February 19, 2014

Nasty Things That Spouses Say to One Another in Divorce, but Shouldn't

How to speak to your spouse while divorcing her.

During my decades of practice in divorce cases, I repeatedly have heard many of the same unproductive threats, objections and protests that people say to one another in their contested family law matters. Experienced attorneys from Jupiter to Wellington know that many of these are urban legends or empty threats: not true but often believed by the inexperienced. 

Family law practitioners in Florida often know that during a divorce people get angry and they say things that they don't mean. However, such statements can cause anxiety and fear. I hope that my explanations for some of these "urban legends” in family law will lessen the concern or anxiety they may cause if they are accepted at face value:

  1. "I'll quit my job before I'll pay that much support". This statement is usually an attempt to bluff or force you to accept a lower amount of support. Ask your attorney whether you should "call this bluff". Document the statement immediately. Write down the date, circumstances, and exact words used. If the threatening spouse sent this to you via email or text or letter, then save this communication for use as evidence later. Judges do not tolerate this kind of bullying;
  2. "It doesn't make sense for us to be paying two lawyers; it's a waste of money that we could otherwise keep. Let's just both use my attorney". Aside from the obvious legal conflict of interest for your spouse's lawyer to represent both of you, the spouse making this plea wants to control you in the dissolution of marriage process by controlling how much advice and information you get. Don't fall for this ploy. Legal advice and representation may not be inexpensive, but often its value is priceless;                                                                                                   Schedule a Personalized Divorce Assessment With an Attorney Today!
  3. "You'll never see the children again". This threat is usually an attempt to get you to stay in a relationship that has long met its demise. Florida law and the law of other states presume frequent and continuing contact with both parents is a good thing for your children. So this statement in itself doesn't constitute a legitimate threat;
  4. "Your attorney is just running up your bill with all these documents he's demanding that I provide. Call him off". Any dissolution of marriage attorney is going to need to see and review documents which relate to you and your spouse's financial situation. Otherwise, the attorney can't advise you in what you should expect or demand. You need to rely on your lawyer's guidance on this issue;
  5. "I'll go to jail before I pay alimony or child support to you." Jail time is among the several tools the judge has available to enforce his or her support order, but it is seldom necessary. This threat is a common bluff; however, the reality of jail time is an effective tool in causing a delinquent spouse to generate past due support. In addition, for anyone with a paycheck, it is easy enough to extract support payments involuntarily from their employer per a court order. In any event, please remember that most people just pay the support which the court has ordered;
  6. "I'll litigate you into bankruptcy. I'd rather pay my lawyer all our money than pay one penny to yours". It is true that many spouses use this threat hoping that you will give up and concede to their demands. While it is unfortunate that some people use this type of tactic, there are legal techniques to stop a spouse from going forward with this threat. A good attorney can push a case forward to trial. The court also can sanction a delaying spouse for using these tactics;
  7. "You have no right to take what's mine away from me. The pension is all mine, I worked for it". This threat usually refers to a pension earned by the complaining spouse. Florida and most states clearly indicate that pensions earned during the course of the marriage belong to both of you. Your request for half of the amount of the pension earned during the marriage is there and the law entitles you to it;

These threats from a disgruntled spouse seem to boil down to one concept: An attempt on the part of the speaker to control the other partner and/or control the direction and outcome of the dissolution of marriage. The best way to avoid that is to seek out the advice of an experienced family law/dissolution of marriage lawyer. To review other similar urban legends, please click here.

Also, our website offers some tips as well, check out the section Divorce Overview


Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding dissolution of marriage while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss dissolution of marriage in Florida, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A.The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. or call 561-478-0312.



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