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Episode 81 - Things That Will Set Off Fireworks in Your Divorce

Episode 81 - Things That Will Set Off Fireworks in Your Divorce Image

11/20/2018 9:31 am

The 4th of July fireworks are always fun to watch, but fireworks in your divorce . . . not so much. Tune in to learn which behaviors to avoid so that your divorce does not turn from a 3 month, $3,500 divorce into a 3 year, $150,000 divorce. As they often do, partners Todd Orston and Leh Meriwether use satire and humor to teach important lessons that every divorce party should learn.

Transcript

Leh Meriwether:             Hey, you know Todd ... I got real excited.

Todd Orston:                   You're already flustered. You haven't even gotten the "Hey, Todd" out.

Leh Meriwether:             I so enjoyed the fireworks recently on the Fourth of July. It was just so much fun, just watching them.

Todd Orston:                   Well, yes, Leh. I thoroughly enjoyed the fireworks.

Leh Meriwether:             But it got me thinking.

Todd Orston:                   Scary.

Leh Meriwether:             I know. But it got me thinking. You know, we should have a show about the things that set off fireworks in divorce cases.

Todd Orston:                   I got to tell you, terrible idea. You know what, I changed my mind. How about we just do that today?

Leh Meriwether:             Oh, that'd be great. Are you ready?

Todd Orston:                   Great minds think alike.

Leh Meriwether:             Welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. Here you'll learn about divorce, family law, tips on how to save your marriage if it's in the middle of a crisis, and from time to time, even tips on how to take your marriage to the next level. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

                                         Today, we're going to talk about things that can set off fireworks in your divorce.

Todd Orston:                   And we are not talking about the Twizzlers ... What do you call those things? The boring-

Leh Meriwether:             No, but they can definitely burn you.

Todd Orston:                   But they can ... Oh, those can burn you. Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             No, I'm talking about the fireworks in the divorce can burn you.

Todd Orston:                   Look, we always talk about this. A divorce does not have to be nasty. But certain behaviors can take a divorce into a direction that leads to and necessitates a lot more intense litigation. That's what we're talking about. We're talking about the fireworks. We're talking about the behavior that causes the blowups that unfortunately result in more litigation.

Leh Meriwether:             And more attorney's fees.

Todd Orston:                   That's right.

Leh Meriwether:             Just a lot more expenses, a lot more emotion, prolong the case. So if you haven't caught the drift yet, the things we're going to talk about today are things you do not want to do in your divorce. Let's be clear.

Todd Orston:                   Unless ... This is not a recommendation list.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, this is not a recommendation list. Unless you want to pay your lawyer a lot of money.

Todd Orston:                   That's right.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, so some of these are fresh in our minds, because they've happened recently, and others have happened, we've known they've happened to us and other lawyers over the years, so we're going to start off with withdrawing money from the bank the day before bills are due.

Todd Orston:                   Convenient!

Leh Meriwether:             Yes.

Todd Orston:                   Convenient. I've got to tell you, I've had people call and they are ... you know, and say, "Oh, I had money in the account. I have to pay the mortgage, the utilities, the insurance, the car note, and now I have zero in my bank account. Oh, and by the way, I got paid two days ago, so I'm not going to get paid for another two weeks or four weeks." It always goes over well.

Leh Meriwether:             Yes.

Todd Orston:                   By the way, that was sarcasm.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. I got that.

Todd Orston:                   You got ... You picked up on that.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   We see that unfortunately too often, where all of a sudden, money disappears and in addition to the fact that there's going to be some fireworks just because the money has disappeared, sometimes the timing is just sort of the cherry on top, okay? Because it's like oh, fantastic. Now I either have written checks, the checks are already in the mail-

Leh Meriwether:             And they're going to bounce.

Todd Orston:                   Right, and they're going to bounce, and at the time same, we have to deal with the issue that the car note's not going to be paid, the mortgage isn't going to be paid. All of these things that that money was earmarked for, it's not going to happen. Not going to get paid.

Leh Meriwether:             And we seem to see it ... We see it all the time, right? Somebody gets, and it may be because somebody got some bad advice. Some people got scared there was going to be issues with the money, even though the other party had always paid the bills on time and everything, so they just ... That move, you think you're trying to protect yourself, and what you're doing is you in many cases make yourself look bad because arguably, you're damaging the marital estate because if suddenly bills are not getting paid, you're getting hit with late fees and bounced check fees, and all of a sudden, that decision not only raised the emotional level tenfold, now you're spending more money on lawyer fees, you're spending more money on banking fees and finance fees and finance charges.

Todd Orston:                   And that doesn't even start to deal with the litigation fees that are going to come when the other party goes crazy and is upset, goes to their attorney, and next thing you know, things are being filed-

Leh Meriwether:             Files a motion.

