Dirty Tactics in Divorce: Are They Necessary?

At the recent Divorce University I listened to many wonderful speakers talking about the legal, financial and emotional aspects of divorce. Dirty tactics was not on the list of topics

One of the speakers said that a divorce is 80% emotional, 10% financial and 10% legal.  Hold that thought for a moment.

In the course of the day I spoke to a woman who was recently divorced.  I always ask (if they are willing to discuss their affairs with me) who her attorney was and who the husband’s attorney was. I also ask if they liked their attorney and why or why not.  And I also like to know what the husband’s attorney was like.

So in talking to this woman, she told me something that rang true with my experience:  “My X’s attorney was very nasty to me, it really bothered me that she could be so mean to me.”

Oh my gosh!

That brought back a vivid memory of my X’s attorney saying to me in court this last proceeding, “It is your fault that we are here.”


Either she was acting or she had drunk the Kool-Aid that my X fed her. Apparently since I had asked for permanent support and got it, and he was compelled to file this current motion to reduce or terminate  that amount, it “was all my fault.” They also unnecessarily conducted this proceeding like Sherman’s army marching through Georgia after the Civil War.

This lawyer conveniently ignored  the fact that my lawyers and I had tried to negotiate a settlement to avoid the first trial (and  many dollars in legal fees) as well as this second proceeding.  And yet, it was my fault!

Got that?

OK....now back to the woman I spoke with.  She was really upset that her X’s attorney was mean to her.  Of course, this is a strategy usually (but not always) employed by the husband. It is especially used on any woman whose self esteem was trampled during the marriage.  When a woman is already vulnerable, this can be extremely effective.

Women hear this:  one of the oldest strategies in a high conflict divorce is to wear down, wear out, demean and harass the wife.  The goal is to get her to throw up her hands and give in, to accept a settlement that is less than that to which she would be entitled.

Do attorneys really need to be so mean in order to represent their clients well?

In my own experience, all but one [and there have been lots as my X has gone through many Chicago lawyers during these proceedings] of my X’s attorneys were all rather malevolent to me.  Only James H. Feldman, from Jenner & Block was a gentleman and was never caustic, provocative or vicious to me in the appellate mediation proceedings we went through prior to the full on appellate procedure (which resulted in an Illinois Appellate Court decision in my favor).

So my wish is that all attorneys know that they can represent their clients well without being brutal to the opponent. Why add to someone’s misery in the name of being an advocate?

If you have the law and the facts on your side, you do not need to resort to such sleazy tactics.

Let’s change those percentages from above to 40% financial, 40% legal and 20% emotional.


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