Let’s face it – we all want to look like we have it together and can perfectly manage our lives. However, the reality is that we all have strengths and weaknesses. No matter how hard we try to hide them, eventually our not-so-lovely behaviors rear their ugly heads. Other than very close friends, our spouses or partners are probably the ones with the most knowledge and experience with those behaviors. And, while the relationship is running smoothly, that is not an issue. But, when the relationship is ending in separation or divorce, your problematic behaviors may be used against you.
During a consultation with a family law attorney, you should be completely honest about any shortcomings that you may have or have had in the past that could influence a court’s decision. Some examples include a history of domestic violence or abuse, dependency or abuse of drugs or alcohol, poor decision making skills that tend to put you or others in danger, neglect of children, or a questionable driving record or dangerous driving habits. This list is not comprehensive and any behavior that you believe your spouse or partner could use against you should be reported to your attorney.
While your attorney cannot guarantee that the court will not hear about the behavior and use it in its decision making, he or she can assist you in finding ways to mitigate the damage. Your attorney might suggest you attend counseling, take classes to improve skills that are weak, participate in groups for drug abuse, alcohol abuse or anger management, or purchase organizational tools that help you stay on track. Any progress made toward correcting problematic behavior can be presented to the court for consideration.
If, on the other hand, you choose to withhold your issues from your attorney, any and all accusations coming from your spouse during a court proceeding could be a surprise to your attorney. As there may be no time to formulate a defense or introduce remedial actions you have taken, the court may be left to make a decision based on facts that may be less than favorable to you.
So, do yourself a favor. When you meet with a New Jersey divorce attorney to discuss your family law issues, be honest about your situation. Provide your attorney with all of the information regarding your case – the good and the bad. Then, listen to your lawyer’s advice and work toward correcting problematic behaviors before they impact your family law case.