Todd Orston:                   Right. So that is not ... I want to be very clear though. Sometimes it is necessary to protect assets. Sometimes it is necessary to take money out of an account, and sometimes it's even necessary to take all the money out of the account. Be smart. Be strategic. Don't just do something if it's going to create a thousand more problems, because to your point, it may make you look bad in the eyes of the court, especially if the other side's not going to just let it go. There aren't many where they'll just be like, "Oh, you took all the money? I have no money to pay bills? Hey, high five. That's great. Oh, and I'm out of town and I can't drive around now?"

Leh Meriwether:             That's right. "I have no gas, I have no food."

Todd Orston:                   High five, that was fantastic. Great timing.

Leh Meriwether:             Can't even buy food to eat.

Todd Orston:                   I don't know why I'm talking like this when I take on that character, but whatever.

Leh Meriwether:             That must be the Carl in you.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, throughout this show, that'll be my, "Oh, I'm happy. You're taking advantage of me." So yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             So there are circumstances, but if you're going to do something like that, talk to your lawyer first, and make sure you cover the bills if you're going to take the money. Because maybe someone said, "I'm going to take all the money and leave the country." We've seen that before, then you take it out to protect the asset but then you account for it, you pay all the bills with it.

Todd Orston:                   And that's very different.

Leh Meriwether:             That's very different.

Todd Orston:                   But what we see oftentimes is the money gets withdrawn and then it's, "What about the mortgage? What about this?" and it's, "Best of luck. Hey, I don't know where you're going to come up with the money, but you better." Really? Because the court's probably not going to agree with that strategy.

Leh Meriwether:             Right.

Todd Orston:                   So what about financial support? What about withdrawing or withholding financial support?

Leh Meriwether:             That's going to create fireworks, too. If you have historically paid certain bills on behalf of your spouse and because they file for divorce, you suddenly stop, well, that's not going to look good to the court. All of a sudden, there's going to be all these motions filed, there's going to be requests for temporary hearings to take care of these bills, so that can drive up the things. So don't do that without talking to your lawyer.

Todd Orston:                   You know what another one is that always ... It's in my top 10. It's just, the reaction is usually so positive. Gigantic shopping sprees. You know? During the pendency of a divorce or leading up to and right before something's filed, just going out and burning through a whole bunch of money.

Leh Meriwether:             But Bob ... I mean, Bob. Now you're Bob.

Todd Orston:                   Now I'm Bob?

Leh Meriwether:             But Todd ...

Todd Orston:                   I definitely have some issues. This is Bob, talking like this.

Leh Meriwether:             Last week you were Carl. Now you're Bob.

Todd Orston:                   That's right.

Leh Meriwether:             But Todd, she said I could buy that Porsche.

Todd Orston:                   Oh, yeah. Really?

Leh Meriwether:             She said it five years ago, but ...

Todd Orston:                   Right, exactly. Exactly, when you were talking about the dream car you were going to one day have. No, and I've got to tell you, I've seen situations where people have gone on just ridiculous sprees. They're buying clothes, they're buying cars. I had one case where it was not the level car they had ever, as a married couple, had, and came home with a 6 Series brand new convertible BMW, a beautiful car and very expensive, and then they were looking to the other party to A, forgive the money spent, and B, pay the monthly costs. So yeah, that does not go over well.

Leh Meriwether:             No. Moving assets to a place where someone can't get it. So it may not be necessarily cash. We've had cases with silver bars and gold bars, just suddenly moving them. They were in the house and now they're gone. We have no idea where they are. Even though the other person may have put them in a place that's accounted for, it still creates a level of distrust that sets off fireworks in a divorce.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, and we see both sides. Right? What I mean by both sides, meaning we see the situations where someone will take the asset in question and do something to save it, to protect it, all right? But we see many other situations where the other party does something improper, where we have seen large, large amounts of cash in, let's say, a home safe, disappear.

Leh Meriwether:             Jewelry.

Todd Orston:                   Jewelry, gold. So we have seen all sorts of things where it disappears, never to be seen or heard from again. All right? So when you say, "Well, I've put it somewhere safe," the fact that the other party is just not believing you, all right, you have to understand from their perspective, maybe you're telling the truth and maybe they're never going to get their hands on that asset again, and maybe that means that it's gone forever and they'll never get the credit for it.

Leh Meriwether:             Another one that I see fires people off is shutting them off from the bank account. Maybe not moving the money, but suddenly taking them off a bank account and shutting off their access to credit cards that they have traditionally used and used without running up. Maybe they were using them for the children. Maybe they were at a restaurant and gosh, you want to talk about upsetting someone, you're at a restaurant, you've ordered a meal for you and the kids, and you run the credit card and it says it's declined. And you run the next credit card, it says it ... You pull out your debit card, and you have no cash.

Todd Orston:                   You have to wash a lot of dishes.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, but that memory, that will taint any negotiations from that point forward, of that experience.

