While there are many couples that are able to get divorced in an amicable way, that’s unfortunately not the only path that a divorce can take. Sometimes, spouses will use sneaky divorce tactics in order to harm the other spouse financially or emotionally.
Divorces can get nasty for a number of different reasons. Whether it has to do with infidelity, financial problems, emotional difficulties, or something else entirely, there are some instances where one spouse (or both) decides to make it their highest priority to get more than their fair share out of the divorce or to punish their soon-to-be ex.
If you’re getting divorced and there is bitterness, animosity, and tension, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for signs that your partner might be playing dirty tricks.
Let’s take a look at seven sneaky divorce tactics you should watch out for.
One dirty trick that spouses can play as a part of separating is spying on one another. Spouses can also spy on each other in countless ways, including:
It’s important to understand that the method through which you spy on your spouse can hurt your divorce case. You might think that your efforts to spy are just what you have to do in order to collect evidence against your spouse. However, how you obtain the evidence you put forward is very important in terms of whether or not the evidence will be admissible.
If it comes to pass in court that you gained access to data that was password protected, for example, this is considered an illegal act as it endangers their privacy. Other actions that you should avoid during divorce due to the problems it can cause you in court include:
If you believe that your partner is cheating and you want to obtain proof of adultery, there are ways to go about this legally. You can do this by accessing shared data, accessing public information, or hiring a private investigator.
The division of marital property and financial assets is one of the biggest points of contention in countless divorces. Understandably, there can often be hard feelings during the process of divorce on the part of at least one spouse. This can lead them to try and keep more of the marital property to themselves or at least spitefully deprive the other spouse of their fair share.
Though it can be tempting, it’s essential that you never hide assets when you are getting divorced. You are both legally required to disclose all of the assets you have, which include anything with real value or future value.
In a divorce, one spouse might try to hide their assets by lying about their marital property. They might do this by understating, undervaluing, or straight-up hiding their assets.
Another tactic is to report a lower income than they actually receive or to overstate debts.
However, it’s important to understand that this isn’t just potentially immoral, but it is definitely illegal. When you sign the Financial Affidavit, you are swearing that you are being honest about your finances. Having a skilled divorce lawyer can help ensure that you aren’t breaking the law in your efforts to protect your rights and interests.
Are you getting divorced in Texas without a lawyer? This can help you save a lot of money, but it's really only a good idea if you and your spouse agree on all of the divorce terms. If you're interested in getting a DIY divorce in Texas, check out our guide here.
If one spouse in a marriage relies on being a signatory to their partner’s credit cards, it’s possible that the cardholding spouse could cancel the cards to cut off access to funds. If you worry that your spouse might leave you out in the cold, you might consider taking out credit cards in your own name before taking the step to file for divorce.
On the other hand, spouses might play a different dirty trick by using credit cards as a weapon. In some instances, one partner might run up debts on shared accounts. What this means is that the buyer can keep the property because it is considered personal property, but the debts constitute a community liability.
Another dirty trick that spouses will play is canceling the utilities. This might mean turning off the electricity, water, TV, or phone when the other spouse is still living in the home. In order to avoid this, you can contact the utility companies ahead of time and tell them about your situation or change the utility accounts to reflect only your name. It’s a good idea, though, to talk to a divorce lawyer about how to deal with the potential occurrence of this dirty trick, as they’ll be able to advise you on the best steps in your specific situation.
Sometimes, one spouse is so bitter about the divorce that they will destroy their shared property. While this isn’t particularly rational, they might feel so committed to making sure their spouse doesn’t receive anything useful in the divorce that they are willing to take a hit themselves as well.
As an example, let’s say that one spouse moves out of the marital home with a new partner. The remaining spouse might feel so distraught by the reality of the infidelity that they punch holes in the walls, defer maintenance, or destroy shared property in the home.
If you are moving out of a house that is jointly owned as a part of a separation or divorce, it’s a good idea to have an agreement in writing about how the home will be cared for. You should also try to maintain access to the property in order to keep an eye on routine care and maintenance.
Also, if you have both decided that you will be putting the house up for sale as a part of the divorce, it might be a good idea not to wait too long to get this process started.
