How to Tell During the Divorce Process If the Opposing Party Is Acting in Bad Faith

By Beverly Bird

When spouses begin separating their lives in preparation for divorce, they often realize they are about to lose something dear, such as time with their children or half their life savings. Even when both spouses want the divorce, this can be difficult. When one spouse does not want the divorce or is extremely bitter over the circumstances that led to divorce, he may try to obstruct the proceedings or use the legal process to punish his ex. In legal terms, he’s acting in bad faith.

When spouses begin separating their lives in preparation for divorce, they often realize they are about to lose something dear, such as time with their children or half their life savings. Even when both spouses want the divorce, this can be difficult. When one spouse does not want the divorce or is extremely bitter over the circumstances that led to divorce, he may try to obstruct the proceedings or use the legal process to punish his ex. In legal terms, he’s acting in bad faith.

Delaying Proceedings

When your spouse is opposed to the divorce, or wants to hurt you by running up your legal fees, he may attempt to either stall or overly complicate the proceedings. Stalling tactics are usually pretty obvious. He might fail to respond to your divorce petition in the time allotted to him, then ask the court for an extension. He may ignore your attorney’s discovery requests to supply documentation substantiating assets, so negotiations or trial might be delayed. Efforts to run up your legal fees might be a little less apparent until a pattern establishes itself over time. He might frequently file motions with the court, asking a judge to address minute details of your divorce while it’s pending. He might pepper your attorney with correspondence. Every time your lawyer must read one of your spouse’s letters or respond to one, it costs you money because you must pay for his time.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Hiding Assets

Ignoring discovery requests may also mean your spouse is hiding something. It’s difficult to hide an asset once a divorce is underway; litigants and their attorneys usually try to identify and value marital property early on in the proceedings. However, if your spouse planned the divorce, he may have transferred ownership of some assets prior to filing. This type of “divorce planning” can be difficult to detect after the fact because the asset is already gone by the time you start looking for it. However, discovery requests can include documents that date back years. If your ex had a brokerage account you didn’t know about, he might have transferred ownership to a family member a year before filing for divorce. If you or your attorney ask for statements for all his brokerage accounts going back two years, you might find evidence of such a transaction.

Lying About Income

Another bad faith tactic is misrepresenting income in an attempt to reduce child support payments or eliminate an alimony obligation. If you can access your ex's credit card records or his monthly budget, you might find his expenses are well in excess of what he claims to be earning. If he owns his own business, he might be siphoning off cash receipts, putting them directly in his pocket rather than depositing them into a business account. If he historically received bonuses or commissions from his employer and that suddenly stops, he might have asked his employer to hold onto the money until your divorce is over.

Custody Issues

If your ex was never a very involved parent and is suddenly demanding full custody, he may be trying to avoid paying child support. If your kids live with him, you’d have to pay him instead. An often-used bad faith tactic to gain custody is to allege incidents of domestic violence. If your spouse wants to depict you as a bad parent, he might claim you assaulted him during an argument and call the police, especially if you still live together. If he gets a restraining order against you, the court will remove you from your home -- and he’ll get to stay there with the kids. This can set a precedent in a future custody dispute.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How To Prove Assets & Income in a Divorce

References

Related articles

How to Prepare for a Divorce in New Jersey

Many steps leading up to a divorce are the same regardless of what state you file in. A few common sense approaches can go a long way, and each state's laws are mostly applicable after you get the process started. You can prepare with them in mind, however.

What Is the Process After I Pay My Divorce Lawyer the Retainer Fee?

Divorce can be a long, expensive road to travel, or it can be relatively quick and simple, depending on your ability to reach a settlement agreement with your spouse. The lawyer you choose will probably have a good idea which way your divorce is going to go after meeting with you for an initial consultation. Based on this, most divorce attorneys require a retainer fee. The fee is roughly equal to how much time he thinks he’s going to have to invest to get you divorced, barring unforeseen circumstances.

How to Divorce Someone With a Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Even mentally healthy individuals might feel some sense of rejection when they learn their spouses want a divorce. Individuals diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder will usually take the news even worse. They have a grandiose sense of self-importance and are hypersensitive to any implication that they’ve failed at an endeavor. States increasingly train their divorce court judges to deal with all sorts of difficult personalities, including those caused by mental disorders. However, if your spouse suffers from NPD, you may have to take some commonsense steps of your own if you want to end your marriage.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Income Discovery in Family Law Cases

If you and your spouse are divorcing, you usually have only one chance to get the terms right. If you agree to a ...

Tips on Giving a Deposition for a Divorce

Divorce cases can be much like other civil lawsuits, and depositions can be used in divorces like they are in other ...

Motion to Reinstate a Divorce Complaint

Deadlines and mandatory court filings can complicate the divorce process, especially when you’re representing ...

What Happens When Your Spouse Disappears in the Middle of Your Divorce and Is Represented by Counsel?

It's possible for a spouse to disappear midway through divorce proceedings, especially if he doesn’t want the ...

Browse by category