Todd Orston:                   And that's a great point, because you may not go to jail for not paying for the meal or you figure out a way, but it caused a whole bunch of stress-

Leh Meriwether:             And embarrassment.

Todd Orston:                   ... and embarrassment. That's going to carry with you throughout the pendency of the case and could impact ... not could, does impact how the case is handled and how quickly you can get to a settlement.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. And so other fireworks. Another one is running up debt, and we talked about examples of going out on shopping sprees, but just running up debt that you don't need to.

Todd Orston:                   Or running out of time.

Leh Meriwether:             Which we're running out of. Hey, when we come back, we're going to talk about how paramours or adulterous situations can cause even more fireworks.

                                         Hey Todd, I think we should just keep going and try to one up each other. You know, kind of like fireworks-

Todd Orston:                   Absolutely.

Leh Meriwether:             ... how they just keep building and building to the grand finale?

Todd Orston:                   Well, some sparklers leading to the ...

Leh Meriwether:             Start with sparklers.

Todd Orston:                   I don't even know what they're all called. I can't even remember what they're called now.

Leh Meriwether:             Firecrackers?

Todd Orston:                   What are the ... Bottle rockets.

Leh Meriwether:             Oh, bottle rockets.

Todd Orston:                   Oh, I used to have fun with bottle ... All very responsible.

Leh Meriwether:             Roman candles?

Todd Orston:                   Roman candles.

Leh Meriwether:             Oh, I used to have a lot of fun with that. Hey everyone, welcome back. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

                                         Today, we're talking about the things that can cause fireworks in your divorce and just for the caveat, us lawyers have to have that in there, we are not recommending any of the things we are talking about unless you really want your divorce to take longer and cost a lot more money.

Todd Orston:                   Well, I don't even think you need that caveat. I think it's, this is not what we're recommending. These are problem behaviors that usually result in litigation.

Leh Meriwether:             Yes.

Todd Orston:                   So we're trying to avoid that for you.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, so let's talk about, how about using marital money to pay for unnecessary surgeries?

Todd Orston:                   Well, hold on one second. You're defining it as unnecessary. But it is amazing how we will have cases where parties have been married for 20 years and unfortunately, things are not going well and they are going forward with a divorce. My voice is getting softer and softer.

Leh Meriwether:             You're leading me in.

Todd Orston:                   And all of a sudden, there's $15,000 in dental work and some other, $15,000 in cosmetic surgery. All of these things happen and bank accounts are going down, down, down, down.

Leh Meriwether:             The bills are going up, up, up, up.

Todd Orston:                   Very convenient, and usually the other party that you're leaving, that you're divorcing, loves the fact that you've chosen that time to fix yourself up. Especially when you are fixing it up probably for another person that you're seeing.

Leh Meriwether:             Oh, and that's when the fireworks go from Roman candles to what is that, class three fireworks that are in the big cannons?

Todd Orston:                   Big fireworks.

Leh Meriwether:             Big fireworks. Yeah, it goes from sparklers to ...

Todd Orston:                   Big.

Leh Meriwether:             The grand finale.

Todd Orston:                   You know, whatever. There you go. [crosstalk 00:13:51] name. But yeah, jokes aside, we see this unfortunately all the time, that-

Leh Meriwether:             Just wait until the divorce is over.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, and I understand why people do it, because they want to try and get that in and use the marital asset before the divorce, because after the divorce is done and you've gotten whatever you've gotten in terms of division of property, then all of a sudden, you're paying 100% for the surgery costs and whatever medical costs there are. So I understand the rationale, but do not kid yourself. A, if you think it's not going to create problems in the litigation, you are wrong. It always does. There's always fireworks that follow it. And then on top of that, if you think it's not at least going to be a topic of conversation that if you burned through $10, $15, $20,000 plus dollars that the other side is not like, "Uh, that's all now, so however we're dividing the estate, I want the first $20,000 because they chose to have the surgery," and sometimes courts will do that. In other words, they'll try and equalize it and make it fair. "Hey, ma'am or sir, you chose to spend 20 grand on those procedures now? All right, well, you know what? That was your choice. I'm going to give $20,000 to the other party and then we'll deal with the rest [crosstalk 00:15:10]-"

Leh Meriwether:             And we're mainly talking about elective surgeries. Not like someone-

Todd Orston:                   No. No, no, no.

Leh Meriwether:             ... the divorce is filed but at the same time, someone has a heart attack and they have to have a bypass.

Todd Orston:                   Exactly.

Leh Meriwether:             We're talking about these elective surgeries that weren't necessary. All right, and so here's another one. Giving your paramour your credit card with no limit.

