The Typical “Can” and “Cannot” Behaviors in a Typical Divorce
As attorneys, we field questions beginning with “Can I” and “Can they” every day. This is especially true with family law matters. The answers to these questions can be misleading or even dangerous when taken out of context or without elaboration. The simple answer may frequently be yes or no. However, it is important to expand upon the simple response and discuss the possible ramifications for certain actions.
Attorneys frequently say “you CAN but I would not recommend it.” The ultimate decision is up to the individual but full disclosure is important. It is impossible for the courts and legislation to create laws that would permit or deny every action. Even when there is a law in place, that does not always prevent the actions. We are all human and make many decisions every day. Some are admittedly better than others. People are arrested for crimes all of the time that they clearly could do but failed to think about whether they should. Family law matters are similar. Yes, your ex-husband can call you disrespectful names in front of your children. Yes, you can take your child out of state for the weekend without telling the other parent. Sure, your boyfriend of two weeks can spend the night on your weekend to have the kids. However, the court will frown upon all of those examples.
Family law is rarely black and white. It includes a very broad spectrum gray scale. While a parent or individual may not be legally prohibited from certain actions, we must always consider whether the actions are in the best interests of the children. Similar considerations need to be made on financial matters, even when children are not involved. The net marital estate is a defined part of a dissolution. Dissipating, moving or reallocating assets during a dissolution may seem like a good idea at the time but can greatly impact the final resolution of a matter.
Even when an action is not intended as a negative move, the unintended domino reactions can change an outcome. Failure to understand the consequences can result in undesirable court orders, including modifications to current orders or even sanctions. Many times clients are in our office not because they failed to ask if they could do something but because they did not follow-up and ask what would happen if they did. While family and friends are an important part of a support system for someone having disputes with a co-parent, their advice should not replace the legal knowledge of a family law attorney.
If you or someone you know has questions about can vs. should, Banks and Brower, LLC can assist. Give us a call at (317) 870-0019, or email us at email@example.com.