I want the judge to know everything awful about him/her. During a marriage people say things they shouldn’t have said, do things they shouldn’t have done and later look back regretting what was said or done. One party (or both) will inevitably feel upset and want the judge to know everything their spouse ever did wrong.  Unfortunately, the judge’s main objective is to determine the future for the children and to divide the assets/debts and not to focus on one spouse’s conduct toward the other. If the conduct does not have an impact on the children, the judge does not want to hear about it. The more a party presents nit-picky details concerning a spouse’s conduct, the more that spouse’s credibility deteriorates, (particularly in Arizona which is a no-fault state).  We often say the judge will look at the forest and rarely has the time to inspect each tree.

He/she lied… I want to report it.  Inevitably after a trial or hearing, one party believes that the other party lied and they should be prosecuted for lying under oath.  Very rarely, if at all, are parties in family court proceedings prosecuted for lying under oath.  I don’t say this to encourage either party to lie because that is not acceptable under any circumstances.  But instead of focusing on the lie and being emotionally affected by it, remember that the lie may be used to impact the liar’s credibility at a future hearing with contradictory evidence. When the other party lies under oath, as frustrating as it is, it often can help the case.

He or she is a narcissist. At the rate family law practitioners hear this phrase, I suspect that everyone is either a narcissist or they married one.   Divorce is often a personal choice of one spouse which leads to many other choices that are made independently.  The inability to work with the spouse in making these decisions, or other decisions during a divorce process often results in one spouse believing that the other spouse is selfish and a narcissist. In a divorce, people will be selfish and they will look out for their best interests without consideration for their spouse.  Although it is often hard to grasp because decisions have been made together for years, if not decades, each step a spouse takes during a divorce and the divorce law often encourage selfish decision-making.

It’s not about the money. It’s about the principle of it all. One spouse feels like they have been let down, given the run around, put up with too much for a long time or they believe they are right and so they are willing to spend whatever it takes to prove it and get back at their spouse.  I advise clients against this.  No amount of money is worth proving a principle which is most cases is never vindicated.  Judges are more concerned with ensuring the children are safe, and assigning the assets and debts.  Looking back five to ten years after the divorce is finalized, I believe that each client would much rather have the money than to have had the principle issue/s glazed over by a judge.

I want you to be a shark attorney. Shark attorneys are the attorneys that will fight tooth and nail for your case often riding the ethical margins, they act like they know it all, they may scream and yell when things are not going as they’d wish, and they are rude or antagonizing to the other party and/or attorney.  Some people rush to this type of attorney because they think they will get any and everything they want this way.  The reality is this: (1) Higher legal fees: a shark attorney will force you into litigation because they have no willingness or ability to settle or compromise; (2) Reputation matters: attorneys practice day-in and day-out amongst each other and amongst the same judges.  I once learned from a very wise judge that the judges talk to each other and they talk about the attorneys.  Judges dread when they see the adversarial shark attorney’s name on their calendar that day and you, as the client may unintentionally be impacted by this.  The same can be said for the attorney on the other side of the shark—when they see a shark attorney’s name on the other side, they know settlement is unlikely and to prepare for litigation; (3) Purpose & Time:  What is your real intent behind the divorce? To move on? If so, a shark attorney will most often slow the process and prevent closure in your life for a longer period of time; and (4) Professionalism: Each attorney is bound to conduct themselves professionally and to hold the highest level of integrity.  In my opinion, a true shark is not able to do this.

Divorce is a rough process for most.  Each of these statements often stems from some emotional frustration that has built up inside.  I have observed that the people who seek counseling to help adjust emotionally will often have clearer minds when approaching the legal aspect of divorce and will come out of the divorce feeling much more accomplished after taking the higher road.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Top Five Common Divorce Statements, or other family law issues,  please feel free to contact our Family Law Section at  480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.