Todd Orston:                   Good idea. That's more sarcasm. Yeah, and we have seen that, as well.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   Where someone, a party is dating, the divorce is pending, and then we as attorneys, part of our job is to go through financial documentation. That includes credit card statements. We are going to know what credit cards are out there. We're going to look at the spending. We're going to ask certain questions, and when we see that, "Hey, that's kind of strange. Wasn't your husband or wife on a business trip? Or weren't they in ... Well, that's kind of strange that there's some spending somewhere else," and we do a little bit of searching, we figure out that it's a credit card, maybe even another card, that's been given to the paramour.

Leh Meriwether:             Yes.

Todd Orston:                   Fireworks.

Leh Meriwether:             Big fireworks.

Todd Orston:                   Big fireworks.

Leh Meriwether:             And what's amazing is, even if this individual says, "You know what, I'll take 100% responsibility for that credit card. It's not part of the marital estate at all," they don't care. The emotions take over.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, you're right. Even if you're not trying to get the other person or make the other person responsible for the expenditures, it's creating fireworks which is thereby creating additional litigation and costs in your case.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. In that same vein, spending money on your paramour on gifts, on jewelry-

Todd Orston:                   Fantastic idea.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Vacations.

Todd Orston:                   Awesome. I mean, seriously.

Leh Meriwether:             Lingerie!

Todd Orston:                   Lingerie is ... I almost feel like we're on Family Feud. I'm waiting for like, "Survey says!" Ding! That's number one. Lingerie always, and I think a close two would be jewelry, three may be trips that you take, expensive vacations.

Leh Meriwether:             And it doesn't matter if you've been separated for a while, either.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, because there's a difference between you're spending money, which absolutely can come back and haunt you because the other party can say, "We're still married and you're burning through all this money and I'm going to ask the judge to give me an equal amount from the estate." There's that aspect of it, but then there's the emotional aspect that creates the fireworks and can just cause a case that really should settle quickly to turn into something far, far more-

Leh Meriwether:             A three-year battle.

Todd Orston:                   Exactly.

Leh Meriwether:             Or how about this? Or using your American Express points, so you're not living in the house, but you forget to change the address on your American Express card, and you order, through your American Express points, two round-trip tickets to Hawaii for your wedding.

Todd Orston:                   Now, that's curious.

Leh Meriwether:             And they show-

Todd Orston:                   Why did you need two seats? That's interesting.

Leh Meriwether:             And they show up at the marital home where your current wife is living.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. Yeah, well. I've also seen situations where the-

Leh Meriwether:             I wish I had fireworks special effects right now.

Todd Orston:                   ... things show up, and I've seen things be delivered to the wrong place and it's like, "Well, hey. Thanks for the jewelry," or thanks for whatever, you know? But yeah, bad idea when you're doing those types of things. Just understand, when you're sitting there and you've got the angel on one shoulder and the other guy on the other shoulder, and the other guy's like, "Do it. Do it. Get some, buy some jewelry. Buy some lingerie," and the other one's like, "This is going to cause some problems," right? You may want to pay attention, because we see it all the time. Not the two guys on the shoulders. We see the problems that it creates, and it does-

Leh Meriwether:             I would be worried about us if we did.

Todd Orston:                   Absolutely. I'm still worried about us, but ... anyway.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, so let's see. You know, another thing that may not necessarily be money, but you call up your wife and you ask for her to package up for you your tuxedo because you have a formal date coming up for your Christmas party at work.

Todd Orston:                   Uh-huh (affirmative). Yeah. Again, these are the types of things, and this is the type of behavior, that if you're looking to aggravate the situation, this is the kind of behavior that'll do it.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, and don't be surprised when you do get your tuxedo and it's torn to shreds.

Todd Orston:                   Which we absolutely do not agree with. That is improper behavior, can get you in a lot of trouble, and it happens all the time. So be very careful about those types of things, and jokes aside, and I mean it this time, damaging the other ... Because of the fireworks, because of that emotional reaction, okay, sometimes people do damage property. I am telling you right now, do not do it, because it could ruin your credibility in front of a judge.

Leh Meriwether:             Right.

Todd Orston:                   I mean, A, it's wrong, no matter what you're feeling.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, even though it feels right-

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, it can-

Leh Meriwether:             Or they feel like they deserve it.

Todd Orston:                   That's right. It can and will get you in some trouble. It's not going to go well, as much as you feel good because you tore up that tuxedo, I'm telling you right now, it's a bad idea.

Leh Meriwether:             Yup. So let's talk about some other stuff that can cause fireworks. We've talked about some other things. One thing that can set off fireworks is while your spouse is out of town or on a business trip, cleaning out the entire house, so they come home and there's nothing except for maybe a plate, a fork, a knife. No, I'm sorry. A plate, a fork, a spoon. No knife.

Todd Orston:                   No knife.

Leh Meriwether:             And maybe a bottle of water in the fridge.

Todd Orston:                   Was it a spork?

Leh Meriwether:             It was not a spork.

