Here's What To Expect When Your Divorce Negotiations Become Ugly

Updated 04/14/19
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Nothing makes divorce more difficult than negotiating with an angry ex. How your spouse behaves during divorce settlement negotiations will have an impact on whether or not you get a fair divorce settlement. Unless of course, you're able to head him/her off at the trail. 

Even if you knew your ex to be kind and respectful, those traits do not always apply in times of turmoil. You may have always known each other in a loving or honor-bound context, but with divorce proceedings on the horizon, all bets are off. You must adjust your expectations to how they will react with those negative feelings swirling around them. 

During a marriage, we feel a sense of responsibility for the well-being of a spouse. For some, divorce takes away that sense of responsibility and it becomes about protecting their own interests at the expense of their soon-to-be ex. If you want to come away from your divorce with an equitable settlement you need to anticipate how your spouse will choose to “defend” his/her position during the process and whether or not the process will mean a drastic change in personality traits.

Just because your spouse was not aggressive during the marriage doesn’t mean they won’t be during divorce. 

Behaviors That Can Predict What Legal Strategies Your Spouse Will Use During Divorce

Financial Power During the Marriage

Will your spouse attempt to swoop down and take all the spoils? Was he/she the top earner in the marriage? Does he/she have legal connections? Has he/she hired an adversarial divorce attorney with a reputation for engaging in high conflict divorce?

If your spouse was the one with the power during the marriage, divorce isn’t going to change him/her into someone willing to give up their power. If anything, divorce will make them more relentless when it comes to retaining both financial and emotional power over you.

If your spouse has big money, hires a big name divorce attorney more than likely he/she is gearing up to litigate to the death. If it is at all possible you should arm yourself with the same legal arsenal and attitude.

Emotional Instability

No one is more dangerous during divorce than a spouse who has come unglued emotionally. If your spouse is not able to let go of negative emotions and use logic during this time then, if you are not careful, you are in for trouble legally. You will need to take into consideration that you are attempting to negotiate financial issues with someone who is not thinking and behaving rationally.

All bets are off with this kind of person. They are so unstable that they can’t take care of their own financial welfare let alone put much thought into what might be in your best interest. You will not only want a qualified divorce attorney, you will need to consult with a psychologist who is able to help you understand your spouse’s irrational behaviors.

Your Spouse Wants a Divorce Right Now

Here is an example of the “right now” divorce that can leave you reeling emotionally and financially. Your spouse is having an affair; he/she is in love and chomping at the bit to build a new life with the new love interest. They, of course, are going to want to take as much with them when they leave the marriage as possible. Building a new life with the other man/other woman can be money intensive and you should expect and prepare for a battle during the divorce process.

On the other hand, the spouse who gets dumped for the new love can attempt to drag out the divorce process by dragging out the process of litigation. He/she may try to wear you down, make you wait as long as possible to start building your new life in anticipation that they will come away with a sweeter financial settlement. In some cases, a spouse’s desire to move on quickly can be used against them in favor of the left behind spouse.

If you don’t want to end up living from pay check to pay check post divorce you need to strategically prepare for divorce based on behaviors you are seeing in your spouse. If your spouse is behaving like an enemy you need to take up arms and use any weapons at your disposal.

How To Protect Your Legal Interest During Difficult a Divorce Settlement

  • Know how property and debt are dealt with in your state during divorce. This will take doing some research but, it will be worth the time and effort.
  • Don't be intimidated by your ex's behavior. You will go into divorce settlement negotiations with your ex on the same footing. You both have the same rights. Don't allow yourself to buy into threats about "taking the children" or, "leaving you destitute." An angry ex likes to intimidate by threats. Don't reply to threats! Take them to your attorney and let him/her deal with your ex.
  • Don't attempt to intimated your ex.
  • Don't go in expecting more than you have a legal right to. He may have cheated on you, that doesn't mean he will pay your bills for the rest of your life. 
  • Leave your anger out of settlement negotiates. Divorce is a business matter. There is no place for emotions in the process. Take your emotional pain to a therapist and your legal issues to your lawyer.
  • Don't let your attorney talk you into settling for less than you know you have a legal right to.
  • Never sign a divorce settlement agreement without reading every word and feeling satisfied that the settlement is fair. 

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