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Who Keeps Your Friends When You Split? 

People may not think about it until after the fact, but what happens to your relationships with other people when a couple splits? It can be hard to decide who keeps a friend, or worse yet, friends who function as a couple, after you separate, especially when you have been together for many years. You can probably make an easy call when it comes to your long term co-workers, assuming you and your ex don’t work together, and pre-marital friends (like pre-marital separate property you owned before the marriage). Another safe guess might be family friends who have known your parents or other family members for years or decades. The more difficult choices are parents of your child’s friends, your church family, or neighbors. The court can’t award friends to the husband or the wife as it can with a bank account. You would be wise to do more listening than talking when you are in their presence.

The Problem: The Spy

Think twice about which “friend” you tell sensitive information about your separation, divorce or your new dating life. People are sometimes surprised to find the friend couple stuck with their ex, or the parents of their child’s friends. I call this type of friend “The Spy.” Spies stake out which person they will keep in the divorce, but they make it a point to stay involved with the other person to glean information they think would be helpful to the other person in court. For example, because the spy has continued access to your Facebook page that is unavailable to your de-friended ex, the spy may give your ex the printout to make a trial exhibit of you saying nasty things about him or her. Photos of someone doing something unflattering for purposes of a custody case are also popular with the spy types. They spy is also alert when you or the kids make inadvertent comments that could be construed as being about your new “boyfriend” or “girlfriend” and then shows up in court unexpectedly to testify against you. Maybe the spy testifies that your house was messy when they dropped by unexpectedly. You get the idea.  For any “friends” reading this article, beware. Gossip and the scope it travels may mean a sheriff walks up to you and hands you a subpoena. Another word of caution relates to family members of your ex.

Family Members

In a small percentage of cases I’ve had, a spouse may rely on the family of the other spouse for advice, perhaps filling the void in his or her own family. When a client tells me to subpoena the family members of the other party to testify on his or her behalf, I tell them that is a bad idea. There are exceptions, but don’t tell them intimate details of your life. Family is a lot like jurisdiction. In school, they told us that jurisdiction is based on someone’s permanent address; when you are down on your luck and have nowhere else to go, they are family and they “have to” take you back. Don’t put your ex’s family members in this situation because it is hard to have divided loyalty. Keep in mind who your friends are.



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