Todd Orston:                   All right, well, because that would've made the no knife thing a little more palatable.

Leh Meriwether:             There was a cup, but no coffee cup.

Todd Orston:                   All right. Yeah, we have seen that, and yeah, coming back to an empty home, and we've had clients, and I say clients, not client, come back to literally, it's like locusts just came in and just ate everything. It's just gone.

Leh Meriwether:             Including the food.

Todd Orston:                   Including food, sometimes there's a nasty note, just as an in your face kind of ... It's going to create huge drama, huge problems. A lot of times, the court's going to not be happy with that behavior and even force you to return the property.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. And you know another thing is, so let's say there's something that you never wanted in your marriage? Asking for it in your divorce settlement paperwork.

Todd Orston:                   Oh yeah. Or how about when we're totally almost out of time and we have to go to a break?

Leh Meriwether:             Up next, we're going to continue to talk about other things that could definitely create fireworks in your divorce.

                                         You know Todd, if we were playing the Family Feud right now, we'd be winning.

Todd Orston:                   Oh, absolutely.

Leh Meriwether:             Because we'd be hitting all the top things that will set off fireworks in your divorce.

Todd Orston:                   Especially since we're not playing against anybody. That's ... I hope we're winning.

Leh Meriwether:             Hey everyone, I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

                                         Today, we've been talking about the things that will set off fireworks in your divorce, and we've been having fun with it, but this is a serious matter, and we wanted to talk about all these things because sometimes people think, in the moment, they think some of these things are a good idea or the person sort of deserves it, but we're just letting you know that most of the time, these things are a bad idea and any time, from a monetary standpoint you think it's a good idea, when you calculate the attorney's fees you wind up spending because you increased the emotions in the divorce, you're usually at a loss.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, and also, right is right, wrong is wrong. I know that's a very simplistic comment, but usually a lot of these behaviors, when you're doing it, you know it's probably the wrong thing to do. You know it probably will have some kind of a consequence, and it does. Okay? Especially if there's a good attorney on the other side who's going to make sure that what you did is communicated in a way that does not really help you to the court, okay, there are going to be consequence. Sometimes those consequence can be very serious, like sanctions-

Leh Meriwether:             By the court, yeah.

Todd Orston:                   ... or it could just be that by the time, if you have to have a trial and you go in front of that same judge who hears all about that behavior, you have no credibility with the judge anymore.

Leh Meriwether:             Yes.

Todd Orston:                   And that can impact the ruling that you get from that judge.

Leh Meriwether:             So part of the reason, and we've said this before, part of the reason we use a lot of humor when we do these shows is because the humor, studies have shown humor actually helps people learn subjects and remember this stuff.

Todd Orston:                   All right, you just made me not want to be funny. You just sucked all the fun out of these jokes.

Leh Meriwether:             What? Just because I brought a little science to the jokes?

Todd Orston:                   And just to be clear, his jokes are meant to edumacate ... Man.

Leh Meriwether:             Do I really sound like that?

Todd Orston:                   No, but I have fun making you sound like that.

Leh Meriwether:             Okay. All right, well when we left off, I started to give an example but Todd said I was running out of time, about asking for something in a divorce settlement that you never really wanted in the marriage. Here's an example, I'll just use ... not that my wife and I'd ever get a divorce, but I'm a woodworker, and she's never really woodworked, so if we were getting a divorce and suddenly she says, "I want all your woodworking tools," I mean, that would be giving an excuse to buy new ones, but for most people-

Todd Orston:                   No, no, no. How about this?

Leh Meriwether:             But most people would-

Todd Orston:                   You have some collector or some, for lack of a better way of putting it-

Leh Meriwether:             Antique.

Todd Orston:                   ... antique tools that aren't easily replaceable.

Leh Meriwether:             That's true.

Todd Orston:                   Like the hand ... or hand ...

Leh Meriwether:             Hand planes.

Todd Orston:                   ... plane.

Leh Meriwether:             Yup.

Todd Orston:                   So there are things that mean a lot to you that aren't easily replaceable, and she would never use it, probably wouldn't even know what it is if she put it in a closet and picked it up a year later, she'd be like, "What is this thing?" Yet they ask for it.

Leh Meriwether:             I've seen settlement discussions almost derail because of something like that, so while that's not a huge firework, I do think it's ... because a lot of times it does come up, like in mediations.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. Now, understand what we are not saying is that ... We're not saying you shouldn't get credit for the value of property, all right? If we were talking about the hand planer, it doesn't mean ... I'm just using a number. If it's a $500 tool, does it mean that you shouldn't get $500 from somewhere else? No.

Leh Meriwether:             No. Mm-mm (negative).

Todd Orston:                   That's not what we're saying. But going in and saying, "No, you know what? I've always wanted to plane with my hands. I want the hand planer." All right, you know it's going to create a reaction. The more reasonable thing would be to say, "Look, I know you want that hand planer and some of these other tools-"

Leh Meriwether:             "And I also know there's a value to them."

