Red flags can mean the start of battle, wildfire risk, or dangerous swimming conditions. One of our favorites: the bright red Bravo flag of the International Code of Signals1 means you’re carrying explosives. In divorce, red flags fly up for all sorts of reasons. Here are the biggest red flags that could be fluttering in your future.
Your Wife Hasn’t Hired a Divorce Lawyer
You’ve done your homework; you spent time gathering information, researching a good local law firm, and you hired a divorce attorney. Your wife, meanwhile, has not. The reality of divorce is difficult for some spouses to accept.
You might think you and your lawyer can walk all over her, dictate divorce terms, and waltz out of court free and clear. Not true.
Your attorney is actually handicapped by the lack of an opposing attorney. Virginia’s legal process is an adversarial system; it requires two sides. On top of that, Virginia’s divorce laws are not always intuitive. She may feel her “equitable” share during property settlement is exactly 50 percent, while your attorney argues for downward adjustments.
Without an opposing counsel, negotiations can stall. Her ignorance of the law will not help you.
The Parents Aren’t Keeping Best Interests in Mind
In Virginia family law, the best interests of the children are held above all other interests. Your financial interests, your wife’s emotional state — nothing compares to the needs of your children.
A huge red flag can rise in relation to your children. Perhaps your wife does not want to discuss custody, visitation, or support. Perhaps she is already trying to use your own children as a blunt weapon against you.
Anytime either parent diverges from Virginia’s perspective — that the adults will unfailingly act in the best interests of the children — you need a good, alert family law attorney by your side.
Your Wife Has Left the State
A potential red flag in a Virginia divorce is the ZIP code of both parties. Say you two agreed to a separation, during which time your wife (remember, during separation you two are still married) moves out of state. That is a red flag that signals increased complexity. You need an experienced attorney familiar with handling Virginia divorces with one out-of-state party who can preserve your jurisdiction.
You Are, or Were, a Military Servicemember
A big red flag should go up, rippling in a strong wind, if one or both of you is active duty military. Military divorces are more involved, though not for the reason some Virginia men think — you are not asking the military branch to handle your divorce (that is itself a common and big mistake). No, the main challenges with military divorce are:
- Your posting
- Your retirement benefits
- Her benefits as your spouse
Again, turning your divorce over to a Virginia lawyer experienced in military divorce is the safest way to protect your rights and preserve your financial future.
Your Wife is Uncooperative, or Becoming Uncooperative
Perhaps your wife understands, as you do, that your marriage is over. She seems amenable, but then when you ask her to meet for an appointment, or to sign a document that you previously agreed to, she finds ways to keep you at arm’s length. It is not necessarily a contested divorce, but she is not doing anything to move the process along.
Be wary if she refuses to sign any papers, from the property settlement agreement to financial documents to resolutions about your children and their eventual living arrangements. Be especially wary if she agrees aloud by telephone or in person to something you two have discussed, but when the time comes to put pen to paper, she balks. And of course you should be wary if she puts the pressure on you to sign a separation agreement without first allowing you and your lawyer to review it. No contract (agreement, settlement — call it what you will) is valid until both parties sign it.
The red flag here may actually give way to the green flag, the one that signals “Go!” for a contested divorce. She is uncooperative and stringing you along, so stop indulging that behavior. Pursue a contested divorce, realizing that your costs will rise sharply. Then again, so will hers.
Your Wife Wants Revenge
Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold. If your wife seems hell-bent on seeking revenge, meting out justice, or exacting a heavy toll from you, that behavior is a Ft. McHenry-sized2 red flag.
Despite her outward actions, she is not interested in justice, fairness, or a quiet exit. She is angry, defiant, hurt, or unwilling to accept the reality of divorce, you need a good divorce lawyer to run interference for you.
Avoid the headaches and potential heartaches of being put through an emotional wringer with every telephone call to your wife. Push the burden onto your lawyer and seek out a good therapist or counselor. Take a yoga class. Distance yourself from the negativity.
No White Flags Here! Call The Firm For Men
If you see red flags flying in your divorce case, do not hoist the white flag of surrender. Call The Firm For Men at 757-383-9184 or contact our offices online. You can also check out our Red Flags free divorce consultation tool. We may not remember the International maritime signal flag alphabet, but we can help you recognize and react rightfully to all the danger signs of a messy divorce. We vigorously defend the rights of Virginia’s men in all aspects of family law. We are ready to help Yankee-Oscar-Uniform.