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How to have a nasty divorce


Some people believe that divorces have to be highly contentious, ugly, and expensive.  One potential client told me that she was looking for the meanest bulldog lawyer in town, so I responded by referring her to some other lawyers.  We pride ourselves on trying to maintain civility and get clients divorced as quickly and cost-effectively as possible.  Although a client can’t control his/her spouse’s conduct, there are several things a client can do to try and keep the rancor to a minimum.

I thought this blog post by Andrea Vacca, a New York family lawyer, was right on point.  She gives this recipe for a nasty divorce:

  • Hire a bulldog lawyer
  • Don’t explore mediation or collaborative divorce
  • Fight for your principles
  • Listen to the Greek chorus (family & friends who trash your spouse and question your choices)
  • Insist on having your day in court


I would add one more item to this list: do things that you know will get under your spouse’s skin.  I’ve seen more divorces head south because one party couldn’t resist the urge to say or do something just to push the other party’s buttons.  I recommend that before taking any action, clients ask themselves “What good will come from this?”  If the only benefit of making that comment is that it will feel good to aggravate the other side, don’t do it.  It will only make negotiations more difficult and increase the time and expense of your divorce.