How to Defeat Sneaky Divorce Tactics Through 19 Proven Strategies

9 Sneaky Divorce Tactics and 19 Ways to Defeat Them

Sneaky divorce tactics include tactics about financial issues and child custody.

Sneaky financial divorce tactics

The most common are:

  1. Artificially reducing income to give the false impression of a lesser ability to pay support.
  2. Lying about income by accepting it in hidden ways such as cash, cryptocurrency, or more.
  3. Hiding assets, sometimes through schemes with family, friends, or business partners.
  4. Falsifying documents to make it appear the spouse does not have an ownership interest in an asset.
  5. Not disclosing business opportunities in which the community estate has an interest.

Sneaky child custody tactics during divorce

The most common of these are:

  1. Falsely claiming a desire for increased parenting time to reduce the child support obligation.
  2. A parent pawning off their parenting time with the children to family, but not reporting it.
  3. Making false allegations of abuse or neglect.
  4. Slowly and increasingly alienating children from the other parent.

Are there more deceitful and sneaky divorce tactics?

There are more than what we listed, but the tactics we list above are the most common and the most effective if the victimized parent does not take proper action.

How do you fight against these sneaky divorce tactics?

Spouses who engage in misconduct during a divorce often think they can get away with it. If you are in a high conflict divorce against a person like this, your diligent and logical approach becomes essential. Divorcing a narcissist or, even worse, sociopathic spouse means setting aside your emotions. Otherwise, you are going to play right into your spouse's divorce tactics.

Here are at least 10 ways to defeat your spouse's devious financial tactics during divorce.

Insist on a complete preliminary declaration of disclosure, including attachments. 

Too many spouses and their lawyers lack diligence regarding a preliminary declaration of disclosure.

A preliminary declaration of disclosure is a set of forms, documents, and attachments.

It discloses all assets and debts regardless of whether they are community or separate property.

The preliminary declaration of disclosure also discloses all income and expenses. A schedule of assets and debts (FL - 142) and income and expense declaration (FL - 150) are part of disclosures, although there are alternative options to the FL - 142.

Insisting on a complete and accurate preliminary declaration of disclosure is a good way to impress upon your spouse you will not tolerate their tactic of inaccurate or incomplete disclosures.

And suppose your spouse refuses to do it right. In that case, the law gives you the right to file a motion with the court to compel the disclosure and seek sanctions (attorney's fees you incurred) against your spouse.

Do not waive the final declaration of disclosure.

Spouses often mutually waive the final declaration of disclosure. The California Family Code allows that.

We do not care for this practice, and we make this clear to the clients we represent.

Waiving the final disclosures is an especially dangerous practice if you suspect your spouse is not honest about assets, debts, income, and expenses. Insist on the final declaration of disclosure.

Why would you allow a spouse who you suspect is engaging in such deceitful tactics to get away with not making complete disclosures?

Have personal and business tax returns carefully reviewed.

Tax returns may contain valuable information, especially in higher asset estates. Your spouse may think you are not sophisticated enough to understand the intricacies of the estate. This belief system motivates them to engage in tactics designed to hide that information from you.

Your spouse is wrong. You are more diligent than that.

Tax returns often contain information about different sources of income, including those you may not know existed because your spouse "handled the finances" during the marriage, and you did not read joint tax returns carefully at that time.

Subpoena your spouse’s employer.

If your spouse's strategy is lying about the different types of income they receive from their employment or retirements, stocks, and benefits available, a subpoena to their employer should get you what you need.

Subpoena your spouse’s financial records from the source. 

You have several sources of information here. You can subpoena your spouse's CPA or other tax professionals. You can subpoena bank records, other financial institutions with whom your spouse does business, credit card companies, and more.

Your spouse's intention may be to hide information. However, we doubt your spouse will be able to convince independent financial institutions and other professionals to help.

Subpoena your spouse’s business records.

Suppose your spouse is a business owner or has a financial interest in one or more businesses. In that case, you can subpoena each business to obtain the financial information you need. The subpoena includes income information and the nature of your spouse's interest in each business.

Your spouse's business partners or professionals your spouse knows well may collude with your spouse. However, that becomes harder if you diligently go after such financial records and even take depositions of those partners or professionals.

Engage liberally in discovery. 

You can serve a request on your spouse to produce documents, interrogatories to get answers to questions, a request for your spouse to admit specific facts as true, take your spouse's deposition, and much more.

