Is your spouse responding harshly to you during your divorce process? Did you ever think this is the way your divorce would go? You probably thought, like most people, your spouse would respect the boundaries you had established in your lives together. Simple things such as not acting out, speaking reasonably kindly, etc. would not be problematic. While you knew there were matters that needed to be negotiated, you had communicated effectively through years of issues, surely this would be similar. You never thought your divorce would be one of the horror stories you overhear others discussing in hushed tones, yet that is precisely how you feel, and it appears there is no end in sight either. In fact you can feel your negotiating position is continuously becoming compromised during your divorce process. What can you do to regain control? Why is this happening? Read on.
People do not often think about how they are communicating with their spouse during a divorce process. What used to work and how you “negotiated” with your spouse during your marriage will likely not work the same way during your divorce process. Your spouse can easily just say “No” to any request you make or even demand you express. You may wonder how your spouse could get away with such behaviors. You may even say if you engaged in those same behaviors you would be held in contempt of court. You may also find the opposing counsel constantly attacks your character or portrays the facts of the case in a misleading light, regardless how you approach the topics at hand. You discover your negotiating position is constantly shifting. Why?
Believe it or not, the problem may not be with your spouse. The challenge may be with how you thought you could still communicate with your spouse. Again, old communication patterns no longer work. The person you married is not the same person you are going through a divorce with at this time. This is a challenging concept to think about when you are going through a divorce. Yet it is ever so real. It is difficult to pivot your communication style when habits are ingrained so deeply, but the benefits and consequences dictate that it absolutely must be done.
Another issue is when you communicate what you want to your spouse. A third issue is what we refer to as the presentation layer. How will you communicate with your spouse and how will it be received? In your communications you are trying to paint a picture for your spouse, and possibly your spouse’s counsel, to understand your perception. Your spouse is trying to arrive at an informed decision of what your spouse believes is correct. This may appear to be an impossible task in your mind. The way your spouse or the opposing counsel approaches the matter may appear just out of control. You may be right. Yet, there are ways to manage these behaviors and regain control over the process and your negotiating position.
One thing you have to do is step back and critically evaluate your current communication pattern with your spouse. Perhaps you have been the nice person in the relationship saying please, thank you, etc. Yet now you find your spouse is responding in a nasty way no matter how you communicate. This is all too common. What you have to do is focus on communicating from a perspective of legal compliance. If you are receiving this ongoing backlash, you need to shift your communications to demonstrating (a.k.a. creating evidence) that your spouse is non-compliant with a court order, an agreement, etc. This will put you back in control. Yet, there are likely many components you will have to manage. Also, how you say what you need to communicate is very sensitive too. One emotionally driven communication can easily put you back in the position you didn’t want, or potentially place you in an even more compromised position.
You always want to be thinking of the Judge and how she or he will respond to what has transpired over time. Your spouse’s behaviors could lead the Judge to modify the temporary orders, permanent conditions or other related orders. Basically you need the legal grounds to hold your spouse accountable. With a spouse who is not behaving, doesn’t know how to negotiate, who appears totally irrational, etc. legal grounds are critical. Yet, to be clear this is not about attorneys providing you legal grounds. You may have the legal grounds spelled out for you in a legal document. It is very important to understand this is a negotiation, and there are many negotiation points that fall between the legal milestones of a divorce. If you are unclear, or your advisors are unclear, how to effectively negotiate these matters and bring you back into a strong position you need people who can help you do that. We specialize in managing negotiating positions in context to a divorce.
If you do not gain control over your negotiating position, you will find your spouse will continue to say things and do things that you just do not like. This will not only last during your divorce process. It will continue beyond your divorce as your spouse believes they have control over you. Also, you will find your spouse will get her or his way if you do not communicate in a way that optimizes your negotiating position. This is a huge factor in managing the outcomes of your divorce process. In these situations, it is ever so important to define specific divorce conditions with financial triggers associated to them and embed them in your decree. This way you can strongly incentivize compliance with the terms of the divorce decree, and receive compensation for your spouse’s non-compliant behavior.
Word to the wise: be aware how to shift your style of communication as you are going through your divorce. If you don’t you will find even when your divorce is over you will continue to experience the same level of frustration you did leading up to your divorce and as you went through your divorce process. This is how to ensure to mitigate the risks of needlessly ending up back in court, wasting time, effort and money. Otherwise, you will continue to be frustrated from a marriage which appeared to be long over. If you need help with this process reach out and we will help.
About the Author
Larry Smith is a Founding Partner of Divorce Outcomes, a specialized professional services firm that manages all of the financial aspects in a divorce process. Since 2003 he has worked as a trusted financial advisor, financial advocate, divorce architect and technical financial expert; he is not an attorney. He is an alumni of KPMG and Andersen with expertise in technical accounting, forensics, sophisticated taxation, management consulting, risk management, advanced process engineering, business combinations, divorce management, multi-party negotiations, advanced quality analytics and cognitive performance technologies. Since 1986 Larry has been advising individuals and organizations about innovative financial solutions to resolve complex financial challenges that arise in life and in business.
For both personal and business divorces, Larry is considered an expert in divorce strategies, divorce process management, financial divorce architecture, financial risk management, taxation for divorces, financial divorce forensics, advanced divorce analytics, financial divorce negotiations and mediation, business valuations and sophisticated equity structures. He helps clients shape complex financial decisions, manage communication risks and ever-changing negotiating positions to strategically preserve or grow wealth from these types of transactions.
If You Have a Question
If you have a question, feel free to contact me at [email protected] or 617-680-5222. The call is free. I will spend 30–60 minutes with you. I will provide you an honest assessment as to where I think you are positioned in your divorce process or answer any questions you have. I may provide you some guidance, insight or advice that you can take with you as you wish. There is no obligation to move forward. The phone call is designed to ease your fears, provide you some options to pursue and a potential road to run on that can lead you down a path to achieve a successful outcome.
About Divorce Outcomes
Divorce Outcomes is a specialty services firm that helps people both domestically and internationally manage all of the financial decisions that arise in their divorce process. We are not attorneys. We are financial experts who partner with our clients as their personal financial advocates. We help our clients manage their divorce process, uncover hidden financial risks, architect divorce solutions, manage ever-changing negotiating positions, communicate complex financial matters and close the divorce process as soon as possible with a goal to arrive at the best outcomes possible. Throughout the process we evaluate the current state of our clients’ financial lives with an objective to best reposition their future. We do not sell any products. We simply raise issues that are in our clients best interest. Our clients share with us we:
- unfold, analyze and repackage their financial life so they are well positioned after their divorce
- preserve the value of their business or marital estate
- continuously strive to provide a return on our services
- build balanced financial solutions grounded in evidence
- find ways to make our client, and at times both parties, money through the process
- design their divorce to work for them and their family’s life
- provide mental clarity to make decisions
- reduce the total process time from start to close
- minimize the stress and unpleasant memories that can last a lifetime
As we reach an agreed upon settlement structure, we help our clients identify a fitting attorney who can leverage the financial solution to draft and record the requisite legal documents. Where outcomes are at risk from a traditional process, we function as expert financial negotiators or financial mediators to turn around the situation and achieve our client’s desired outcomes.
This communication is for general informational purposes only which may or may not reflect the most current developments. It is not intended to constitute formal advice or a recommended course of action as every person’s situation is unique and different. The information here is not intended to be, and should not be, relied upon by the recipient to make a decision without professional guidance.