What Should I Expect from an Angry Ex-Spouse During the Divorce Process?

Most people going through divorce hope their ex-spouse will remain civil throughout the process. However, everyone handles divorce differently. The most agreeable partner can change when it is time to discuss visitation schedules or divide marital assets. Dealing with hostility at every turn can feel overwhelming and defeating. It is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when every call or text leads to a battle.

There are countless reasons why an ex-spouse may be angry about the divorce. It could be they are still in love and never wanted the split, or they do not want to pay alimony. Some blame their ex-spouse for a divorce agreement they think is unfair. The following are common ways irate partners tend to lash out:

Stall the Divorce: A bitter ex-spouse might do all they can to delay the inevitable. They may refuse to submit required documents or stop responding. They can also request extra paperwork from the other side to make more work and slow things down. A divorce lawyer’s job is to oversee the divorce process and keep things moving quickly and efficiently. If stalling becomes a real problem, a lawyer can reach out to the other attorney or go to family court, if necessary.

Back Out of Verbal Agreements: Agreements made in peaceful times do not always stand up when things get heated. As soon as something is agreed upon, get it in writing. Even something as seemingly minor as who pays for the children’s school supplies or where they will spend the Thanksgiving holiday needs to be documented. Facts are hard to dispute when they are in writing.

Ask for Custody: Any parent knows the easiest way to punish an ex-spouse is to keep the children from them. As sad as it may seem, for some parents who push for custody, it is less about the children and more about hurting the other parent. If that does not work, they may resort to manipulating the children to turn them against the other parent. In these situations, ask for joint custody from the start; this reduces the opportunity for the children to be used as leverage, and it guarantees children will get balanced time with each parent.

Make Allegations of Abuse: In highly contentious divorces, a spouse may falsely claim the other abuses them or abuses the children. Every abuse allegation needs to be taken seriously to ensure the safety of all involved. Family court judges do not take bogus allegations lightly and may consider them when deciding child support and custody matters. The accuser has the burden of proof to provide evidence of abuse. If the claims are untrue, they have nothing to show. Always remain calm and collected during interactions with an ex-spouse.

Block Access to Marital Property: As soon as one spouse brings up divorce, it is not uncommon for the other to immediately block access to shared assets. Both partners should always be involved in the household finances. Before even filing for divorce, conduct inventory on all joint assets, accounts, and other property to prevent anything from being hidden.

Undergo Emotional or Physical Abuse: Divorce is a traumatic event, and some people struggle to process it a rational or peaceful way. They may lash out and abuse their ex-spouse or the children. Any type of abuse is unacceptable and must be promptly addressed. Take urgent action anytime physical, verbal, or emotional abuse enters the equation. Call the police if someone’s life is in danger and get to a safe place as soon as possible. If children are involved, take them to a trusted friend or family member’s home and notify the authorities. Document abuse with texts, emails, and photos.

Tips for Dealing with an Angry Ex-Spouse

The following provides general guidance for diffusing tense encounters and staying positive before, during, and after the divorce is final:

Create Healthy Boundaries: Every adult needs to advocate for themselves. Setting clear and firm boundaries is one way to do this. If an ex-spouse is sending nasty emails or leaving threatening voicemails, send them to the divorce lawyer.

Keep Communication Productive: Unless ex-spouses remain good friends after the divorce, it is best to keep conversations to practical matters. Whether that is a child’s hockey schedule or their recent doctor visit, stay positive and non-confrontational. If the discussion turns to the past, steer it back to the issue-at-hand.

Keep Friends and Family Separate: Ex-spouses’ lives are so intertwined, it can be hard to figure out how to interact with in-laws, friends, and neighbors after divorce. Lead by example and be discreet about sharing private details with others.

Make Time for Self-Care: Going through a particularly ugly divorce takes a toll mentally and physically. Be sure to make time to restore peace of mind and counteract the chaos of dealing with an unpredictable ex-partner. Whether that is spending time with a friend, going for a run, or just sitting down with a good book, self-care is a good prescription for stress.

Consider Therapy: Therapy offers a safe space to express feelings and learn healthy coping skills for the future. Being heard and validated by a caring and compassionate professional can be immensely healing. Working through tough feelings now helps those divorcing to move forward without fear and emotional baggage. To find the right therapist specializing in divorce and family matters, check online reviews and ask friends and family for recommendations.

Trust the Divorce Lawyer: The right divorce lawyer is able to relieve some the burden from their client so they can focus on taking care of their daily needs. A divorce lawyer advocates for their client every step of the way so the divorce process can proceed in a timely and productive manner.

In the final phase of an unhappy marriage, it is normal to feel angry. There might be a history of infidelity, lies about finances, or incompatibility. However, every adult has a choice about how they manage that anger. Unfortunately, anger does not magically go away once those divorce papers are signed. Refer to these strategies often for reminders on how to avoid heated battles and model peaceful communication with an ex-spouse.

Morristown Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Resolve Disputes for Clients Going Through Divorce

If you are dealing with an angry ex-spouse, you are not alone. Our Morristown divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates P.C. have seen firsthand the range of complex emotions couples feel when the marriage ends. Our job is to protect your rights and interests during every stage of the divorce process. To schedule an initial consultation, call 908-575-9777 or submit an online inquiry. Located in Morristown and Somerville, New Jersey, we work with clients throughout Madison, Randolph, Woodbridge, Rockaway, Parsippany, Randolph, Madison, Short Hills, and Morris Plains.