9 Sneaky Divorce Tactics Your Ex Might Use Against You During Your Divorce

sneaky divorce tactics

Going through a divorce can be an incredibly difficult and emotional time, especially when your spouse starts playing dirty. Unfortunately, underhanded tactics and even outright illegal behavior are common during divorce proceedings.

Being aware of the types of sneaky divorce tactics you might encounter can help you protect yourself, your children, and your assets. In this article, we’ll discuss 9 of the most common dirty tricks and tactics people often use when getting a divorce and how you can defend yourself.

1. Intentionally Delaying the Divorce

One common sneaky divorce tactic is stalling and delaying the divorce proceedings. Your spouse may drag their feet on signing papers, not show up to hearings, or find ways to postpone the process.

Why would someone do this? Usually, it’s a narcissistic attempt to maintain control. By delaying divorce, the offending spouse continues to have power over you and makes you suffer longer. They want you trapped in legal limbo.

For example, a spiteful ex may refuse to disclose financial documents needed to divide assets. Without this information, negotiations hit a standstill until forced by the court. This intentional stonewalling drags out the timeline.

The offender may also cancel meetings with attorneys or mediators at the last minute, missing deadlines and forcing delays. These tactics add stress and increase costs as the divorce drags on.

2. Pushing for a Rushed or Unfair Settlement

In contrast to intentional delays, some spouses push for an extremely rushed settlement. They may fabricate time constraints, push unrealistic deadlines, or try convincing you to sign unfinished agreements.

Why the hurry? The manipulator knows a rushed process benefits them because crucial details get overlooked. You may miss errors in paperwork or accept a bad deal out of sheer exhaustion.

Beware if your ex demands fast paperwork signing without review, especially if children or large assets are involved. They could be hiding something or intentionally omitting information that protects your rights. Never let anyone pressure you into signing divorce documents prematurely.

3. Hiding, Spending, or Lying About Assets and Income

Underhanded spouses often try hiding assets and income to avoid paying child support or alimony. They may stash cash in secret accounts, rack up debt, or liquidate assets before filing. Some even lie about their employment status or income.

For example, a soon-to-be ex-husband quit his lucrative job but told his wife he was laid off. This minimized the alimony calculation. Others have been caught hiding investment properties under different names or claiming their bonuses were much lower.

Your spouse may also run up joint credit card balances to get at marital assets before you separate them. Or they withdraw substantial sums from joint accounts without your knowledge.

4. Requesting More Visitation to Reduce Support Payments

During custody negotiations, the higher-earning spouse may push for more overnight visits and shared custody time. While this may seem like a positive co-parenting intention, it’s often financially motivated.

In most states, higher custody time or overnight percentages lower the child support calculation. The sneaky parent knows increasing their visitation, even when impractical, reduces what they owe.

For example, a manipulative ex-husband asked for 50% custody of a toddler who was still breastfeeding just to lower child support costs. In reality, he traveled frequently for work and could never actually exercise that much visitation.

5. Making False Allegations Against You

Unfortunately, some spiteful spouses fabricate false allegations as a divorce tactic. Common lies involve:

  • Abuse
  • Drug/alcohol issues
  • Child neglect
  • Crazymaking lies about your mental stability

Why make false accusations? To gain an upper hand over child custody rights or marital property division. Your ex knows such allegations can prejudice divorce courts against you.

These sinister lies can inflict maximum damage if your ex seeks a restraining order based on their fictitious claims. Restraining orders can instantly exclude you from the home and hamper child visitations. Never underestimate the devious levels some people will stoop to during marital dissolution.

6. Resisting Communication or Negotiations

Healthy cooperative divorces require open communication between the parties. However, some manipulators dictate discussions to maintain control or hide information.

Your spouse may:

  • Refuse phone calls, emails, or texts for days or weeks
  • Resist scheduling settlement meetings
  • Walk out of appointments when discussions get serious
  • Pretend not to receive requests for documentation

This lack of communication stalls decision-making. It also conceals important financial and parenting details. Unfortunately, the withholder knows silence benefits them while frustrating you.

7. Turning Kids Against the Other Parent

One of the most heartbreaking sneaky tactics involves turning children against the other parent to hurt them. Unfortunately, some narcissistic spouses exploit kids as emotional weapons.

