Although emotions often run high during the divorce process, it's important to approach issues calmly and rationally (even in irrational situations), so your divorce doesn't drag on any longer than necessary or cost more in legal fees than it should. But even if you're managing to keep your cool, it's totally possible that your ex might resort to the use of "dirty" tactics to win at all costs. But while your ex's actions are out of your control, there's power in preparing yourself for the fight, especially when you know your divorce is already contentious. If you aren't sure what to expect from an angry ex during the divorce process, we've rounded up some things to look out for to help prepare you.
Read on for some common tactics an angry ex might use during the divorce process.
Alleging Domestic Abuse
Surprisingly enough, it's actually fairly common for one ex to file a restraining order against the other without cause. But let's be clear: Although it's illegal to make false accusations of abuse, vengeful exes will employ this tactic to gain sole legal custody of children and/or have the accused removed from the marital home. Prevent this from happening by refusing to engage in any form of conflict, whether by phone, email, and in-person. If it's too late for that, don't respond to the allegations in a way that will make the situation worse. Although it's difficult to prove real cases of abuse, the courts will operate with an abundance of caution—even with little evidence. Know that name-calling or responding with a "tit-for-tat" mentality will only hurt your case.
Limiting Access To Marital Assets
If you're, say, a stay-at-home mother and your ex was the breadwinner, they can exploit your financial dependence by using it against you. So before either of you actually file for divorce, be proactive by putting your name on all joint marital assets, including bank and credit card accounts and any retirement funds you expect to draw from.
If you believe an angry ex will drain your joint bank accounts (and neither party has filed for divorce yet), open a new account in your name and transfer adequate funds to live on.
Reneging on Verbal Agreements
Many people going through the divorce process work to make sure it's not filled with conflict, but that doesn't mean a spouse will stand by any verbal agreements the two of you had made. It's much safer to have a legal document drawn up and signed by both spouses and their attorneys, just to cover yourself.
A document can be used in court to prove a spouse’s intent to take part in a verbal agreement. If push comes to shove, you'll have evidence that can be used as proof that your ex intended for a particular action to take place.
Delaying The Divorce Process
During the discovery process, your divorce attorney will request documents from your spouse related to income and assets. An angry ex can stall the process by refusing to respond to these requests. This delaying tactic may continue right up to his refusing to sign the divorce papers. To protect yourself from a spouse who will stall and use the courts to abuse you, hire an attorney who will not hesitate to force a response when an ex uses such tactics.
Asking for Full (or Equal) Custody
There are situations where a spouse will request either full or 50/50 custody to scare their partner into settling for less during divorce settlement negotiations. Your best bet is to offer split custody from the beginning. This takes away any leverage your spouse can use and it's in the best interest of the children to spend equal time with two parents who love them.
Digging up Dirt
It may seem far-fetched, but vindictive exes are capable of anything. Stalking and harassment should be reported to the police, and your guard should be up at all times. It's important not to reveal private or sensitive information publicly, such as among friends or on social media, as your words can be used against you in court.
Sheehan E. Using Rule 11 Sanctions to Punish Accusers Who Make False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse in Custody and Divorce Cases: Rule 11 Sanctions and False Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse. Fam Court Rev. 2019;57(1):121-135. doi:10.1111/fcre.12400