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It’s Not Pretty – What to do if Your Former Spouse is Uncooperative

Divorce. The good, the bad, the ugly.

It’s certainly not one of the most glamourous times in your life. In fact, it may be one of the worst (or best, depending on how you look at it.) At the end of the day, the person who you are separating from is someone who knows you very well. You’ve likely spent a significant amount of your life with them – they’ve seen you grow, change, and develop into the person you are today. They know what makes you tick, and alternatively, what makes you smile.

But today, for whatever your reason is, it’s just not working anymore, and it’s time to walk away. Everyone hopes that their divorce is easy and ends fairly and equitable for everyone involved. But, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. Here are some suggestions if your partner in divorce is just not cooperating with you to make this new transition an easier time.

1. Put everything in writing. There’s something to be said about a “he said/she said” situation. As much as you want to trust that someone won’t use your words against you (or worse, make something up completely), it happens. Make sure everything is well-documented during the entire process to ensure that it’s all clear and harder to argue.

2. Just because you can’t stay, doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to leave. This is going to be an adjustment for everyone involved. You have to get used to doing so much on your own again, even if you were managing the household, kids, or the finances primarily. Just because it’s been bad for a long time, doesn’t mean that when it’s over, you’ll feel great. In fact, getting used to a new life is not peachy. The sooner you realize this reality, the sooner you’ll be able to embrace the situation and move forward.

3. Focus on the present and the future. What’s important right now is moving forward. You may have had an amazing past, or alternatively, a terrible past. But dwelling on what happened yesterday isn’t going to help anyone in this process. Focus on taking a step forward and starting your new life rather than looking to the past. There is a reason the windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror – the road ahead is more important than the one behind.

4. Talk it out. Whether with a trusted friend, a family member, or a therapist, find your “tribe” and lean on them to listen. Keeping everything locked up inside will only harm you in the end. Even if that person can’t relate personally to what you’re going through, having people around you who have a great listening ears is imperative. Be diligent to not become an “ask-hole”, though (someone who consistently asks for advice, but often does the opposite.)

5. Compromise. This isn’t going to work out 100% in your favour. But, it’s also not going to work 100% in their favour, either. It never does. Meeting halfway on some things (or 70/30 in some cases) will show good intentions to resolve issues. It’s important to pick your battles, and be realistic. My rule of thumb? I always give a little more than I get. It seems to help the whole process go smoother.

6. Be clear in communication. Don’t leave anything to the imagination. Say what you’re thinking, and urge your former spouse to do the same. Emotions will be running high, and whether your thoughts are positive or negative, laying everything out in the open is always the best way to go about everything. Especially in this situation.

7. Try to keep yourself mentally strong. There are going to be so many ups and downs through this whole situation. Given who is on the other side of this divorce, you will have so many feelings (both good and bad) that you’ll want to deal with and keep straight. This process is called “cognitive dissonance”, or mixed feelings. Psychology Today says “Your brain will be required to perform the nearly impossible psychological high-wire act of protecting you against what you perceive as your archest enemy out to steal your children and leave you destitute while – at precisely the same millisecond – holding tightly to the memory and belief that this same person once held your heart with love and is the other half of the key to your children’s psychological health.”

8. This will take time. Give yourself enough. I hate to tell you this, but this is going to take time… and lots of it. Being realistic throughout this process is one of the best things you can do. Seriously. You’re not going to go from “I want a divorce” to “phew, glad that’s over” in a day. Not even a week, or month. So, be realistic knowing that it’ll be over when it’s over. This process isn’t rushed for any reason. And even if your former spouse seems to be dragging it out for whatever reason, know that everything will work out in time.

9. Be wise and mature. Especially if there are children in the picture. With emotions in flux, your stability jeopardized, and your world being flipped upside down, it’s so easy to start name-calling, or acting against your former spouse. Restraint is the key. Even if they’re acting poorly, you’ll be able to look back and know that you refrained and were mature through the entire process. Your children will one day thank you for it.

10. Hire professionals. Let’s face it, regardless of why you’re here, there are emotions all over the place. Working with a professional – like a CDRE™ and a lawyer – helps neutralize the situation to ensure that everything is done legally and as efficiently as possible. You may think you are saving money doing it on your own or bringing in a third party, but if it ends poorly, are you really? One of my favourite quotes, “if you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur.”

I’m always here to answer your questions and lead you in the right direction. Remember, you’re not alone. Contact me today!

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