Negotiating Your Divorce With a Difficult Spouse

June 25, 2024

When you’re considering a divorce, a uncontested divorce can seem like an ideal way to manage the legal costs and make the process less stressful. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango, and your spouse may not be on board with this approach. This raises many questions: Can you still proceed? How can you protect yourself and your interests? Let’s dive into strategies for negotiating your divorce with a difficult spouse and what to do if an amicable solution isn’t possible.

Tips for Negotiating Your Divorce With a Difficult Spouse

Understanding Your Spouse’s Objections

The first step is to understand why your spouse is reluctant about an uncontested divorce. Here are some common reasons:

  • Lack of Control: The process might make them feel less in control of the legal process, especially if they anticipate complexities in resolving assets or custody.


  • Distrust: Underlying distrust – towards you, the process, or lawyers in general – could manifest as a rejection of this streamlined approach.


  • A Desire to Complicate Things: Sadly, in some cases, a spouse might withhold agreement out of spite or a desire to make the divorce more difficult.


Strategies for Negotiating Your Divorce With a Difficult Spouse


Before abandoning the amicable divorce idea, try these strategies to see if you can find common ground:


  • Open Communication: Have an honest conversation about your spouse’s concerns. Actively listen to their viewpoint and address their specific worries.


  • Emphasize Benefits: Remind them that an uncontested divorce can reduce overall costs for both of you, potentially leading to a more amicable and faster resolution.


  • Education is Key: Provide resources on the arrangements or share what you have learned.


  • Address Specific Concerns: If their objection is around control, discuss how you can work together on major decisions while the attorney handles the legal process. If it’s about hidden costs, be transparent about what’s included and what’s not


  • Offer Alternatives: Is there a middle ground? Perhaps offering to have another attorney review the documents with them would be more acceptable. Or, see if they will agree to mediation in advance of going through paperwork.


  • Explore if any middle ground is achievable.


  • Break negotiations into many small sessions where only one topic is covered at a time


Alternatives If Negotiating Your Divorce with a Difficult Spouse Stalls or Fails


If, despite your efforts, your spouse won’t budge, you still have options:

  • Reassess Your Timeline: Can you put divorce on hold temporarily and revisit the idea later? Sometimes a cooling-off period allows for more rational decision-making.


  • Traditional Litigation: If your still want to get divorced, and do not want to see if a cooling off period will help, this is your only option. Spoiler Alert: its a really expensive option.


  • Mediation: Explore mediation with a neutral third party to facilitate an agreement on terms. Mediation can often be less costly than two separate lawyers battling it out. You’ll still need to take the agreements from mediation and have them turned into your divorce.


Protecting Yourself During the Process


Whether you ultimately end up in a flat fee uncontested divorce or not, take these steps to protect yourself:


  • Document Everything: Keep meticulous records of all communications with your spouse about the divorce, as well as finances and shared assets.


  • Seek Guidance: It’s highly advisable to hire an attorney to advise you , and explore possible outcomes.


  • Prioritize Your Well-being: Divorce is emotionally taxing. Don’t lose sight of self-care and consider seeking support from trusted friends, family, or a therapist.


Final Thoughts

It’s ideal to navigate a divorce with mutual agreement and solutions that benefit both spouses. However, the reality can be more complex. Remember, you have a right to advocate for an approach that feels manageable and fair to you.


I have helped many clients navigate negotiating divorce with a difficult spouse. If you would like to see if I can help, please reach out or call me.


Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information and is not a substitute for legal advice. Please consult an attorney for guidance specific to your situation.