5 Manipulations Every Woman Should Watch Out For During Divorce

Photo: Karolina Grabowska | Canva
Woman with ex in divorce lawyers office

Divorce is such a difficult process to experience, but many people don’t realize they are not prepared for the awful manipulation their spouse might put them through during the proceedings.

Getting divorced can give people an excuse for bad decisions or behavior — possibly worse than any you’ve ever seen before in the marriage. This can easily overwhelm or frighten anyone, so it’s vital to understand what manipulation tricks your spouse might try to use on you during your divorce.



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Here are 5 manipulations women should watch out for during divorce.

1. Classic smoke and mirrors.

Many people don't realize their spouse or attorney might employ distraction to confuse them. They may even delay and avoid important areas like finances or support payments or complying with discovery requests, leave out pertinent information, or focus on some other area of less concern.

For example, your spouse may be forcing you to focus on and commit to his summer vacation times instead of your concern, which is thousands of dollars due in support obligations, which are probably already in arrears, that you need to support yourself and your kids.

You probably don't realize this can become a game to your ex-spouse and their attorney. They are distracting you with minor things so you can't focus on the bigger picture. Or, they overwhelm your attention with many less impactful areas instead of the one main concern of yours.

To protect your best interests, outline what you and your spouse need to address and prioritize them by importance.

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2. Lies, accusations, and taking things out of context.

It’s easy to lose track of information or get things confused during something as big as a divorce case, but this is the exact trick that manipulators will thrive on. Taking one piece of a puzzle and making it out to be something much worse is a common tactic during divorce proceedings that can leave you feeling confused, frustrated, and desperately searching for answers.

Sometimes, one shred of fact is embellished into something so distorted you aren't even sure where they got it from.

For example, your soon-to-be ex did homework one time with your child because you had a funeral to go to out of state. Your ex may tell the court how they are the one who always does homework with your child because you can’t do it and are never around. It can leave you feeling upset and confused, and it can also be hard to combat it if you don't have a record of things.

Keeping a journal or calendar of everything that concerns your children is a good idea if you are in a custody battle. Be sure you note the times they are with your ex versus when they are with you. Also, note when you take them to appointments, tutors, friends, or doctors so there are no mix-ups or confusion in the future. You should also communicate with teachers, doctors, and coaches as you usually do.



3. Dragging everything out beyond what's necessary.

Sometimes, the pressure to accept the terms, whether it's your ex's or your attorneys, is so great that you feel you must give in.

Time is an area that is often manipulated during a divorce, where proceedings, court dates, and paperwork can be drawn out until you give in and concede... You may have heard the saying, "Times flies," but sadly in Divorceland, time does not fly. Things will take forever — or at least feel like they do.

During divorce cases, issues tend to drag on — sometimes far longer than you ever realized or expected them to. Court time moves in another dimension; weeks turn to months to years, adjournments, delays, and stall tactics all help to contribute to the giant time suck.

You’ll need to prepare emotionally for the process and settle in for the long haul so you don't feel compelled to give in on your issues because you're being pressured.

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4. Abusing the already confusing nature of court documents.

As if court documents weren't confusing enough, it might surprise you they are often manipulated during these proceedings. Important language/clauses might be left out, or the topics are left vague on purpose. In a stipulation or settlement, once things are agreed to, then it is documented. Often you have to agree on the spot under duress and without the clarity to read the paperwork or have another set of eyes look at it.

Sometimes proper language is not used in this type of paperwork, or how it’s worded is unclear. It’s important never to assume that just because you have a paper telling/ordering someone to do or not do something, they’ll respect it.

Paper doesn't force someone to have integrity or honor their word or even the word ordered by a court. Also, trying to get your paperwork enforced when they don't comply — whether it’s about child support, a restraining order, or another hot-button topic — is another nightmare of a process.



5. Using your fear of losing money against you.

Money is another area of manipulation and extortion during divorce. You would probably have more fun watching it being thrown out a window, to be honest. It seems backward, but divorce is a topic that we accept as being ridiculously expensive, even if it doesn’t need to be.

The key to getting through this without wasting money is to remember you are in charge. You must be certain your expectations and goals are defined upfront with your attorney so you can see where they might not be met further down the line.

You are the real decision maker and have hired someone to help you complete a service. Hold your spouse and your attorney accountable for what they say they will do, and don’t let them jerk you around. Attorneys are in it to get paid, but you'll still need to look for one with your best interests at heart.

Many people think it's acceptable for divorce to cost a fortune, bankrupt them, and take an exorbitant amount of time.

This is not true, and if you have an attorney trying to do this to you, it’s time to hire a new one!

Divorce can be a stressful and overwhelming time in people’s lives, and emotions can run amuck.

Feelings like anger, hurt, and resentment tend to cloud your judgment, and for good reason, too; all the major areas of your life are impacted, from your relationships to family to finances.

What's worse, you may not even notice these manipulative behaviors at first because of the pain you’re experiencing.

Whether you are considering divorce, in the process, or post-divorce, you need to get clear on your expectations. If your marriage is miserable, the divorce process isn’t any easier. If your spouse is already manipulative, they aren’t going to magically morph into the partner you've always wanted. They will be hurt, and want to take that hurt out on the person they blame, so it can be an arduous process that requires you to be tough.

Good people get pushed to their limits and can lose their composure in divorce. Being aware of the tricks and tactics used in divorce proceedings helps you stay calm and focused on your concerns. This allows you to gain clarity when emotions run high and be sure you’re protected during the proceedings.



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Angela Shanerman is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach, focused on helping clients protect their and their children's best interests. She shares more on her website as well as her Instagram page.