If you have recently gone through a legal separation or have just filed for divorce, your relationship status may not feel very different from what it was before. However, the demarcation line between a struggling marriage and a pending divorce is an important one. What you do and say now will likely be scrutinized and could potentially be used as evidence in court.

You may have little to worry about if you and your spouse are on good terms and the divorce is likely to be amicable. But if the divorce is being litigated and/or you worry about your spouse being vindictive, it is important to display measured behavior from now until the divorce is finalized.

This is difficult for many soon-to-be divorcees because the person who was once your closest confidant has suddenly become either an adversary or an emotionally unavailable stranger. As such, you may want to react with angry emails, hurtful texts or even a drunken voice mail message at 3:00 in the morning.

It should go without saying that all of these reactions could damage your case. Anything in writing or otherwise recorded could be shared with your spouse’s attorney and with a judge. Whether or not it gets recorded, you should avoid:

  • Threatening your spouse
  • Bad-mouthing your spouse to your children or others in the community
  • “Drunk-dialing” your spouse or anyone else
  • Posting details about the divorce/custody case online

It is also important to monitor your words and behaviors in other ways before the divorce and/or child custody case has been finalized. Excessive drinking or any illegal drug use could seriously jeopardize both your divorce and your chances of being awarded child custody. It is also risky to start dating while the divorce is pending, particularly if your children live with you and notice new partners in your life.

This is not to say that you can’t lose your cool once in a while. In fact, blowing off steam can be good for you. But please choose to do so in a way that is private and will not harm you or anyone else. Until your divorce and custody cases are finalized, measured and reasonable behavior is the best way to avoid a negative outcome.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Newly Separated? Don’t Do Anything Stupid!” Jackie Pilossoph, April 7, 2014