One particularly dirty trick spouses can play is by exploiting the concept of a “conflict of interest.” Basically, an attorney can’t represent one spouse if the other spouse has already met with them and shared personal information about the case. In order to make the divorce as difficult as possible for their partner, the other party can set up consultation meetings with a bunch of the top lawyers in town. This means that when their partner calls to set up a meeting, the attorney won’t be able to represent them because of the conflict of interest.
You might feel like your spouse is either unreasonably delaying or rushing the divorce process. When it comes to delaying the process, they might file endless motions with the apparent goal of damaging your financial health. They also might be trying to make the divorce as psychologically and emotionally difficult for you, dragging it on rather than allowing you both to have a clean break and move on with your lives.
On the other hand, you might feel that your spouse is rushing through the divorce process. If you’ve just been served with divorce papers and you all of a sudden have your spouse’s attorney sending a settlement offer and pressing you to sign, it’s possible that some trickery is afoot.
In this instance, it’s possible that your spouse is trying to hide assets or hide negative terms. If you receive a settlement offer right away and it’s accompanied by written or verbal pressure regarding why it’s paramount that you sign ASAP, this is a red flag.
If your spouse is intentionally stalling the divorce, you might be worried about whether or not the divorce petition will expire and you'll have to start the whole process over again. If you're getting divorced in Texas, check out this article about whether or not a divorce decree expires in the Lone Star state.
A particularly bitter spouse might try to ruin your reputation by making accusations against you regarding behaviors like drug abuse, physical abuse, or sexual abuse. They might do this to gain primary custody of the children, to get the other party out of the marital home, or to force supervised visitations.
If you are worried that your spouse is going to make false accusations against you, you’ll want to lawyer up right away. They can help you hire a forensic psychiatrist and other experts to help prove that the allegations against you are not true.
While the seven dirty tricks we listed above are some of the most common ways that spouses can try and get more than their fair share in a divorce, there are a lot of other things you’ll want to keep an eye out for. Hopefully, if you are getting divorced you are able to proceed with your soon-to-be-ex in an amicable way. If you can tell that there are a lot of animosities, though, you might want to watch out for signs of funny business.
Sometimes, a spouse will move their children to another state just so it’s difficult for the spouse to visit them. In these instances, one spouse might move with the children without leaving a forwarding address or without any notice. If you’ve been tempted in this regard, you’ll want to hold back from this type of action.
You can end up losing primary custody and having geographical restrictions put on you, as judges really don’t like it when a spouse tries to interrupt a parent’s right to spend time with their kids.
If your spouse is a small business owner or an entrepreneur, it’s possible that they might try to hide money in their business in order to artificially lower their on-paper income. The reason for doing this would be to reduce the amount of child support or alimony they could owe.
This one is particularly disturbing, but it does happen. If your spouse is emotionally unstable but also fairly technologically savvy, it’s worth understanding the risk of this type of tomfoolery. Frequently used for child custody purposes, a spouse might choose to create fake Facebook posts or emails that paint an unstable or unflattering picture of the other spouse.
A spouse might make a fake social media profile for the other spouse and send messages from that account that are incriminating and damaging.
Believe it or not, extortion can also be used as a dirty tactic by a resentful spouse. There are a lot of different possible examples here, but it always involves some element of getting what they want via threats. This might mean that a husband threatens to send nude photos of his wife to her boss if she doesn’t give him what he wants in the divorce, or a wife threatening to take out a domestic violence charge against her husband if he doesn’t give her as much alimony as she thinks she deserves.
This is one of the saddest things that can happen in divorce cases because it is directly influencing the children’s relationship with the parents. One parent might alienate the children intentionally from the other spouse in order to hurt their ex emotionally or to have an impact on how much time they can spend with the children.
Getting divorced can be completely overwhelming. It can be stressful both emotionally and financially, even when you and your ex agree on all of your divorce terms. When one spouse decides to engage in sneaky divorce tactics, it can take your stress levels to an all-time high.
In these instances, it’s best to find a lawyer sooner rather than later. They can help guide you through the process and help you document the activity of your spouse that is suspect in a way that stays within the bounds of the law.
It’s also important to learn as much as you can about the divorce laws in your state. This way, you will know the best way to protect yourself and your interests.
Are you looking for more information about getting divorced in Texas? Check out TexasDivorceLaws.org.