Trash-talking an Ex During Divorce Can Hurt a Settlement

Texas residents who are going through a divorce are probably getting used to people telling them to refrain from saying anything bad about their ex in public. This often-repeated bit of advice is a good one, especially when the divorcing couple is parents. However, there is another reason to avoid overdoing it on the trash talk: It could hurt one’s chances for a favorable divorce settlement.

A recent case helps illustrate this point. In a high profile, high asset divorce, a judge awarded a woman 17 percent of the value of her ex-husband’s prestigious law partnership after finding that she had damaged the value of the business by denouncing her ex in the media. The judge wrote that without her public attacks on the man, the ex-wife would have received closer than half the $5 million value of the partnership. The judge noted that both parties behaved badly during their long-running divorce dispute.

This case is unusual in many respects, and it follows the rules of another state. However, it does illustrate some important points applicable to Texans who are considering divorce.

At the end of any Texas marriage, the parties must list all their assets. From there, they and the court must determine a fair division of the marital property under the state’s community property law and the court’s determination of what is fair under the circumstances.

This is seldom a simple process, but for high asset couples with complex assets such as retirement plans, stock options and ownership stakes in businesses, the property division phase of a divorce can be time-consuming and difficult. The fact that an asset was listed in only one spouse’s name does not necessarily mean that the other spouse does not have a claim to part of its value. Actions that harm the value of an asset during a divorce could end up hurting the finances of both ex-spouses.

Divorce can be a very emotional process, and it can be hard to refrain from expressing frustration or anger at an ex. Texas attorneys with experience in high asset divorce can help their clients to concentrate on financial matters during a divorce so that they can be free to move on to the next, happier stage of their lives.

Source: New York Daily News, “Upper East Side woman gets less in divorce from lawyer ex because her public accusations hurt his business: judge,” Barbara Ross, Dareh Gregorian, April 8, 2014

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