What to Expect When Divorcing a Passive-Aggressive Spouse

Preparation is key.

How to Divorce a Passive Aggressive Spouse
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Addressing conflict with someone who is passive-aggressive is never a simple situation. That means getting out of a relationship with someone who exhibits this tough personality trait may be a challenge.

If you're in the process of getting divorced from a passive-aggressive spouse, don't panic. While it might be difficult, there are plenty of ways to prepare yourself for what's ahead (even if it seems intimidating).

The key to getting through this arduous situation is to mentally get ready for your spouse's potentially passive-aggressive behavior so that if it strikes, you'll be ready. That means accepting that they might make the situation harder than it has to be and knowing how to save your energy for what really matters by putting yourself first.

Ahead, find out exactly what to expect from divorcing a passive-aggressive spouse (and how to deal with it).

They might act forgetful.

A passive-aggressive person may do frustrating things like forgetting court dates and forgetting to respond to interrogatories in order to potentially slow down the divorce process. When divorcing a passive-aggressive spouse, expect the process to take more time than usual and to cost more than you may have planned to spend. Understanding this before the process begins will help prepare you for what's ahead and keep you from losing your temper when things happen that are out of your control.

unhappy couple at dinner
Getty Images/JGI/Jamie Grill

They may have poor negotiating skills.

When it comes to negotiations, a spouse with passive-aggressive tendencies likely won't be the best at this part of the divorce process. They may want to mediate the divorce but then refuse to negotiate a divorce settlement. They also might agree to a settlement and then change their mind.

They may quibble over who pays how much for the mediator even if it was their idea to try mediation to begin with. Just as you may have had to do during your marriage, you could end up expending a lot of time and energy on solving unnecessary conflicts. If this is the case, the best thing to do is to focus on what you can do to make the process move along as seamlessly as possible.

If you have children, your spouse may want to fight custody.

Even if your spouse isn't actually interested in gaining total custody of your children, they may use fighting over this aspect of divorce as a way to punish you for the end of the relationship. This would be a very passive-aggressive move, but it's something to prepare for just in case.

Expect a custody battle but don't fear one. When push comes to shove, a passive-aggressive person will probably return to their old, self-defeating behaviors and might not even show up for court dates regarding custody. Remind yourself their negative behaviors aren't likely actually about your children. This can help you keep your cool if a difficult situation like this arises.

They may ignore court orders after the divorce is final.

Even after a divorce is final, a passive-aggressive person may continue to try to irk you with their frustrating tactics. For instance, if your spouse is ordered to pay child support, they may try to make payments very slowly or perhaps not at all. Additionally, if there are marital assets to be split, be ready to make a few trips back to court. Just as in marriage, a passive-aggressive person may be slow to follow through on anything they promised to do. All you can do is be ready for this type of behavior and fight for what's yours, even if that means more legal proceedings.

At the end of the day, there will always be the potential for a high conflict situation when divorcing a passive-aggressive spouse. The problems you dealt with during your marriage will likely only become worse during a divorce. However, knowing there is a battle ahead can help you arm yourself with information that will help you protect not only your legal rights but also your emotional health.

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