What Can Be Used Against You in A Divorce in Minnesota?
Going through a divorce can be an extremely difficult and emotional time. Even in no-fault divorce states like Minnesota, your behavior and actions during the divorce process can still be used against you. It’s important to be aware of how your conduct, as well as other evidence, could disadvantage you when it comes to issues like child custody, visitation rights, spousal maintenance, and property division.
Having an experienced Minnesota divorce attorney on your side is crucial to help protect your interests. They can provide guidance on what to avoid doing and how certain evidence could negatively impact your divorce case.
14 Things That Can Be Used Against You in Divorce:
There are many tactics and behaviors that your spouse can use against you during divorce proceedings. Being aware of what can be used against you is the first step to protecting yourself and your family during this difficult time.
Here are 14 key things that your spouse or your spouse’s divorce attorney can use against you in divorce court:
1. Adultery and Infidelity
While Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don’t have to prove fault or wrongdoing to get a divorce, adultery and infidelity can still be used against you. Your spouse’s lawyer may try to highlight adulterous behavior to portray you as an unfit parent or someone who wasted marital assets on an affair.
Adultery is one of the few grounds that allows a judge to award more than 50% of the marital assets to the innocent spouse under Minnesota statute 518.58. Your spouse would need strong proof you committed adultery, such as photographic evidence, testimony from a private investigator, written communication, or your own admission.
Even if definitive proof of adultery is lacking, just the suspicion or appearance of cheating can damage your credibility and negotiating position in a divorce. Being open and honest with your
Minnesota divorce attorney can help you navigate this sensitive issue.
2. Social Media Posts
Your social media activity always leaves a trail that your spouse can potentially use. Incriminating photos, inappropriate messages, and even just venting negative feelings about your spouse may cast you in an unfavorable light.
Your spouse’s lawyer can request social media content during discovery. They may also subpoena your posts and messages. What you choose to share online during your divorce could end up being seen by a judge, so it’s wise to refrain from oversharing.
3. Hiding Marital Assets
Attempting to hide assets like bank accounts, investments, real estate, and other property is illegal. Under Minnesota statute 518.58 subd. 1a, spouses have an obligation to fully and accurately disclose all marital property and debts.
If you’re found to be concealing assets, a judge can penalize you by awarding a greater share of the marital property to your spouse. The court can also hold you in contempt, which could mean fines or even jail time in extreme cases. Don’t let greed or spite tempt you into hiding assets, as it will likely backfire.
4. Excessive Spending
When a divorce is underway, it’s common for one spouse to start overspending from joint accounts. This financial infidelity, known as “dissipation of marital assets,” can work against you. The court may find you squandered or intentionally wasted marital property that would otherwise be subject to an equitable split.
Under Minnesota statute 518.58 subd. 1a, a judge can order you to repay the marital estate for expenditures deemed inappropriate or excessive. Keep spending modest and proportional to your regular household budget until your divorce decree is issued.
5. Spending Marital Funds on a New Partner
Along with excessive spending in general, using marital money to fund a new relationship is also frowned upon by Minnesota courts. Judges don’t look kindly on spouses financially supporting a new boyfriend, girlfriend, or love interest while still married.
Not only does it show a lack of commitment to the marriage, but it can also constitute misuse of marital assets. The court may interpret this as grounds to award your spouse a larger share of the property distribution. Keep marital funds strictly separate from new relationships until your divorce is finalized.
6. Failure to Pay Court-Ordered Support
If you’ve been ordered to pay spousal maintenance or child support, staying current on those obligations is crucial. Under Minnesota statute 518.6111 subd. 13, failure to pay can damage your credibility and be counted against you when determining:
- Child custody arrangements
- Parenting time or visitation rights
- Future modification of maintenance or support
The court wants to see if you can financially provide for your children and soon-to-be ex. Avoid falling behind on support payments, or you may lose negotiating leverage regarding other divorce-related issues.