Todd Orston:                   "I know there's a value. Let's come up with what the value is, and then I'll take an equal amount of other assets to make up for the value of those."

Leh Meriwether:             Yup. So sticking with the tools example, we've seen situations where people just take their tools for their trade. Mechanics are a good example. I've seen mechanics that make a lot of money, they are an employee of a shop, but they have their own tools that they take with them from job to job, and I think you've seen once where the guy comes home and all his tools are gone.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. Yeah, and that's a real problem. We're not talking about the casual weekend warrior that likes to do a little bit of tinkering in the shed. We're talking about somebody who they need the wrench set and the this set and the ... and now all of a sudden, they're looking at me going, "I can't go to work tomorrow because my one little Swiss Army knife ain't going to cut it when I have to fix whatever, you know."

Leh Meriwether:             A transmission.

Todd Orston:                   A transmission. So unfortunately, it creates real problems and that could impact income, it can impact a lot of things. So while you may feel like it was the right thing to do, it's going to create fireworks. It's going to create problems, and there's no need to do it.

Leh Meriwether:             Same thing with, we've seen this with someone's laptop that they use at work, and then so the other person takes it and says, "Well, I need it," and like, "That has all my work stuff and I have to give it back to the employer if I'm fired or I quit, so it's not really mine." So something as small as a laptop can create a huge, can create fireworks.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, and again, if we're talking specifically about a computer that you know was provided by your spouse's employer, then just understand with every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Well, actually, sometimes the reaction can be even-

Leh Meriwether:             Worse.

Todd Orston:                   ... worse. So understand that by doing it, it's not as simple as, "You took my computer. Well, that wasn't nice. Give it back." No, it doesn't stop there.

Leh Meriwether:             Where do all these voices come from?

Todd Orston:                   It doesn't stop there. Then the attorneys get involved, and there's a demand and you don't want to give it back. And then guess what? A motion gets filed. "Oh, it's an emergency or I need a temporary hearing because I must get that back, there's secret information, there's sensitive-"

Leh Meriwether:             Sometimes there is.

Todd Orston:                   Right, there's sensitive information. Oh, and by the way, it's the company's property. I've dealt with this before, and now all of a sudden, you are spending thousands of dollars, you could've bought five of the darn computers, for what it's going to cost you in litigation and at the end, you're probably going to have to give it back.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, and sometimes they think they have a good reason, "Well, there's evidence here of cheating," or something like that. Well, that may not be the right way to go about getting that evidence. All right, and before you do something like that, definitely talk to your lawyer.

                                         All right, let's shift gears a little bit. Let's talk about custody, things that will, when it comes to the children, things that will really set of fireworks. One of the ones that immediately came to mind was taking off with the kids while the other parent's at work or out of town.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, and when you say taking off, we're not talking about you took them to the grocery store.

Leh Meriwether:             Right.

Todd Orston:                   We're talking like you're in another country, or you are-

Leh Meriwether:             Another state.

Todd Orston:                   ... in another state. We have seen that before, where spouse goes to work, comes home, and obviously things have been rough, so not expecting a warm welcome, but maybe it's the same guy who came in to the empty house, no furniture. Oh, by the way, moved the kids and the furniture and the dog and the cat and the fish to wherever. Okay? If you don't think that's going to cause fireworks, well, you're mistaken.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Another thing is telling the other parent, "You'll never see the kids again." That is something that will ... You talk about you're going to have a guardian ad litem appointed or a custody evaluation appointed, you've just now majorly increased the costs of the case.

Todd Orston:                   Unless medically speaking, they have lost their sight, it is not a good thing to say. Yeah, unfortunately when it comes to divorce, what we're really talking about, with all of these scenarios, is emotion. Emotion kicks in and people can sometimes do things that are ... well, maybe that they shouldn't be doing. It's emotion that's causing you to act, and those actions, not only does it impact the other party and result in fireworks, but for instance, saying something like telling the other parent you'll never see the kids again, you are thrusting the children right into the middle of this fight. Okay? And so even though it's just a comment, if you don't think that the result is more stress, more strife, more conflict, probably in front of the children, then again, you're mistaken. So you have to step back, think about what you want to do, and hopefully cooler minds will prevail and you will think, not just in the moment, but you'll think about, "Okay, if this is what I do, this is what the probable reaction is going to be, and I don't know if I want to deal with that."

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, so take a deep breath, sometimes count to 10.

Todd Orston:                   Maybe 100 deep breaths.

Leh Meriwether:             True. And walk away if you need to.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             Avoid it. Another one that we find really interesting ... Well, this is like a grand finale type firework display. Bringing the children around your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Todd Orston:                   Great idea! Absolutely.

