Divorcing a Difficult Spouse
Lester Aldridge offers calm, sensible advice for anybody in the New Forest facing the prospect of divorcing a "dificult" spouse
This latest article in the Life Matters series by Lester Aldridge recognises the daunting prospect of divorce at the best of times let alone when your spouse is difficult. Lots of calm clear positive advice is provided here. If this subject is of relevance to you do contact the Family Law team at Lester Aldridge for a free, totally confidential, no commitment initial conversation.
The Family Team at Lester Aldridge know that the prospect of divorce can be daunting, especially when your spouse is difficult and are known to be argumentative or belligerent. We have experience in helping clients through the divorce process by finding solutions that avoid further conflict and upset in the family home. Our Family Team are members of Resolution, which is a community of family lawyers who work with families and individuals to resolve legal issues in a constructive and non-confrontational way. We always have our client’s best interests in mind and pride ourselves on our family-focussed approach.
In this article we set out our advice for dealing with a difficult spouse during divorce.
First, instruct a solicitor
The first port of call when considering divorcing your difficult spouse should be to obtain legal advice. Your solicitor will be able to steer you in the right direction from the offset, and help you avoid unnecessary conflict.
This may seem like an obvious suggestion for us to make, however we have seen many cases that have come to us part way through a divorce, and the parties have argued between themselves for some time about how their finances should be dealt with. There is often a lot of negativity and upset and this could have been avoided by both parties instructing a solicitor and had advice about the approach the family court would be likely to take in their case. It is far more likely that your spouse will listen to a solicitor, especially if they are prone to narcissistic behaviour and consider themselves to be more knowledgeable than you. We also explain to clients that we are happy to be the ‘bad guy’ for you! By this we mean that you can always blame us and say you are simply following our advice to help your communication with your spouse, and that way you can have more of a ‘hands-off’ approach.
Now have a non-confrontational approach
Until the long-awaited ‘no fault’ divorce comes in, the divorce process in England and Wales will remain reliant on the blame-culture of having one ‘wronged party’. Currently, one spouse must accuse the other of ‘unreasonable behaviour’ or adultery, or otherwise face years of separation before a divorce can be granted (even if you both want a divorce!). Unfortunately, this can sometimes cause acrimony, as one party feels that the blame for the breakdown of the marriage is being laid entirely at their door.
This can be especially difficult when your spouse is being unreasonable or nasty. One of the ways we deal with this is by sending an initial letter to your spouse with the draft divorce petition, setting out your proposed examples of unreasonable behaviour in a non-confrontational way. This will give your spouse the opportunity to amend the examples before the divorce petition is sent to the court.
If your spouse is particularly difficult, you may also want to consider letting them be the petitioner and allow them to put the ‘blame’ at your door on the basis that the reasons for the divorce rarely impact the outcome of the financial settlement.
Do not allow yourself to be bullied
Just because your relationship has ended, it does not mean the toxicity between you has vanished. We often see spouses trying to bully their way into getting what they want through excessive emails, emotional blackmail and manipulation. The best way to deal with this is to tell your spouse that you will not discuss the divorce or finances with them anymore, and if they want to talk about it, they will need to go through your solicitor. This often prevents the awkward and difficult arguments spouses can have about their divorce, and leaves you to discuss the more important things such as the day-to-day arrangements for your children.
If you feel that your spouse is harassing you or becoming abusive, it is important that you seek legal advice immediately. The Family Team at Lester Aldridge will be able to give you the urgent advice you need to help keep you and your children safe. You can contact us on 0344 967 0793 or seek advice through our website here.
One of our top tips that we always recommend is to document everything. If your spouse is known to fabricate the truth, it is important that you document your conversations with them. We suggest that you keep your communications about the divorce and finances to email or text messages, so you have evidence of what was discussed or agreed. If you do end up discussing things over the phone with them, then send them an email or text afterwards to confirm what was said/agreed. The more evidence you have of what you discussed with your spouse, the easier it will be to refute their lies.
Our Family Team are here to support you through the divorce process, and they know that how you are dealing with it emotionally is just as important as the legal aspects. We can recommend excellent therapists to guide you through the divorce and help you cope emotionally. Please get in touch today on 0344 967 0793 to get advice on starting the divorce process.
Pictured is Samantha Edwards of the Family team at Lester Aldridge who wrote this article.
Free consultation on any legal matter
Lester Aldridge Solicitors are based in London, Southampton and Bournemouth - where the office covering the New Forest is situated conveniently close to the main Bournemouth train station. Their specialist teams in the various fields of law will be happy to advise and assist you, starting with a completely free initial consultation during which you can decide whether you feel able to trust them with your confidential information. For more information please click here. Consultations are also available via virtual meetings : advice is available through phone, email, Skype and Zoom.
Life Matters: Lester Aldridge Solicitors on a wide range of legal matters
Life Matters is a regular monthly feature on Lymington.com, which covers a wide range of legal subjects and is always written by one of the Lester Aldridge team. You can see a list of all published articles by clicking to the Lester Aldridge Solicitors webpage on Lymington.com here.