3 Examples Of Nasty Divorce Tactics

nasty divorce tactics

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Getting divorced is no picnic. It can feel like a war in many cases, and you feel like you are trying to come to agreements with someone who has become a complete stranger to you.What does this have to do with nasty divorce tactics? Let me explain.

It’s kind of bizarre if you think about it. You once stood in a wedding dress with this person, wearing the ring he gave you, did the whole romantic first wedding dance, had babies with him, and now, you just can’t stand each other, and all you want is to be as far away as possible from this person.

One thing that happens in almost every divorce is that because both people are so hurt and angry and bitter and sad and scared, they have the potential to engage in nasty divorce tactics. In some divorces, a nasty divorce tactic is a one time incident. In others, nasty divorce tactics are perpetual and can go on years after the divorce is finalized.


Liz Wakeman, Attorney, Founder, Wakeman Law Group


Examples of nasty divorce tactics:

Flaunting a new boyfriend/girlfriend to hurt the spouse or make him or her jealous, not paying child support on time to aggravate the spouse, badmouthing and brainwashing the kids against the soon-to-be-ex, parental alienation, and many many more.


Nasty divorce tactics are done with the intention of hurting the other person in some way, again because the person has all this pent up hurt, frustration,  anger, resentment, or a combination of these things.


Lisa Lisser, Divorce and Spiritual Coach, LZL Coaching


Nasty divorce tactics  have consequences. First, they can slow down a divorce process, meaning the couple must spend more time and money before the divorce is final. Secondly, being petty and mean-spirited just makes everything worse. So, if you think you are hurting your spouse, you might be, but you are also hurting your ability to find peace, to heal, to move on.

Nasty divorce tactics also hurt innocent children. They end up being the real victims. If you hold the child support check back, who are you really hurting? But because of their intense pain, many people don’t realize or care, which is really really sad.



Here are 3 specific examples of nasty divorce tactics—appalling divorce behavior, actually:


1. A Summer vacation good-bye kiss and hug denied.

I know a couple who has been divorced for a few years. They have a very strict parenting schedule because that’s what the wife wants. She is never willing to bend the schedule, even if it means her ex missing out on seeing his kids because he is traveling.

The wife was recently taking their three children on a summer vacation for a week. The ex-husband asked her if he could swing by the morning they were leaving and just give the kids a kiss and hug good-bye. He was planning on bringing them some treats from Starbucks for the car ride. The ex-wife adamantly refused and said, “You said good-bye to them last night. Why do you have to do it again?”


Pathways Family Coaching


Here is my issue. I think that the reason for this woman’s pettiness is that she clearly has underlying anger and resentment issues towards her ex that she hasn’t worked out. Secondly, if she asked herself, “Would the kids like this?” (which is a question every parent should ask when weighing a decision like this) and she answered herself “yes,” then she should have let him come over. She didn’t think of her kids, she thought of her own vengeance and satisfaction of hurting her ex (again.) Pitiful, and a very nasty divorce tactic.

2. An Ex and his fiancé mail wedding invitation for his kids to his ex’s house.

This is a disgusting display of trying to twist the knife in the ex-wife’s back as hard as possible. Do people have that much hate that they would stoop to this level to try to hurt the ex? Apparently the ex has his own place, where the kids go frequently, so why not mail it there?

Because the two bitter, angry, mean-spirited people wanted the ex-wife to suffer and feel sad and lonely. My take is that they are miserable, unhappy people. Why? Because happy people don’t want to hurt others like this. The fiancé is actually worse than the ex-husband. Why would SHE want to hurt the woman?? Ugh. Pathetic!


3. Ex husband tries to plant drugs and frame his ex-wife in attempt to get full custody.

So basically, the guy hates his ex-wife so much that he wants to get her out of the picture and take her away from the children. So, his hate for his ex exceeds the love he has for his children because he is attempting to take their mother away. Their mother. This is a very sick person. If any judge found out about this, he would be the one losing custody.


