Nine Nasty Things that Divorcing Spouses Say to One Another

Divorce lawyers hear it all. We hear tragic stories, engaging stories, and just about every other type of story.
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Divorce lawyers hear it all. We hear tragic stories, engaging stories, and just about every other type of story.

We also learn of the dime-a-dozen, intimidating remarks that the other spouse says to our clients. These timeless and overused comments are universal and are repeated daily in law offices everywhere. To the lawyers, these statements are meaningless. However, to the client who hears them for the first time, they are devastating.

As far as we know, Paul Staley, a San Diego divorce lawyer, was the first to go online with his list of these worn-out comments. Our Chicagoland clients reside some 2,000 miles from San Diego, but they report that their soon-to-be exes say the very same things to them, and mostly word-for-word.

These spousal remarks seem to boil down to one concept, an attempt on the part of the speaker to control the other partner and/or to control the direction and outcome of the divorce. Here is a sampling of some of the more famous of these utterances:

"I'll quit my job and then what'll you get?" This is the premier, all-time classic. It is nothing to worry about; if one out of a million quits his/her job, that's a lot.

"You can leave, but the kids stay here." Or, "I can fix it so you'll never see the kids again." These are the ramblings of an upset, immature bully. Comments like these are familiar tunes that are used in more divorces than you can possibly imagine.

"I don't mind paying child support, but I want proof that you are spending it all on the kids." This time-honored mouthful ranks right up there with the classics. Don't give it a second thought.

"I'll give the lawyers every last cent before I'll agree to that." This is the same person that shops for cheapest lawyer in town and then tries to weasel out of paying his/her bill in full.

"Your lawyer is an idiot; he's just running up the bill." Or, "It simply doesn't make sense for us to be paying two lawyers." Talk about a control freak. He/she resents not being able to run things and believes they can regain control by driving a wedge between their partner and their partner's attorney.

"Surely overtime doesn't apply to how much I pay in child support, does it? I'll simply quit working overtime if it does." This one is timeless and is probably the second most worn-out remark in divorce. They usually try to get more overtime once the divorce is finalized.

"The pension is all mine, I worked for it." This person probably went to a different law school than we did. The law is bigger than his/her legal opinion.

"The judge can't make me pay you that much. Business stinks and the company is talking about cut-backs. I'll be lucky if I have a job next year." Every divorce lawyer will tell you that the year of the divorce is always the year that sales are down, hours have to be cut, over-time and bonuses are being discontinued, etc. For some odd reason, things always seem to pick up in the year after the divorce.

"You mess with me, and I'm going for full custody." Tell him to go for it. When his lawyer asks him for $25,000 to fund a custody battle, you'll see how much he means it. Talk is cheap and so are the people that say these things. Control freaks always try to use the children as leverage.

We plan to print this blog post and keep it on-hand to show to our affected clients in the hopes of illustrating the unoriginality of their partner's threats, and of minimizing their impact.

J. Richard Kulerski and Kari L. Cornelison are partners in the Chicago area, Oak Brook, IL divorce law firm of Kulerski & Cornelison. You may find them at and at their firm's blog

Richard is the author of The Secret to a Friendly Divorce: Your Personal Guide to a Cooperative, Out-of-Court Settlement.

Attorney Paul Staley may be reached at 877-261-2217, or email Paul's website is

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