Spouse Baiting

Mark Alexander

Mark Alexander

Mark Alexander writes:

During a divorce, your spouse or the other attorney may say or do outrageous things to goad you. Some people deliberately “push your buttons” to cause an uncharacteristic response, inviting you to sink to their level. To the extent they succeed in provoking an emotional reaction, they win. The judge may view both angry submissions as similar, or the one who retaliates may be blamed instead. He who slings mud loses ground.

To the extent you show your upset over their misbehavior, even after the divorce, they continue to have power over you. Don’t give them that satisfaction. When confronted by an outrageous statement or behavior, resist the short-term satisfaction which a quick retort may bring. Think of a judge looking over your shoulder; how would s/he want you to react, and consider how to document the truth.

In a difficult divorce with a hostile spouse, when possible, make communications in writing (including email), and always keep a copy. Avoid phone or personal contacts with your spouse alone (how would a judge decide whose version was true?) Try to have someone else present as a witness: the more reputable and unbiased the better.