How aggressive should you be in your divorce?


You and your spouse decide to get divorced. It’s not a good scene. Things have been going south for some time, but you’re really on bad terms now that you have decided to end your marriage.

You worry that your spouse is going to try to “win” the divorce out of spite. Maybe they’ll try to get more of the assets or get more time with the kids — or cut you out of the children’s lives entirely.

What you wonder, then, is how aggressive you should be at the beginning of the divorce. Is your best strategy to try to do the same thing to your spouse? Do you need to fight to “win” so that they don’t take advantage of you?

Escalating the situation

The problem with an aggressive approach like this is that you can escalate the situation needlessly. Do you actually know how your spouse is going to approach it? Maybe they had a much more level-headed approach in mind. If you come out with a clearly aggressive mindset, you push them into it, as well. That can make things more difficult than they needed to be.

For instance, one man reduced his wife’s spending limits on her credit card since they had a joint account. That led to an embarrassing decline when trying to buy something. She got angry and decided to officially serve the divorce papers at work so that all of his coworkers had to see. This escalated things so that they both began spending thousands of dollars doing everything they could to “win.”

Is that really winning? The divorce will take longer, cost more and get more complicated than if they were on good terms. Experts note that this a common divorce mistake you likely want to avoid.

The exception

The exception to that rule, of course, is if you already know that your soon-to-be-ex wants to play hardball. You do not want to let them take advantage of you just because you’re trying to be nice. Sometimes, an aggressive approach is the only real option you have, and you need to be prepared.

So, every case is different. What does your relationship look like? What big issues do you have to discuss, like child custody and asset division? What indicators do you have that your spouse will be aggressive, passive or somewhere in between? Ask yourself exactly what the case looks like and how you need to proceed.

Your options

Once you know, then it’s time to start looking into your legal options. There is a proper approach for every case, and you need to know what it is.