Parental alienation tactics can include:

  • Badmouthing you in front of the kids
  • Telling them lies about abuse or abandonment
  • Refusing to cooperate with custody transfers
  • Blocking your visitation attempts

This undermines the parent-child relationship, especially if the manipulator makes the child choose sides. Kids often internalize the guilt, believing they betrayed one parent. The emotional damage can impact their well-being for years.

8. Quitting a Job

If alimony and child support amounts are based on income, one sneaky tactic is for the higher earner to suddenly quit their job or reduce their hours. Then they can claim inability to pay as much support. Make sure your divorce lawyer is aware if your ex makes sudden changes in employment status.

9. Lying to Friends and Family

When a marriage ends badly, your soon-to-be ex may try to make themselves look innocent by lying about you to friends and family. They might tell exaggerated or outright false stories about your behavior in the relationship. This is done to turn loved ones against you.

If your ex is spreading lies, speak to your divorce lawyer about sending a cease and desist letter. Remind friends and family that divorce is never one-sided. There are two people in a marriage and two people when it ends. Stay level-headed, take the high road, and ask loved ones not to pick sides.

How Can You Protect Yourself from Sneaky Divorce Tactics?

If you suspect your spouse is using underhanded tactics during your divorce, here are some smart steps to take:

Choose an Experienced Divorce Attorney

Having a knowledgeable family law attorney who can protect your interests is key. Look for a divorce lawyer who has experience with high-conflict divorces and understands all the latest dirty tricks. They can help ensure you aren’t blindsided by any unethical behavior.

Maintain Open Communication

Be honest with your attorney about any concerns you have regarding your spouse’s behavior, and make sure to copy them on any correspondence between you and your ex. Open communication ensures your lawyer stays fully informed and can best advise you.

Document Everything

Keep thorough records of all conversations, correspondence, financial transactions, interactions with your children, and anything else relating to the divorce. Documentation helps prove your side if your spouse misrepresents the truth.

Stay Calm and Neutral

As difficult as it is, try your best not to react in anger if you believe your ex is playing dirty. No matter how underhanded their tactics, stay calm and neutral, especially in front of the judge. This makes you look far more reasonable and honest than an ex who is visibly manipulative.

Consult a Forensic Accountant

If you suspect your spouse is deliberately hiding assets and money, consider hiring a forensic accountant. Their financial investigative skills can help uncover any hidden accounts or valuables your ex is trying to keep concealed.

Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer

An experienced family law attorney recognizes underhanded tactics instantly. They won’t let a conniving spouse take advantage of you legally.

Your lawyer can help:

  • Petition the court to force the offending party into compliance with paperwork and financial disclosure
  • File requests for restraining orders in cases of harassment or abuse
  • Subpoena phone, bank, and employment records to verify facts and uncover deception
  • Suppress inadmissible evidence like unverified abuse accusations
  • Object to unrealistic custody and visitation demands that only benefit the ex financially

Protect Yourself from Dirty Divorce Tactics

Going through a divorce is challenging enough without added games and manipulation. You have the right to an amicable and fair divorce process. Being aware of common sneaky divorce tactics will help you identify them early on. And your experienced divorce attorney can take swift action to protect your rights.

At Martine Law, we’re known for our aggressive, no-nonsense approach to protecting our clients during divorce. If your ex is playing dirty, we won’t hesitate to stand up for you. For trusted counsel through your Minnesota divorce, contact us for a free consultation. We serve clients in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Twin Cities, and statewide.

Author Bio

Xavier Martine

Xavier Martine is the Founder of Martine Law, a Minnesota criminal defense and family law firm. Serving clients in Minneapolis, MN, and surrounding areas, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of criminal matters, including DWIs, drug charges, misdemeanors, domestic violence, and other criminal charges. He also represents clients in family law matters, including divorce, child support, and child custody.

Xavier received his Juris Doctor from the Mitchell Hamline School of Law and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys Under 40 in Minnesota” in 2021 by The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys. He was also named the “Best DUI Lawyer in Minneapolis” award in 2023 by Expertise.com and a “Rising Star” in 2023 by SuperLawyers.

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