Requiring your spouse to produce documents and information under penalty of perjury is an effective way of forcing them to do the right thing or take a big risk of the punishment that may come from lying under oath.

It is hard to be "sneaky" with divorce tactics when a person is called out on it and forced to comply or else.

Hire a forensic accountant.

Hiring a skilled and experienced forensic accountant can do so much for you in combatting your spouse's sneaky divorce tactics.

Forensic accountants can review financial records, value businesses, determine cash flow for support purposes, explain the marital standard of living in your case, trace community and separate property, and more.

They also work closely with your lawyer and state what information they need to complete their analysis. Your lawyer can then get it.

Hire a private investigator.

Private investigators are helpful in divorce cases where a spouse engages in improper divorce tactics. They can conduct asset searches, skip tracing, and more.

Hold your spouse accountable through sanctions requests and contempt actions.

If your spouse is still not taking the process seriously, you have several options. You can file a Family Code 271 sanctions motion, a contempt action for violating court orders (including violation of standard family law restraining orders), a breach of fiduciary duty action, etc.

Fighting against tactics that hurt children

Any parent who engages in serious misconduct that hurts children or the other parent's relationship with children is an awful person.

And these are exactly the types that engage in physical abuse, emotional abuse, make false allegations of abuse or use the children as leverage on financial issues.

Let's look at 9 ways to defeat nefarious tactics of such parents on child custody issues.

Do not settle for something that you know is not in a child’s best interest.

More than a dozen times each year, we speak with a potential client who tells us they felt their prior lawyer "forced" them into a custody agreement they did not want to sign. They ask us if we can help them set it aside.

We tell them what we are telling you. Nobody can force you to do anything.

If you entered into a settlement you believed was not consistent with a child's best interest, you made a bad choice.

Make better choices. Do not ever feel or be pressed to sign anything you do not want. Have the courage to go to court with a skilled family law attorney.

Do not ignore warning signs.

"Hopefully, it will stop" or "it will get better" are words many parents speak until too late. If the other parent engages in misconduct that hurts the child, take it seriously.

Document the other parent’s offensive conduct toward you to the children.

Documenting it includes doing so with the other parent directly. Texts, emails, or co-parenting applications like OurFamilyWizard and TalkingParents are effective ways to document misconduct.

Your lawyer can also document it with the other parent's lawyer.

Get child custody experts involved when necessary.

Suppose your spouse is engaging in misconduct related to the children. Your case is complex enough to justify a private child custody evaluation or appoint a lawyer for the child or children. In that case, your lawyer can request one or both.

However, this should not be the default move just because the other parent engages in sneaky or dirty divorce tactics regarding custody issues.

Sometimes, a custody evaluation or the appointment of a lawyer for children can slow the process down and make it more expensive.

If you already have compelling evidence against the other parent, ask yourself why you need either.

Do not delay filing a modification of child custody or parenting time if the facts merit it.

Divorce tactics that hurt children are hard to hide. You often see them because the children either tell you or you see it.

Letting it go and delaying a custody modification proceeding may send the wrong message to the court - that you are not taking the misconduct seriously. Do not send that message - Act.

Hold the other parent accountable for false allegations of child abuse outside and inside the courtroom.

Family Code 3027.1 and 3027.5 are great examples of the tools the law gives you. Suppose a parent makes knowingly false allegations of child abuse. In that case, you can seek supervised visitation for that parent and significant monetary sanctions against them and anyone else who made the false allegations.

Hold the other parent accountable for violations of a court order through a contempt action.

Contempt actions are a powerful tool against parents who violate court orders. Parents often engage in sneaky or dirty divorce tactics by violating court orders. And they do it because they think they can get away with it.

They will not get away with it if you file a contempt action. And the other parent may soon find out through fines, community service, and even jail.

Document and take court action when you see the parental alienation.

If you see parental alienation, then act on it. If you let it fester, it may get to the point where your bond with the children will break, especially if you are not the custodial parent.

Consider parallel parenting as a viable alternative to co-parenting when dealing with a high conflict parent.

We wrote an excellent guide on parallel parenting, and we hope you read it. It explains how this alternative to co-parenting can work in situations where the parents cannot co-parent.

Seeking parallel parenting provisions can save you a lot of stress.

Contact us to speak about how we can hold your spouse accountable.

Contact us when you are serious about handling your divorce the right way.

We have the experience you need with complex or high conflict divorces.

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