Divorcing a Difficult Spouse

One of the most frequent questions prospective clients ask me is “have you handled a divorce with a difficult spouse?”

As a family law and divorce attorney, I have worked with many clients who have divorced a difficult spouse and learned many things that may help during this challenging time in your life.

So, what can you do to protect yourself during a divorce?

Hire an Attorney

The outcome of your divorce determines your future, your child’s future, and your financial freedom. You need to hire an attorney who will provide you with good legal advice, help you stand up to your spouse, and support you during the process.

This does not mean that you need to hire an attorney who wants to litigate all issues and take your case to trial. You need to hire a lawyer who can fight but won’t create the fight. You need someone who will protect you, but not make your divorce drawn out and worse.


A difficult spouse often wants to “win.” Therefore, instead of fighting every battle that your spouse picks, decide in advance which areas are important and worth it and what fights you can let go. Letting go of the unimportant fights changes the power dynamic with your spouse because you are not giving them the reaction they are trying to create.  This is not always easy, or possible, but if it’s manageable, it is one of the best, most cost-effective strategies to finalize your divorce.

Get Everything in Writing

A difficult spouse may deny agreements, create a false narrative, and manipulate your reality.  Therefore, to protect yourself, put everything in writing. You should get in the habit of sending your spouse texts and emails confirming agreements and/or conversations. While this may seem awkward at first, you will thank yourself later for having the documentation if a dispute arises.


If you see account or financial statements around the house or have online access, start making copies of the information. Many times, things can “go missing” during a divorce action, so it is best to be prepared.

Here is a brief list of what to gather:

  • Bank account statements (joint and sole)
  • Real estate property tax bill
  • Mortgage statement
  • Recent pay stubs for you and your spouse
  • Tax returns, including the attachments – past 3 years
  • Insurance paperwork
  • Vehicle registrations/title
  • Valuable antiques/art/jewelry
  • Investment account statements
  • Retirement account statements
  • Your birth certificate, social security card, and passport

Take Care of Yourself

Divorcing your spouse can take a major toll on your mental health. Take care of yourself by going on walks, practicing yoga, meditation, or seeking emotional support through therapy.

If you have further questions or are considering divorcing your spouse, contact Attorney Heather L. Nelson for a free consultation.

The information on this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Please do not send any time-sensitive or confidential information until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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