An assortment of tips for the divorcing parties from attorney Avivit Moskovich, expert in family law and divorce proceedings.

Maintaining secrecy
Maintaining secrecy is of decisive importance in a divorce proceeding. A divorce is difficult for couples emotionally, thus they feel the initial need to share with others. Notwithstanding, one must avoid exposing the steps you are taking to the people around you, especially before seeking legal advice from a divorce attorney.

Those who listen to your story are liable to, whether intentionally or not, divulge your planned legal steps to your spouse, thus thwarting the effect of surprise and any relative advantage you might have in the divorce proceeding. You can never know for certain which of your friends are on your side and which are on the side of your spouse.

Maintaining secrecy concerning your steps is essential, even in phone and/or online conversations. There is a possibility that your spouse has installed a recording device on your home phone, your mobile phone, or even your computer. Furthermore, you should be aware that your spouse could even be wearing a recording device on his/her body in order to record a conversation with you that could constitute legal evidence, such as a wife confessing to having an affair, etc.

Check your rights and your legal situation
A divorce proceeding involves a great deal of emotions that most people will be experiencing for the first time in their lives.

It is a long journey that requires the accompaniment of a knowledgeable and skilled professional, because no person can go through this alone. An individual with no legal education, or even one who has studied legal theory, lacks the practical knowledge needed and cannot manage the divorce campaign on his/her own.

Even a professional attorney who doesn’t specialize in divorces needs the assistance of a legal authority.

Therefore, at the outset of the crisis, it is important to engage the services of an attorney who specializes specifically in family affairs. Such an attorney will oversee and accompany the divorce case from beginning to end and pave a secure path—through shrewd legal advice and a correct, tailor-made strategy—until you arrive at the best possible result.

If you choose correctly, this professional you turn to will become a supportive and accepting individual who reflects reality and maneuvers the pieces on the chessboard for your ultimate benefit. An attorney specializing in divorce matters will sit with you, assess all of your rights, and explain exactly what those legal rights are.

For example, the attorney will verify: what your portion is in the pension rights of your spouse; whether savings accumulated by one of the spouses is legally shared and/or what your rightful portion is; what your portion is (if any) in assets fully registered in your spouse’s name, including real estate; whether rights and monies in separate bank accounts are legally divisible; whether the rights you’ve received through inheritance or as a gift are divisible, and if so, in what manner; whether it is legally relevant in dividing up property that one side has invested more money than the other in purchasing and/or renovating an apartment; and more.

Preparing and gathering evidence
Gathering background material and building an evidentiary basis—founded on information and photocopied documents attesting to property and rights of the second side and/or infidelity and/or mental or physical abuse—will assist in supporting your claim and achieving preferential status in primary issues of your divorce case.

Gather all possible information on the status of your assets and those of your spouse as well as material pertaining to his/her income. Upon discovery of your desire to divorce, such essential documents are liable to ‘mysteriously’ disappear.

If you are concerned that your spouse is about to file a suit against you, make every effort to take action ahead of him/her!
In managing a divorce proceeding it is important to constantly have your finger on the pulse. Preceding your spouse in taking legal action will give you precedence in the ‘jurisdiction race’ that takes place between the rabbinical court and family court. Doing so will allow you to manage your suit in the legal manner you have chosen.

In any case, consult with an attorney who specializes in divorce matters in order to win the ‘jurisdiction race’—because the prevailing opinion that it is always preferable for the wife to sue through family court and the husband to turn to the rabbinical court is not correct in all cases.

Don’t allow the debt balance in your joint account to increase
In most cases, a debt balance in the spouses’ joint bank account will be split between the sides since they are co-holders of the account. If you feel you are about to be sued for divorce, check whether there are exceptional expenses in the joint bank account/credit card. If you discover that this is indeed the case, you can contact the bank and instruct them, unilaterally, that all charges to the account must be with the consent of both account holders. This way you can prevent financial entanglement as well as traps set by the second side, which are sometimes intended to show a higher standard of living and therefore credit them with higher alimony payments and/or allow them to take money for illegitimate purposes, etc.

Remember that in a divorce each case is different.
Acquaintances, relatives or friends who have gone through a divorce will always try to give you advice based on their personal experience in a divorce. In most cases such advice does not suit the specific circumstances of your case. Taking any sort of action based on the advice of ‘those in the know’ is liable to cause irreversible damage and disrupt your individual divorce strategy. Therefore guard yourself against taking such advice, even if offered by people who have your best interest in mind. Remember: each case is different and each family is subject to different realities.

Don’t involve your children in the divorce proceeding
Avoid involving your children in a divorce conflict and do not express negative opinions about the other parent!

Remember: one way or another, the children are going through an extremely difficult time and there is no justification to burden them beyond this!

Furthermore, do not use your children as ‘battering rams’ against the other parent—this is a common mistake of parents that typically causes damage, frustration and even lifelong trauma to the children!

Do not bring the children into situation in which they must ‘choose a side’. Leave them alone because in any case they don’t have the tools to deal with the loss they are experiencing in the split of the family unit. What’s more, involving the children in the conflict will give no one an advantage in the divorce proceeding.

Place valuables in a safe place in order to prevent your spouse from concealing them
Occasionally, during a divorce proceeding, one of the sides will seek to enrich themselves and come out of the divorce with a larger share of the assets; alternatively, he/she will try to burden the other side. Thus it is a fairly frequent occurrence that the spouse will conceal valuables, be they of financial or sentimental value, such as jewelry, souvenirs and more.

Accordingly, we recommend placing all such items in a safe place that the other side cannot access for the purpose of concealing/taking them. Doing so will save you a great deal of mental anguish.

Do not turn to violence of any sort
No matter how difficult or painful divorce proceedings may be, it is forbidden in all cases to act violently against a spouse or the children. Resorting to violence can lead to a criminal file with the police as well as removal from the home for several months. It is also important to bear in mind that beyond the criminal prohibition against violence, violent behavior will have repercussions on the management of the divorce case itself.

On the other hand, we should point out that false complaints are occasionally filed with the police concerning ‘violence’ that never occurred. There are quite a few instances in which one of the sides has tried to use the false complaint as a weapon after which thorough investigation proves such claims to be totally groundless. Naturally, the side filing the false complaint is liable to suffer for his/her behavior from a criminal standpoint and also receive a fine through a civil proceeding.

For example, false accusations submitted to the police can lead to the filing of an indictment as well as a criminal record for the spouse. This can lead to the spouse losing his/her job and depriving him/her of the financial ability to bear the costs of alimony payments.

Be careful not to turn to violence, and certainly not to voice false claims of violence that never occurred. Remember that the repercussions of false accusations are liable to harm both sides in the long term.

Draw up a will in which you determine who inherits your property
Note that when you enter into a divorce proceeding, you need to change the beneficiaries of rights and draw up a will.

Often, the sides involved in a divorce are so preoccupied by the conflict that they ignore the fact that if one of them dies, the law states that the surviving spouse inherits half of their property. Therefore, it is extremely important for you to draft a will.

Remember that for divorced couples with minor children it is important to draft a will. Because in the event one of them dies, the law states that the minors are to inherit all of the assets; consequently, the surviving parent, as legal guardian, is liable to treat the monies in a way that would be disagreeable to the legator of the will. Accordingly, you can arrange your will to appoint a trustee of your assets on behalf of the children; it is he/she who will apportion the monies to them in compliance with your wishes.

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An assortment of tips for the divorcing parties from attorney Avivit Moskovich, expert in family law and divorce proceedings.

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