Divorce Process: Intimidation and Balance of Power 2664

divorce processDuring the divorce process, as a divorce mediator I have noticed certain patterns manifest frequently. One of the patterns is when the husband attempts to intimidate the wife as they exit their former marriage relationship.

Common Background
In many couples the husband has been the primary provider or “breadwinner”.  As a result. it is not unusual for him to develop the opinion that he made the money and therefore it really belongs to him. He then sees himself as “giving his money” to his wife rather than dividing the moneys that rightfully belong to the both of them. He knows that the law does not see it this way but that is the way he feels anyway.
If in addition, he has handled the finances or been the senior partner in terms of leadership and decision making, this adds to his feelings of ownership. He may know more about their finances and almost always thinks he knows more.


If the wife is initiating the divorce or even if the husband is initiating the divorce and has convinced himself that her faults and mistakes justify him in filing, which is almost always the case, the husband may try to punish the wife. He may not even recognize that he is doing so, and it may be very subtle, but she will notice the difference.

One of the common traits of men relates to power. It has only been 200 years since men settled disputes by dueling, and fist fights are still a common event in some male circles. Manipulation of money by husbands is not unusual in divorce.

The Unwritten Marriage Contract

In every marriage there are a number of expectations and unspoken agreements, like who takes out the trash, who mows the yard, who disciplines the children, and who handles the finances. If one of the spouses changes the expectations that have quietly become a contract, the other spouse will become uneasy and squirm not knowing necessarily why they are uncomfortable.

Now, say the wife no longer goes along with the suggestions, ideas, and proposals of the husband. Let’s say for example, that she insists on hiring her own attorney over the objection of the husband. And she disagrees with him over whether and when to sell the house. And she insists on receiving half of his retirement. And she wants primary custody of the children. And she wants the majority of their coveted furniture and memory photographs.

She is rocking his boat and he is not going to like it. The balance of power is shifting and the husband gets real nervous.

Husband Uses Costs to Sucker Wife into Mistakes

One of the mistakes that wives sometimes make during the divorce process is the result of the husband’s constant verbal pressure. The husband says that the cost of lawyers, business evaluation specialists, real estate appraisers, mediation coaches, etc. is way too high and will only take away from what the couple will split.

And besides he already knows how much everything is worth. Trust me is the essence of his rhetoric. She may have been trusting him for 20-30 years and it is difficult for her to change.

In one of my recent divorce mediation cases, the husband told his wife that the husband’s million dollar business was not worth anything without him and therefore should be evaluated at zero. She agreed to that in order to save the $2000 cost of acquiring a business evaluation.

She saved her half of the fee and gave up an asset worth a great deal.

Choosing Your Battleground

If the husband is initiating the divorce process with a new love in the background, which is often the case, he is probably in a hurry to get the divorce finalized. His lover is likely to be pressuring him to get free. So he will be pushing by conversation, e-mail, through his attorney, and any other means he can find.

In these circumstances, where telephone conversations may be unproductive and quarrelsome, we usually recommend that the couple communicate by e-mail. This gives written evidence that reduces the convenient  memory as to what was said and agreed to and reduces the bullying and intimidation which might otherwise take place.

The Role of the Divorce Mediator/ Coach

As a divorce mediator my role in this divorce process includes leveling the playing field. Using mediation in divorce balances the power and minimizes or eliminates bullying and intimidation.

As part of the  mediation divorce process we insure that both spouses have accurate information available to allow them to make intelligent decisions. We do not make decisions for them.

Most of the problems involved in divorcing are human issues, not legal issues. We coach the spouses into a fair divorce settlement agreement that both can live with.

So far our mediation services, Texas Mediation Group, has never failed to reach a full divorce settlement agreement.