Often, in the heat of a contentious divorce, one side or the other resorts to "dirty tricks."
These are nasty practices, most of them illegal, that individuals undertake out of greed or vengeance.
We do not advise any of them - but it may be wise to ensure that a vindictive spouse does not succumb to the temptation.
1. Emptying the house
When you are away for a weekend, your spouse has movers come in and empty the house - furniture, appliances, everything. You don't have a bed to sleep in, or covers to hide under. This action amounts to a declaration of war. Doing this during property division is illegal.
2. Ruining your reputation
There are many ways you can be framed for committing an unlawful or disgraceful act--online, in a letter to your employer, a call to the police, a report to the IRS. It is a scorched earth tactic, good for only one thing - revenge. The last thing you want to do to a soon-to-be ex is ensuring their poverty.
3. Buying lots of stuff
Some spouses seek to gain an advantage by running up huge credit card bills. This can be done very sneakily, making huge purchases the day before the divorce is signed. If you agreed to pay bills up to that day, you could be stuck with the debt.
Your spouse can have you investigated in many ways. They can hire a private detective to see what you are up to. Or they can check the history in your browser to see where you've been. They may be seeking to show that the divorce is your fault. It may be the most illegal of all these dirty tricks.
6. Cashing out the bank accounts
There are situations where this can be legal - when there is concern that you are about to abscond with all the money. In most cases, however, it is just unwise. The perpetrator will wind up paying through the nose for this thievery.
7. Wrecking your relationships
If you have been seeing someone outside the marriage, your spouse can confront that person, or spread the word to their families, friends, and employers - just to spread the pain around.
8. Taking the kids out of state
Again, relocating can occur in situations where the family is unsafe with your spouse, or it is necessary for economic reasons. But there is a removal process to deal with such actions. If your spouse does it without the court's approval, a crime will have been committed.
9. Ripping up plastic
While you are away - preferably in another country - your spouse cancels all your shared credit cards. Very funny - you are stranded abroad, with your visa about to expire. When judges hear about such behavior they become a bit less impartial.
10. Hiding assets
The great danger is that your spouse has been squirreling away money in offshore accounts, or is operating a business you are not even aware of. Thankfully, it is harder to hide assets today, where most banks are obliged to report their holdings.
Learn more: Answers to your questions about divorce.