Duncan Calder, former KPMG senior partner and head of its W.A. forensic services and valuations business has seen how bullying, lies and high costs can sometimes result in unfair outcomes in divorce proceedings.
Have you considered - “Is my spouse bullying and lying to rip me off?”
DEALING WITH A BULLY
Calder, who runs the boutique forensic services and business valuations firm, Contour Capital, notes that bullying, lies and tight finances can sometimes intimidate one spouse so that he or she never uncovers the fair value of the family’s asset pool during the divorce proceedings.
If your spouse was the one with the power during the marriage, divorce isn’t going to change him/her into someone willing to give up their power. If anything, divorce will make them more relentless when it comes to retaining both financial and emotional power over you.
The more anxious you are to get it done, the more willing you will become to give your spouse anything and everything, just to get your divorce over with. There is something very sad in caving in to conclude a settlement quickly to find that in 12 months’ time, you resent the compromises you have made.
The difficulties created are worse if the ex is toxic or narcissistic.
Calder advises spouses facing bullying:
“Don't be intimidated by your ex's behavior. You will go into divorce settlement negotiations with your ex on the same footing. You both have the same rights”
Don't allow yourself to buy into threats about "taking the children" or, "leaving you destitute." An angry ex likes to intimidate by threats. Don't reply to threats! Take them to your attorney and let him/her deal with your ex.
You can’t control your spouse. Even if you were able to control your spouse during your marriage, once you start down the road of divorce you can kiss any thoughts of control good-bye.
If your spouse is telling you that you are never going to get a dime in the divorce, or that you are a home-wrecker and your kids are going to hate you forever, or any one of the thousand other horrible things that angry spouses yell at each other when they are hurt – don’t listen! Hang up the phone. Leave the room. This is not productive conversation.
DEALING WITH A SPOUSE WHO LIES IN COURT AND IN COURT AND MEDIATION DOCUMENTS
When you are dealing with a spouse who is willing to lie to attorneys and the court, protecting your rights can be difficult without an attorney and you can, unintentionally, make yourself look vindictive. Hiring a lawyer can help you understand the best way to present your evidence, protect your rights, and ensure that your spouse does not get a divorce settlement based on lies or misrepresentations.
There are no solutions for personal disagreements in a law court or in a lawyer’s office.
The discovery process is a good way to get financial information from an uncooperative spouse because the court has the power to compel compliance. For example, if your spouse fails to produce documents, you can ask a judge to order your spouse to do so. If your spouse disobeys the order, a court may punish your spouse by imposing a “sanction,” which can include monetary fines or even a judgment against your spouse on a particular issue.
A business-owning spouse may be so inclined to protect his or her own financial interests that he or she may commit fraud. A business owner going through a divorce may attempt to conceal or transfer assets, understate revenue, or overstate expenses. If you or a client suspects such behavior, you may also require the assistance of a forensic accountant.
Making the disclosure that your former spouse engaged in tax fraud can theoretically open the door to the depletion of marital assets. Furthermore, the disclosing spouse may implicate him or herself in the alleged tax crimes.
COSTS OF THE PROCESS ARE INEVITABLE – BUT CAN BE MANAGED
Lawyers charge by the hour. The court system is notoriously slow. These two factors can create significant costs. Divorce is going to take longer and cost more than you ever imagined. It is going to be more emotional and more difficult than you want. If you know that from the start, and you don’t expect it to be fast or cheap, you will be way ahead of the game.
Even if your spouse has been kind, considerate and respectful, don’t assume that those character traits will carry through to the divorce process. If you want to come away from your divorce with an equitable settlement you need to anticipate how your spouse will choose to “defend” his/her position during the process. And, whether or not the process will mean a drastic change in personality traits. Just because your spouse was not aggressive during the marriage doesn’t mean they won’t be during divorce.
Calder provides a final warning on the dangers of social media during a divorce: with the ubiquitous nature of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, it is also important to remain professional online. If possible, keep all the details of your divorce and separation agreement off the Internet. If you do make any posts referencing your divorce or soon-to-be ex-spouse, avoid venting, ranting, or name-calling. These posts can easily reach your spouse or his or her attorney and be used against you in court.
Duncan Calder, based in Australia, sees that the role of forensic specialists, like Contour Capital, is to uncover the truth and endure that the Court is aware of the true financial position of parties to divorce proceedings.