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Ten Ways To Have a Really Bad Divorce

By Allison Quattrocchi, Mediator (retired) and

Joy Borum, Mediator

  1. Badmouth your spouse or ex- to family, friends, work colleagues, and your children. Then wait for them to pay you back verbally, by acting out, by ostracizing and blaming you, and having to work through the harm done to them by you. "We're always so sure we're welcome to 'pay the piper,' without realizing we don't get to set the price." Quote from a truly wise parent
  2. "There is no such thing as too many adults who love the children." Or, to use a traditional saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." Act badly and you'll have no village help and support...more importantly, neither will your children. 
  3. Turn your children against the other parent – You are throwing your children into the bonfire of your own pain and anger toward the other parent. Remember, when you badmouth the other parent, because children are exquisitely aware they are 1/2 you and 1/2 the other parent, biologically or by upbringing, you've just driven a knife into the chest of that precious child.
  4. Wipe out the bank account: What is your motivation - cheat, punish, financially paralyze or terrify the other spouse, or perhaps you're protecting yourself? If it is for your protection, take only half and hope the startled other person will calm down and listen... if not to you, to the mediator. Whatever your reason, if you want to escalate the anger, possibly land you in court with the expenses of that plus a totally irk the judge, wipe out the bank account.
  5. Threaten your spouse – "If you don't do 'x', I will see to it you get nothing," or "You won't ever see the kids" or multiple other versions of the same. Words like these are motivated by anger and/or fear of losing control. However, words like these are the best way to up the other's anger or to lose control. Bounaries and routines can be established if needed and helpful. The cases where all or nothing at all actually happen are rare. The mediator can help you/you both see and consider ways to get from here to there.
  6. Flaunt your boyfriend or girlfriend – The increased pain, humiliation hurt, and anger this behavior will inspire will backfire. It is mean spirited and will probably cost you on several levels. It's also just not smart. 
  7. Destroy your spouse's property – Let's hope your spouse has more common sense than you do at the moment and doesn't retaliate. Or if he or she already destroyed something of your's, try being the bigger person. Guaranteed to confuse or aggravate the heck out of her/him. Try a punching bag, talking with a friend or advisor, writing it all out, then burning the message, getting a good night's sleep - you get the idea, instead. 
  8. Hide Assets – Obviously there is no sense of honor here and it is a surefire path to spending a lot of money on litigation. And the other person will get half of it anyway or more than 1/2...and you'll have to pay the legal fees.
  9. Blame your spouse for the divorce – Seldom, if ever, is divorce one person's fault and in a no fault state as Arizona is, the law doesn't care whose "fault" it is. Each spouse can usually produce his or her own laundry list of the other spouse's failures and few of us are blessed with a halo. This behavior just digs a deeper emotional hole out of which you will have to climb. The most common cause for blame is "the affair." The "experts" will tell you an affair is usually a symptom, not the cause.
  10. Seek revenge - Ancient Chinese Proverb - "If you seek revenge, you had better dig two graves." Enough said.
  11. Lock your spouse out of the house – This triggers rage. Although it is probably best for almost every couple who is divorcing to begin or plan when to begin living under two, separate roofs* you would be well advised to do it with some level of cooperation or, if this fails, use the appropriate legal channels.