Our Family Wizard


Anyone reading this is surely thinking, “I’ve got one…” meaning an example of nasty divorce tactics. Why? Because some form of bad behavior is present in almost every divorce situation. I am guilty of it myself. I am not going to say I never behaved badly during my divorce and even after (although not to the extent of these three examples). My point is, I’m not preaching because I’ve been there.


But I think the key in avoiding nasty divorce tactics is recognizing it. If you want to do something hurtful or vengeful to your ex, ask yourself two things:

“Why am I doing it?” and “What am I trying to gain from this?”

Sure, maybe it would feel good for a few minutes, and you could get that satisfaction of feeling justice, (like, “he really deserved that”) but what happens after? A, your kids might suffer. And B, I just think it leaves a person with a shitty feeling. No one really enjoys being the bad guy, do we?


As far as being the victim of nasty divorce tactics, remember two things: one, you cannot control what your ex is doing, so don’t try. Accept that you cannot change him or her. Two, take the high road. It is ALWAYS the best road, no matter what.

Instead, lean on faith, friends, your kids, your family and your loved ones. Also, lean on yourself. You’d be surprised how much strength and courage you have that you don’t even realize. And in the end, the high road leads to happy, beautiful, successful places. And maybe, you might see that it overlooks the valley where vindictive people who implement nasty divorce tactics end up as a result of their own bad choices.

Like this article? Check out, “Keep Hating Your Ex. It’s Really Good For you.”


Listen to the Divorced Girl Smiling podcast View the DGS trusted divorce professionals! Divorced Girl Smiling is now offering a private, no-cost, one-on-one phone consult

Sign up for the Divorced Girl Smiling newsletter to get articles on divorce and dating.

Sign up


    Divorced Girl Smiling welcome video
    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

    5 Responses to “3 Examples Of Nasty Divorce Tactics”

    1. Adam Kielich

      These are all really good points. The common thread in each of these, like most rough situations during and after divorce, is that the kids get put in the middle of the conflict. I don’t mean fighting over who gets time with the kids. The kids become turf for a proxy war between the ex-spouses. Truly disappointing.

    2. Chris

      The kids calling me bitch and other bad words and are fighting with the kids outside and calling them bad mama too I don’t know what to do?

    3. Deanna Kunkel

      I agree with two out of the three being totally blatant bad divorce behavior. However, the first one has some hidden issues that may be at play, and likely are why the wife has the strict visitation schedule. The husband had the kids the night before and said goodbye, yet wants to stop over again to say goodbye again the next morning sounds like someone who has trouble respecting boundaries. Often boundary violators use the kids as a way to manipulate to make it look like the person enforcing the boundaries is unreasonable. This is a favorite tactic of narcissistic people. So I don’t agree that telling that father he couldn’t stop by in the morning before the trip was bad behavior. We don’t know the whole story, and often when dealing with narcissistic people, they have a way of painting themselves the victim and others as unreasonable. She was right, he said goodbye the night before, the kids getting Starbucks treats was a way to draw attention to himself, when she was taking them on vacation.

    4. Deanna Kunkel

      One additional thing, calling the wife’s behavior petty isn’t your place. I think you need to examine the dynamics of divorcing a narcissist before judging the choices of others. She wasn’t the one that triangulated the kids, he was. He wanted to make the trip about him in some way, thus treats for the cat from dad. Well, no get them treats when you take them on vacation, don’t try to insert yourself and make yourself look like the good guy when mom is planning something special for her kids. Boundaries are important to have for there to be any peace and it sounds like the husband doesn’t like having to follow the rules. Maybe was a theme in their marriage and now that she is divorced she doesn’t have to tolerate it anymore. The kids will be fine without treats from Starbucks that isn’t going to affect them in the least. And they will be even better without dad stirring drama at the outset of their vacation.

      • Marie Johnson

        This also jumped out at me when I read it. He was just getting himself in there. The night before? Come on! Total narcissistic behavior.. errr.


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *