Divorce Brings Out the Worst in Us—Here's What to Expect from an Angry Ex

a woman looking out into the ocean

Lyuba Burakova/Stocksy

Emotions run wild during the divorce process. Every participant must be able to respond rationally even in the most irrational situations, or else the divorce will eat up more of your time, money, and sanity. 

Even if you do everything within your power to keep things at an even keel, your spouse may work to upend your peace. They may end up using tactics that some attorneys would call dirty in order to get the divorce to go their way. The best thing you can do is keep your cool, for both your sake and the sake of your children. 

To that end, you should arm yourself with knowledge of what might come your way. Doing this will help keep your expectations low which will help you respond to an irrational ex in a way that does not do more harm to your family. Below are some common tactics used by an angry spouse during the divorce process.

Accusations of Abuse 

It is fairly common for a spouse to getting a restraining order against the other without clear cause to do so. This is where false accusations of abuse may come in, alleging that the other has hurt them or their children. This will help the accuser to gain sole legal custody or to have the accused removed from the marital home. Guard against this happening by refusing to engage in any form of conflict in person, via email or over the phone.

If you become a victim of false allegations of domestic abuse, do not respond to the allegations in a manner that will make the situation worse. It is difficult to prove real cases of abuse, which makes a court operate with an abundance of caution even with little evidence. Name-calling or further lies will only hurt your case. 

Limiting Access to Marital Assets 

If you are a stay-at-home mother who is dependent on your spouse's salary, this could be an easy pressure point for your ex to hit. Financial dependence can be manipulated as a form of punishment during the divorce process. To keep this from happening, make sure that your name is on all marital assets before filing for a divorce. This includes all bank accounts, credit card accounts, and retirement fund accounts that you expect to draw from. 

If you believe your spouse will empty bank accounts, open an account in your name only and transfer funds you need to live on into your new account before having your spouse served with divorce papers. 

Using the Discovery Process to Delay The Divorce Process

During the discovery process, your divorce attorney will request documents from your spouse related to income and assets. A spouse can stall the process by refusing to respond to such requests. Or they may send a barrage of requests to you attempting to bog you down in paperwork. This delaying tactic may continue right up to his refusing to sign the divorce papers (although it should be noted that you don't need his signature to get divorced). 

To protect yourself from a spouse who will stall and use the courts to abuse you, hire an attorney who will not hesitate to use the Family Court System to force a response when a spouse uses such tactics.

Reneging on Verbal Agreements

Most people going through the divorce process work to make sure it is not riddled with conflict. In doing so they can make the mistake of believing that their spouse will stand by their verbal agreements. It is much safer to have a legal document drawn up and signed by both spouses and their attorneys, just to cover yourself.

Such 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 will have evidence that can be used as proof that your ex intended for a particular action to take place.

Asking For Full or Equal Custody

There are situations where a father will request either full or 50/50 custody to scare a wife into settling for less during divorce settlement negotiations. And she may be willing to take less than she is entitled to, if it means retaining full custody of her children. Your best bet is to offer split custody from the beginning. This takes away any leverage a husband can use and it is in the best interest of the children to spend equal time with two parents who love them.

Spying to Dig 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 is important not to reveal private or sensitive information publicly, such as among friends or on social media, as your words may be used against you in court. 

The quickest way to end up with an empty bank account is to fight dirty during divorce. If you keep it clean and refuse to fight “fire with fire” during this time your spouse’s dirty tricks will all be revealed in time.

Giving in and getting down and dirty yourself gets you nowhere and leaves a stain on your character that you will live with permanently. Take the high road, and don’t do anything you will one day look back on with shame. 

Related Stories