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Divorce, Trust but Verify

When threatened with divorce, a leopard can change his stripes, with a coat of very temporary paint.  "I'm divorcing you," is often met with, "But I'll change." Sometimes that change is heartfelt and well intended.  The effort and duration of that change is not the purpose of this post. The veracity of the proffered change is.

"But I'll change," sometimes means, "I wasn't quite ready for the divorce.  I need more time to move all the money." Or, "Divorce me?  But then who will wash my laundry so that my clothes are clean when I slip out for my date?

I know I sound cynical, but frankly, after 25 years of practicing family law, while I haven't seen it all, I've seen pretty much all of it.  And this does happen.  And it happens often enough to be entirely forseen.  (Remember the scripts we all play out in our marriages?)

So when you are met with an apparently earnest promise of reform, of walking the primrose path, you are entitled to and should demand an open book.  Pretend you are from Missouri.  "Show me everything."  And don't leave your demand open ended.  Don't let them define what everything is, list it, itemize it and let that list expand as you are resolve whether there is nothing further which compels your concern.

But what do you do with the spouse who promise of reform is a stall or is a mere subterfuge? I've seen well hidden accounts, multiple phones, myriad aliases.  How do you uncover all of those?  

  • First, the demand is the same, "show me everything."  But then you are looking for a trail that tails out to the horizon, is not followable.  That is a huge clue. 
  • Next, find someone who can be your independent nose for whether an answer or excuse passes the smell test.  Our desire to believe can fool our own nose all too often. 
  • Finally, if something doesn't pass the independent smell test, it is almost certainly time to bring in the experts, a private investigator or a full time family law attorney who knows how to pull up the rocks that these snakes like to hide under.

Ultimately, though, remember that, while there is significant comfort in uncovering the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, your attorney should keep you constantly reminded that in the end, resolution is mostly a math problem.  In other words, be very circumspect before you spend good money after bad, and even after a bad spouse.

Michael Manely

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