Don’t commit one of the cardinal sins of divorce; it’s never a good idea to lie in order to come out on top in the end.
Telling the cops that your spouse hit you is not the right way to announce that you want a divorce or to get him or her out of the house. It’s a declaration of war, and your kids, family, and bank accounts will suffer in the ensuing firestorm. Unfortunately, there are many spouses out there who make the mistake of filing false charges.
I had a client who was granted an injunction, despite that the judge stated in his ruling, “if I had to sit as a jury and find that a battery occurred beyond a reasonable doubt, I don’t think I could.” In that situation, the clients were fighting, and my client was using her husband’s computer without his permission. Unfortunately for him, he put his hands on top of my client’s hands and removed them from the keyboard. My client was granted temporary majority timesharing, and, as often happens, when it came time for the final hearing, the judge did the easy thing and simply made the temporary timesharing final.
In another case, the opposing party, Lizzie, filed a petition for a temporary injunction and then quickly dismissed it. She was having an affair and wanted a divorce from her husband, Gil. A few weeks later, the two spouses had friends over for dinner and drinks. After their friends left, a drunk Lizzie left to get ready for bed, slipped on the hardwood floor, and hit her head hard on the bed post. She was bleeding badly, and she came out to the kitchen to tell my client.
Gil was extremely concerned, but Lizzie wanted to go to bed, to go to sleep, never a good idea with a head injury. Gil tried to insist that she go to the hospital, but she refused. He restrained her by the wrists to try to convince her to get medical attention. She needed stitches, and he was concerned that she might have a concussion and should not go to sleep. The clients verbally fought about it. Gil called their neighbors, their close friends, for assistance in getting Lizzie to the hospital. They agreed she needed medical attention, and they were finally able to convince her to go to the hospital.
Lizzie returned to the house that night and spent the night in the house with Gil. She stayed at the house the next day and night with Gil. Then, on Monday morning, she filed the injunction. As it often happens, when she was granted the injunction, Lizzie was also granted temporary majority timesharing. The clients were eventually able to settle their divorce, but my client agreed to much less timesharing than he would have liked because of the injunction. Eventually, though, when the boys were teens, they managed to move back in with their dad. These days, Lizzie is lucky to see them on the occasional weekend.
Instead of filing a baseless or untruthful injunction, be brave; talk with your spouse about a divorce at the kitchen table. Or invite your spouse to coffee in a public place to have that discussion. Or ask family to help you have that talk. Or ask your attorney to help you have that talk. Let one of us help you make that transition in a safe and healthy, honest and truthful way.
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About this week’s authors: Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as professor in law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.