Passive-aggression refers to a pattern of indirect hostility or passive resistance, exhibited through behaviors such as stubbornness, procrastination, or deliberate failure to follow through on promises or requests. Everyone engages in these behaviors from time to time, but dealing with people in this manner as a general rule is unhealthy, as well as frustrating to those in one's social circle. Passive-aggressive behavior is especially infuriating in divorce cases, where one spouse refuses to comply with the simplest demands, or promises to consider or take certain actions, then changes their mind at the last minute.
An individual who is attempting to divorce a passive-aggressive spouse typically lives in a state of resentment and fear. The individual fears that the divorce will never happen, or that it will cost them every last cent, as well as every last bit of their sanity. The fear can be so overwhelming that many spouses simply give up on the idea of leaving the marriage. Even those with great psychological fortitude can be broken by a spouse who does everything in his or her power to hold up the divorce proceedings.
So then, just how does one survive the divorce process with a passive-aggressive spouse? A good place to start would be acceptance -- accepting that you will be doing most or all of the work, that your divorce will take longer than expected, and that you will need to work closely with divorce professionals such as attorneys, accountants and psychologists. The most important step is finding an attorney who is compassionate, yet realistic about your specific situation. The right attorney will keep you focused on the task at hand, such as going through your finances, subpoenaing records from your spouse, and finding cost effective ways to resolve your debts and liabilities.
In addition, guidance from your attorney will help you maintain a balance between getting what you deserve versus accepting what needs to happen in order to be divorced. While divorce lawyers are often thought of as aggressive money chasers who push their clients to go to trial, a reputable attorney will only suggest litigation if there's no other option. Going to trial may be the best choice depending on what you need to fight for, and your spouse's overall lack of cooperation. However, a good attorney will thoroughly advise you on the pros and cons of going to court, and of other divorce options such as requesting a default judgment. A default judgment requires time and patience, and you'll probably end up with less than what you wanted, but it may ultimately be cheaper and less stressful than a full-scale divorce trial.
If you're having difficulties with a passive-aggressive spouse, please speak with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Our lawyers have the legal knowledge and trial experience to help you work through your divorce, regardless of your spouse's lack of cooperation. Please consider finding out about your rights and legal options during a free initial consultation.