When Actions Become Evidence: Shifting Your Mindset in Divorce
Divorce can be disorienting. Things you thought you knew about your spouse may no longer hold true. They may not be the person you thought you married. And your outlook can change dramatically, too. Your thoughts about your future including where and even who you would be may be changing. Even your needs—whether to laugh or cry or scream—can fluctuate from moment to moment.
One piece of advice you’ll likely hear is to let your anger out. And while support groups or friends may encourage you to “get it out”, that may not be the soundest advice. According to my guests this week, the moment you decide on divorce, everything you say or do matters. As they put it, “your actions are now evidence.”
Sound scary? Let’s unpack the idea.
I sat down this week with the authors of The Empowered Woman's Guide to Divorce, Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge. Dr. Murray is one of the nation's leading experts on unhealthy relationships. She is the author of a number of books on unhealthy relationships and mental health. Her therapy practice is based in Laguna Niguel, California. Dodge is a former divorce attorney who now devotes his career to empowering women to represent themselves in family law proceedings as the legal director of Laura's House where he advocates for the legal rights of domestic violence survivors and their children.
As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t do anything on social media that you don’t want following you—perhaps even for years. This true for anything you don’t want an employer or a lawyer to see.
Phone & Text
Messages by phone and text are out of your control as soon as you hit “send”, and leave a record of your contact (or attempted contact) with your ex. Even if you don’t leave a message, there’s a record of your (possibly repeated) call attempts.
How it Can Hurt You
Once you’ve decided to divorce, you should expect that everything you do or say can potentially be used against you. Harassment in the form of nasty messages on social media or even relentless phonecalls or texts can put you at a serious disadvantage in the divorce.
A Special Warning for Co-Parenting
If you have a co-parenting arrangement, it’s especially important to be mindful of how and what you communicate to your ex. Not only will using insulting language or sharing painful details be hurtful to your children, but all of your interactions will be logged by lawyers and a judge. If you are always late to drop off the kids and send texts or call to say you’re running late, that will all show up on your phone record.
Deciding to divorce doesn’t mean you have to fight. In fact, it’s often the end of the fighting. Still, it’s important to be mindful of any actions or vulnerabilities your behavior may represent and adjust it so that you’re protected.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.