This has been one of the most unusual presidential elections of my lifetime – or perhaps any lifetime – in large part because of Donald Trump’s participation in it. For my generation, Donald Trump’s name has become synonymous with the catch phrase, “You’re Fired,” coupled with some sort of photo of him pointing with a look of disdain. In fact, my husband and I have been known to indulge in a little bit of reality television when we want to unwind.
With our large exposure to Donald Trump over the years, you would think that we would be accustomed to seeing his face on television. However, this is simply not the case when it comes to Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. One of the biggest concerns about Trump as a candidate is his uneasy relationship with the truth. In fact, the current presidential election has become quite the big talking point in many offices around the country, including here at the Law Office of Lisa Vance.
We think there are some lessons to be learned from Trump from the family law perspective, specifically, how not to act when you are going through a divorce.
Let’s pretend that Donald Trump is going through a divorce. For this purpose, we can imagine that all of his public speeches are his testimony on the stand in a typical divorce proceeding. When Trump speaks, it’s always about projecting confidence and bravado, to either cover up a lack of knowledge about a topic or to contradict an earlier assertion without looking like he’s backtracking. This is a very far cry from typical political spin, which all candidates have fallen prey to.
However, Trump’s small mischaracterizations tend to mislead the public, resulting in this grown-up game of telephone, in which the more a message is spread from person to person, the more it changes. Such is the case in a divorce proceeding, particularly a divorce involving children. Both parties are often worried about preserving their image before the court, that sometimes situations are mischaracterized, often making the proceedings that much more difficult.
So what should people going through a divorce learn from Trump’s example? First, the obvious advice is to always be truthful, but in order to do so, you have to know the correct information and as my mother would say, “think before you speak”. Secondly, be honest with your attorney. By producing information about your assets, your debts, your conduct during the marriage, and anything else that might be called into question should the case go to trial, your lawyer will be best prepared to fight for you. Often times both parties are worried about protecting their own interests or looking bad in front of the court, and they tend to sometimes stretch or exaggerate the truth.
You may be tempted to engage in Trump like spin in order to appear more together. Even if you feel that you have good intentions for “spinning” an issue, whether it be children that you’re trying to reassure, your lawyer, or even on social media, engaging in Trump spin inevitably results in backfire.
For Trump, his every word is being scrutinized by those who want to trip him up. For you, in a divorce case, you need to always keep in mind that your spouse and their lawyer is always waiting to pounce on any slip of the tongue that you may make, and you don’t want to make his or her job any easier.
In divorce, as in life, honesty is always the best policy. However, you must think before you speak – in fact, we’ll talk about decorum in our next lesson from Trump. Remember, not being truthful can do damage to your case in the short term, and your co-parenting relationship with your ex in the long run.