In our Dirty Divorce Tricks blog series, we go over common plays that spouses do, in hopes they can receive a custody or financial gain or even to try to maintain their losses. In this blog, we will go over how some spouses will obtain copies of documents, attempt theft and reckless spending during the event of a divorce.
In anticipation of divorce, it is common for parties to gather evidence against one another. This evidence may take the form of text messages demonstrating an affair, financial statements proving excessive spending, or documentation of substance abuse. However, attempts to gain copies of information (and particularly attempts to share it with others) without a spouse’s consent can carry real civil or criminal penalties. If you anticipate entering a divorce suit, ensure that your financial, social media, and email accounts are protected by secure, confidential passwords. If accounts are unprotected, a spouse may argue that they are shared, and therefore did not require consent to access.
Theft of Physical Documents
Given that financial and healthcare statements are frequently mailed to a couple’s home address, it is often straightforward for a spouse to claim a right to their contents. However, there are exceptions to this principle. As a result of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), spouses must seek approval before disclosing healthcare records to an attorney or court. A court will strongly sanction HIPAA violations and spouses should refrain from disclosing protected health information without consent. Contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss ways the discovery process can enable you to legally and ethically acquire a spouse’s protected health information.
Extreme spending on luxuries like gambling, vacations, paramours, will be strongly frowned upon by a court. Parties to a divorce who choose to spend assets in this way risk being found to have wasted community funds. Following a successful waste claim, a court may order that an offending party use separate property to reimburse the community estate. If unable to do so, a court may hold this behavior against him or her during final financial settlements.