Leh Meriwether:             Is that the number one on the Family Feud, right?

Todd Orston:                   Oh, oh. That's like, we've just jumped to another studio and another game show and it's number one there, as well, with a-

Leh Meriwether:             Bigger award.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. That would be, there's a technical term, bad.

Leh Meriwether:             Up next, we're going to talk about just how bad, and other things that can set off fireworks.

                                         Man, I've had fun on this show. I like fireworks, though. Well, not really in the context of a divorce.

Todd Orston:                   Definitely not in the context of a divorce.

Leh Meriwether:             But I like them at the Fourth of July.

Todd Orston:                   You like shiny.

Leh Meriwether:             I like ... yeah. The Fourth of July, lots of explosions.

Todd Orston:                   But explosions a context of a divorce, not good.

Leh Meriwether:             Not good. Hey, welcome everyone. I'm Leh Meriwether and with me is Todd Orston. Todd and I are partners at the law firm of Meriwether & Tharp, and you're listening to Meriwether & Tharp Radio on the new Talk 106.7. If you want to learn more about us, you can always call or visit us online at atlantadivorceteam.com.

                                         Today, we've been talking about the things that you shouldn't do because if you do, they often or most of the time create fireworks in your divorce. We covered a lot of different things, behaviors, and we just started getting into issues surrounding the kids. Let's see, where'd we leave off?

Todd Orston:                   Bringing the children around the paramour, the boyfriend or the girlfriend. Whether you think it is right or reasonable, whether it is something that you believe would be or would not be healthy for the children involved, this is a show about fireworks. Okay? First of all, I'm not telling you that it would be appropriate. But what I'm saying is, if you want some fireworks, during the pendency of a divorce, introduce the kids to the boyfriend or girlfriend, because I can tell you almost without fail, it creates huge problems, creates huge fireworks that we, the attorneys, then have to deal with.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, and we're not getting into, this show, we're not talking about situations where it might be appropriate, which I think are very few, and then which situations where it is definitely not appropriate, which is the vast majority of the time.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, and we've both seen judges where the judges will be like, "Yeah, not right now," and some judges will issue orders, like let's say there was already-

Leh Meriwether:             This person shouldn't even be around them.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, that there's a girlfriend or a boyfriend, the judge will say, "I don't want that happening," and then I've seen potential violations of that and I've heard judges say, "I'm telling you right now, custody will change and if somebody's violating my order, I may actually put them in jail, so you need to listen to what I'm saying and what I've put into the order, and if that is don't bring the children around this boyfriend, girlfriend? I mean it." So-

Leh Meriwether:             Yup, I saw a judge literally when they found out about that-

Todd Orston:                   Flipped custody, yup.

Leh Meriwether:             ... flipped custody right there on the spot, without doing any more analysis. All right, so definitely, that's a big firework right there.

                                         All right, relocation. Telling someone, "Hey, look. I want a divorce. Oh, and by the way, we're moving to Alaska."

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. Yeah, and again, sometimes that's what you want, okay? And that's fine. We already talked about just packing up and in the middle of the night, leaving. Relocation, that might be your reality. It might be, "This is what I need, what I want." Okay, that's fine. Work with your attorney, come up with a strategy. Dropping a bomb like that, just, "How was work? Oh, by the way, yeah, I'm taking the kids. We're going," probably not going to go over very well. Not at least without there being some communication about, "Look, this my plan. This is what I've thought of. We'll work through the visitation. We'll work through the travel. We'll work through all these things. I want to work with you, hopefully you'll work with me," and hopefully, you're working with the attorney to come up with this strategy that won't result in the fireworks, but expect some fireworks.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. You know what? I can take the introducing the children to the boyfriend or girlfriend up to another level.

Todd Orston:                   I don't think you can.

Leh Meriwether:             I think I can. Having them move in to the marital home.

Todd Orston:                   Oh. Great idea! All right, sarcasm one more time. Yeah, we have seen that, where not only is there dating going on, but the decision is made to actually move that paramour into the home, where not only you are staying but where the child or children are staying. Not a good idea.

Leh Meriwether:             Not a good idea. Don't do it.

Todd Orston:                   You know what? If this is going to be that kind of a game show, all right, I'm going to one up you on that one.

Leh Meriwether:             No way.

Todd Orston:                   Oh yeah. Not only moving in or at the very least, spending the night, allowing the child to sleep in the same bed with the paramour in the bed with-

Leh Meriwether:             Okay, you win on that one.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, right. Exactly. Once again, ding ding. That is without a doubt number one.

Leh Meriwether:             I think that's your first point.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah. That has happened, as well.

Leh Meriwether:             Yes.

Todd Orston:                   And was it innocent, meaning as a parent? My wife and I, at times our children slept with us. Right now, my son is bigger than me and that ain't happening. Anyway, I was going to say something-

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, let's not go there.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, exactly.

