Lori R. Holyfield Attorney at Law

An Advocate Through Life's Transitions

Yes, There IS Such a Thing as Being TOO Nice in a Divorce!

When parties are going through a divorce, and particularly when they have children or are trying to negotiate an amicable settlement (as in an uncontested divorce), I often advise the party who is my client to "be nice" to the other side.  The rationale is that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  That's a saying because it's true!

With that said, there is such a thing as being too nice.  Being too nice is usually a mistake.  You don't want to give away the farm or financially shipwreck your future simply because you're trying not to be "mean" to your soon-to-be-ex-spouse.  There is a difference between kindness and weakness, and there is a way to project kindness while still standing your ground where it matters.  After all, what's the point of all that honey if you're not attracting any flies?

So when I say "be nice," I'm not suggesting my clients waive valuable rights.  The "niceness" I'm talking about is one of tone, and it helps people achieve their goals, not abandon their goals.

As an example, saying to one's spouse, "You're an adulterous #$%^, I hate you, give me alimony" is much less productive than, "You know, I've appreciated the opportunity to stay home and care for the children while you worked all these years, and I know you've benefited from never having to worry about childcare, too.  But now that you've moved on into another relationship and we are getting a divorce, my lack of employment experience is really going to handicap me in finding a good job.  Alimony would really help me recover from this hiccup in my life and put me on stronger financial footing, which will benefit the kids, too.  Ideally, I would go back to school to become a XYZ, but that will take me some time and it will prevent me from holding a full-time job for a few years.  I'll need approximately $X per month for Y years to accomplish this.  Is that something you can do for me?" 

But of course, either one of these positions is probably more beneficial than, "I know you make $400,000 a year and I only make minimum wage right now, but I'm happy to waive my right to alimony so that you won't be financially strained after the divorce."  THAT'S being too nice, and again, it's almost always a mistake.  Remember, although the other party in your divorce is someone you once loved dearly, he or she is now someone whose financial interests stand in direct opposition to yours.  He or she is someone who will no longer be affected if you struggle financially.  If anyone is going to stand up for your financial well-being, it is going to have to be you (with your lawyer's help, of course).

Lori R. Holyfield focuses her practice in divorce and family law and serves Shelby, Tipton, and Fayette Counties in southwest Tennessee.

Find Lori R. Holyfield on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Avvo

Legal information posted or made available by Ms. Holyfield on or through this website is not intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship between any individual or entity and any attorney, including Ms. Holyfield. Such Legal Information is intended for general informational purposes only and should be used only as a starting point for addressing your legal issues. It is not a substitute for an in-person or telephone consultation with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction about your specific legal issue, and you should not rely upon such Legal Information.

Certifications of Specialization are available to Tennessee lawyers in all areas of practice relating to or included in the areas of Civil Trial, Criminal Trial, Business Bankruptcy, Consumer Bankruptcy, Creditor's Rights, Medical Malpractice, Legal Malpractice, Accounting Malpractice, Elder Law, Estate Planning and Family Law. Listing of related or included practice areas herein does not constitute or imply a representation of certification of specialization. (This disclosure is required by the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys.)