1. Anything you say can and will be used against you.
Recognize that every single thing you post to social media, as well as everything you text or email to your spouse, and potentially to mutual friends or family members, can become evidence and be used against you in a custody dispute. Limit your use of social media during your divorce and do not post anything you do not want to see blown up on a 2’ x 5’ poster board in court. Keep your text messages professional and limited to essential information – i.e. who is picking up the children, what time you are exchanging them, information about a child’s illness or school issue etc. Do not engage in name calling, use vulgar language or argue via text or email. While it might feel good in the moment, stop and think about what a judge is going to think about what you are texting. It will affect how a judge views your credibility when it comes time to decide who should have custody of the children.
2. You have the right (and obligation) to remain silent about your problems with your spouse and not to discuss those issues with your children.
Your children need to know, preferably via a sit down discussion with both parents at the same time, that you have decided to divorce because you no longer love one another, but that does not mean you are divorcing them. Emphasize that both parents will always be there for the children and both parents love the children and there is no need for the children to feel like they have to choose between the parents. Explain that both parents are committing not to say anything negative about the other parent and to support the children’s relationship with the other parent.
3. You have the right to an attorney.
While no one is going to pay an attorney for you in a family law setting, if you have questions and cannot afford to hire an attorney, there are resources available to assist you through the process. The Alaska Court System has a Family Law Self-Help Center where you can attend informational classes on representing yourself, obtain “fill in the blank” forms for almost everything you will need to do, and get questions answered. Many attorneys will agree to do short consultations and to assist you with specific issues and questions, without actually representing you in the divorce itself. This may be a cheaper option, particularly if you have just a few things you need assistance with. Depending on your financial situation, if you are trying to leave a relationship that involves a history of domestic violence, you can submit an application to ANDVSA for a pro bono attorney. If you qualify, ANDVSA will attempt to locate an attorney who will assist you free of charge.
On behalf of Hughes White Colbo & Tervooren, LLC posted on Thursday, May 8, 2017.