Leh Meriwether:             Well, at different times, like there was thunderstorms out and they got scared.

Todd Orston:                   Exactly, and when they were young-

Leh Meriwether:             When they're young, yeah.

Todd Orston:                   And so I understand as a parent your desire, but if in that same bed is your boyfriend/girlfriend, I'm telling you right now, the next day, when little Johnny's with Dad and is like, "Oh, Mr. Bob was in bed with us," that ain't going to go over well.

Leh Meriwether:             No. Not at all. All right, I think actually there's one thing that can create even more fireworks than that. Falsely accusing someone of child abuse or sexual abuse.

Todd Orston:                   Yup. That's about all ... and that's all I've got to say about that. Yeah, and look, that's difficult. Right? Because if it's really happening or there's a real concern, I'm a former prosecutor, we're both parents, we're both human. Right?

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah.

Todd Orston:                   I don't want that kind of behavior to happen, and you need to do, as a parent, everything you can to protect your child or children. All right? But we hae also seen the situations where, and we've seen it with allegations, we didn't really go into allegations of physical abuse against you or abuse against a child or children. If it's true, you've got to do it. If it's not, it really is almost a shame on you moment, because you really shouldn't be going there.

Leh Meriwether:             And what people, they get caught up in the emotion of the divorce, the child says something that sounds odd, but children say things. They're also being subject to the stress of the divorce, too. So you've got to maintain that ... You can't just jump to conclusions, which we see people do all the time. We've seen people take advantage of a misstatement made by a child and then turn it into that, that causes the cause to ... I mean, just World War III, just way beyond fireworks at that point.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, because at that point, the other party has to defend themselves, and that is such an allegation, or the seriousness of that allegation is so serious, that it has to be looked at as fireworks.

Leh Meriwether:             We should have a whole show where we just break down those situations.

Todd Orston:                   I think we should talk about that after this one's done.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah, definitely. You know, another one that can really set off parents and create fireworks is making unilateral decisions when it comes to the children.

Todd Orston:                   You sound a little like ... unilateral. Unilateral.

Leh Meriwether:             Unilateral.

Todd Orston:                   But yeah, making unilateral decisions, meaning decisions without bringing into that conversation and that decision-making process the other party, does not go over well. End of story, all right?

Leh Meriwether:             And it could be everything from extracurricular activities, "Oh, by the way. I enrolled Johnny in soccer."

Todd Orston:                   Which may be a great choice for Johnny, okay? He has one leg, but whatever. He can ... No, that was bad. Sorry. But no, it might be the best choice for your child, but the fact that you didn't-

Leh Meriwether:             Include the other parent.

Todd Orston:                   ... include the other party, then it's a firework and you may not think of it that way. "Well, you know what? My spouse never made any of those decisions, and I just took care of enrolling in camps and enrolling in programs and enrolling for sports," but you know what? Times are now different. You now have to be aware that the other party's going to want to be kept involved, and making those types of decisions without the other's involvement, it's going to result in fireworks.

Leh Meriwether:             Yeah. Same thing with changing of school situations, making medical decisions without involving the parent. Suddenly saying, "Hey, I know I have been attending this church my whole life, but I'm going to switch religions and take our child to this new religion." Those kind of things, without any sort of discussion or anything, it will set off fireworks.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah.

Leh Meriwether:             You know, another thing is ... Gosh, we're almost out of time. I can't believe this. There's three more things I wanted to hit real quick.

Todd Orston:                   You've got a minute and a half, so you better talk quickly.

Leh Meriwether:             All right, I can talk real quickly. Ready? Here we go. No, anything that ... a perceived invasion of privacy. It may not be a real invasion, but a perceived. For example, you had previously been given the password of someone's email address. You go in there, you use that password, they had given you permission to check the email before, now you check it, and they've been communicating with their paramour and they are upset. That creates a firework. Even though it may not have been an actual invasion of privacy, it's a perception.

                                         Social media, posting all things-

Todd Orston:                   Huge.

Leh Meriwether:             ... about your divorce on social media. Huge thing.

Todd Orston:                   Yeah, I've got to tell you. That, we have seen some of the most incredible, and I don't mean that in a good way, incredible things said on social media, and I can tell you, the reaction's always the same and it creates a firestorm. So you have to be careful what you say.

Leh Meriwether:             Hey, this has been a great show talking about all the things that you should not do to avoid fireworks going off in your divorce, and that about wraps up this show. Before I leave, I did want to give a tip out there or a great thing that's coming up at Woodstock City Church. It's called Co-Parent Unscripted. It's on Monday, August 6th, from 7 to 9. It's only $5 a person, and it's an amazing thing if you want to work towards becoming a better co-parent and avoid fireworks in your post-divorce relationship.

Speaker 3:                        This audio program does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Meriwether & Tharp.