my admonishments in terms of what to avoid doing as it relates to court behavior and attorney dealings, but I have tossed in a few other important ones as well to keep you from hurting your divorce case. Keep your sense of humor, but take heed:

10. Never refer to your holdings as your hidden assets.
9. Never show up late (or early) for a court appearance with a hangover.
8. Never telephone your ex's attorney and tell him/her off.
7. Never bribe the kids into testifying against your ex.
6. Never throw a fit in court.
5. Never act in a threatening or inappropriate manner in front of your ex's attorney.
4. Never toss out a pickup line to the Judge.
3. Never have a wild party on your custodial weekends.
2. Never lose or destroy your important paperwork.
1. Never say, "I'll never get through this.


Stacy D. Phillips is a co-founder of Phillips Lerner, A Law Corporation, which specializes in high-profile family law matters. She is co-chair of the Women's Political Committee and a member of Divorce Magazine's North American Advisory Board. She can be reached at (310) 277-7117. View her firm's Divorce Magazine profile here.

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February 18, 2010
Categories:  Family Lawyers

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