When the Rude Spouse Goes to Court
In divorce or separation, there will always be some things—and people—that are beyond your control. Exes can be maddeningly unhelpful, just when their cooperation is needed.
What should you do when that happens? There are various ways a resentful ex can sabotage your efforts, and how you can prevail anyway. It’s understandable that a partner who didn’t want the divorce might resist everything involved with it. The spurned spouse might engage in overtly hostile acts, or adopt a passive-aggressive posture and simply refuse to help in any way.
Unfortunately, some also have personality disorders that add an element of danger to the mix. Marriage and family therapist Joyce Tessier describes this type of person: You have someone who early in life learned how to respond in a dysfunctional way; they don’t know how to behave differently. And ultimately, they drag that around with them: They’re not good in relationships, and they have multiple relationships.
They are extremely needy because no one has ever really satisfied what they didn’t get a long time ago. They are often people who are self-centered and cannot consider others. So you’re talking about the borderline personalities, the narcissistic people. According to Tessier, these are the people who often keep fighting to the bitter end: When you get into that kind of extreme behavior that you can actually see that they qualify for those characteristics—those are the ones that wind up going to court, because they don’t see the forest for the trees; they’re so wounded and caught up in their own stuff.
When they get to court, they may encounter a rude surprise. Judges typically honor agreements between divorcing spouses as long as they seem fair. But if the partners can’t agree, the court will decide for them. At that point, uncooperative spouses may find their strategy back firing.