THE BLOG
21/10/2013 08:27 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Divorce Revenge - Does It Work?

Revenge in divorce is always an interesting topic. It provides some of the most entertaining, and extreme, stories around divorce. There was the Cambodian man who actually sawed the marital home in half. The half he took away probably wasn't much use to him but he did have the pleasure of seeing his ex's house being exposed to the elements - and no doubt experienced the transitory joy of wielding a chain-saw on his ex's stuff.

Then there was the Seattle man who gave his toddler heroin in revenge against his ex. This ticks a few boxes of stupidity; it's illegal, immoral and it'll definitely burn bridges with the ex. What was he thinking? But psychology studies on revenge have shown that if we want to get revenge on someone we are happy to lose £15 if it means the other chap loses £10. Beyond logic, but we can end up doing things that harm us more than the other person just to get revenge.

When you are in the midst of your own divorce horrors it can be a bit of light relief to read about other people's divorce and, who knows, you might pick up some tips for you own divorce revenge. Revenge is one of the most powerful human motivators and it's no surprise that it forms a major part of divorce thinking.

While divorce revenge is an almost irresistible force just consider how much of your divorce revenge fantasies you want to be real before you take any action. You can get revenge, but it's worthwhile thinking how and when.

There are two distinct phases of divorce revenge: 1. Revenge while divorcing and 2. Revenge after divorce.

Revenge while divorcing

This may consists of relatively minor acts such as tipping the ex's stuff into the street, saying naff things about them to your friends and accidentally scratching their favourite items of furniture before they remove it from the house. Petty, and not showing your best side, but understandable.

Make sure this doesn't seep into the public domain. Complaining to your friends in private is one things; posting your grumbles on social media isn't. You might find your lawyer will have stuff to say to you if you are badmouthing your ex in public, however justified you feel it to be. If the worst come to the worst and you end up in court, your tweets or Facebook stories will not look good to the judge.

Emails are also admissible in court, so even if you do think he's a sleaze-bag or she is a money-grabbing mischief, don't put it in the email.

The other big mistake made when practising revenge during divorce is to use the negotiations for revenge purposes. There is the really big nasty stuff - making her fight for the money you know she is entitled to (and that you will eventually give her), just because you can or accusing him of domestic violence (without foundation) just because you can. If you really want to destroy the other person this is a possible strategy, but it will be stressful for you too if you take on this sort of battle. As Confucius said, if you seek revenge, first dig two graves. It will affect you, your ex, your immediate family, friends, and more as with this sort of battle people will either take sides or withdraw in sheer wonder at the horror of it all.

Most people don't do this, but they do exert a delighted revenge in their choice of divorce assets. You choose to keep the Christmas CD not because you like it but because you know it is one of your ex's favourites. He demands the sofa which you lovingly bought together as he knows you value this symbol of family togetherness. Truth is, you can always get another CD and the sofa is old, like the marriage. These things are not worth fighting over but people do it anyway, because this kind of revenge makes them feel they have control over divorce.

Splitting the assets at the end of a marriage demands a cool financial brain combined with an accurate assessment of your own wants, needs and values. Sometimes you will negotiate according to the value of the asset. Sometimes you will negotiate according to your own values, where money might be more or less important to you than a strict financial analysis will suggest. You also have to consider what your time is worth, how long you want negotiations to go on for, what else you are doing with your life and the toll this takes on your health. This is complex decision making and your really don't need to put the intensity of revenge into the mix.

Save that for after the divorce (in my next article, coming soon!)