7. Texts and Emails
Text messages and emails sent during your divorce can also be used as evidence, even if you think they were private conversations. Your spouse’s attorney can request copies of texts and emails during discovery. Angry, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate messages won’t reflect well on you.
Additionally, voicemails, chat logs, DMs, and other written communication can potentially be subpoenaed and used against you. Be mindful of what you put in writing before your divorce decree is issued.
8. Domestic Violence and Abuse
In Minnesota, domestic violence, abuse, threats, intimidation, and other similar behavior toward your spouse are not taken lightly by divorce courts. Physical, verbal, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse all demonstrate you may be unfit to have sole or joint custody of your children.
The court considers domestic abuse when making child custody determinations. Any records of violence, abusive behavior, or involvement of police or social services will work against you in a divorce.
9. Drug or Alcohol Abuse
If drugs, alcohol, or other substance abuse contributed to the breakdown of your marriage, this is something your spouse’s divorce attorney may highlight. A proven pattern of excessive drinking, drug use, or addiction can be used to portray you as unreliable, financially unstable, and unable to care for your children.
Evidence of chemical dependency hurts your case for gaining custody. Seek professional treatment and demonstrate sobriety to offset any accusations of unhealthy addictions.
10. Mental Health Issues
Similarly, any mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and other issues that affect your ability to parent could be used against you. Your spouse may try to depict psychological disorders as making you an unfit or negligent parent.
Seeking therapy, anger management, parenting classes, or other appropriate treatment can help overcome claims you are unable to care for kids due to mental illness. Make your health and your children’s best interests a top priority.
11. Refusing to Cooperate on Divorce Proceedings
If your spouse’s attorney can demonstrate you have been uncooperative in settling divorce matters and complying with court orders, judges tend to frown on such behavior. Your willingness and ability to cooperate is a factor in custody decisions.
Petty refusals to negotiate or dragging your feet on signing divorce papers could be used to portray you as unreasonable and not acting in the child’s best interests. Take the high road and finalize legal separations as amicably as possible.
12. Making False Accusations About Your Spouse
While going through a tough divorce, it can be tempting to try to cast your spouse in an extremely negative light by fabricating or exaggerating accusations. However, making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims about abuse, neglect, dishonesty, or other misconduct usually backfires.
Not only could such behavior constitute defamation, but judges consider a parent’s willingness and ability to cooperate when determining custody arrangements. Stick to the facts so you maintain credibility.
13. Moving Out of State With Kids
Under Minnesota statute 518.175 subd. 3, you must notify your spouse in writing if you intend to relocate your children out of state. Unless permitted by the court, you cannot move kids more than 100 miles away without providing this notice at least 45 days in advance.
Doing so without adequate notice is considered “interference with custody” and can result in contempt of court charges and even arrest warrants in some cases. Abide by all visitation schedules and legal formalities when moving long distances.
14. Lying to Court or Withholding Information
Perhaps most importantly, you should ensure any testimony, affidavits, financial disclosures, and other legal statements are completely honest and accurate. Lying under oath or intentionally withholding material information from the court could constitute perjury, which is a criminal offense under Minnesota statute 609.48.
Even if your dishonesty doesn’t rise to official perjury, any lack of candor will undermine your credibility in the eyes of the court. Always be forthright with your attorney and during legal proceedings. The truth will serve your best interests.
Let a Minnesota Divorce Lawyer Help You Today
Going through a separation or divorce raises many daunting legal questions. The choices you make could impact your family and finances for years to come. Don’t let something from your past or present be used against you. Get proactive advice from a knowledgeable Minnesota family law attorney as soon as possible.
The skilled divorce lawyers at Martine Law serve clients across the Twin Cities metro area and statewide. They can evaluate your unique situation and provide strategic counseling focused on your children’s best interests. Contact us to set up a free initial consultation. With an experienced attorney guiding you, you can protect yourself and your family.