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The Lies Divorcing People Tell … and What to Do About Them

Rachel Alexander Jan. 27, 2021

{4 minutes to read}  Early conversations about divorce can be inflammatory and emotional. In fact, they often are not conversations at all, but rather proclamations, threats, cries, intimidations, verbal grabs or pushes, or tests. When divorce is first mentioned, emotions run high and people lash out — on one another as well as themselves. Threatened and frightened people tend to say horrible things, that are both hurtful and damaging.

Below are some common lies divorcing people tell, identified and fact-checked:

Financial Lies

Lie: You’ll get nothing. (the monied spouse)

Lie: I won’t give you …. (the monied spouse)

The lie is the word “give.” Just because you earn it, doesn’t mean it’s yours alone. Just because one person’s name is on it, does not eviscerate the rights of the other spouse to an equitable share of a marital asset. Equitable distribution is about following the LAW of our land — it’s not about benevolence or giving — it’s about dividing what belongs to BOTH of you.

Both parties have rights and responsibilities for whatever was accrued or lost during the marriage, regardless of whose name is one the asset or debt.

Custody Lies

Lie: You’ll never see your children again. (the more primary parent)

Lie: I will/won’t let you have overnights, have 50% custody, see the kids whenever you want …. (the more primary parent)

The lie is in the “let” — no one parent gets to dictate what will happen — both parents will establish a parenting schedule based upon what is best for the children.


Lies you might tell yourself (self-terrorism — you might have to be on your own terrorist watch list!)

Lie: I’ll be homeless.

These are painful lies that divorcing people tell themselves — the grown up version of children scaring themselves with what is under the bed or in the closet after lights out. Regardless of the range of background, education, employment history, socio-economic status: many dissimilarly situated, good people, share the same fears.

Anecdotally, having served the divorcing population for well over a decade, zero — 0 — people I have worked with have become homeless. As families expand into two households and increase their expenses, some financial uncertainty and adjustment is a normal, and often temporary, consequence of divorce. Financial destitution, ruin and, g-d forbid, homelessness, are more a manifestation of fear-based survival brain, not a likelihood and certainly not an inevitability. If you are having this fear, soothe it.

Survival Brain: when threatened with loss, uncertainty, and even simple change, we humans get taken over by our primitive, reptilian brain which shuts down our analytic capacities and narrows our focus to a survival lens.

The best thing to do is return to your calmer, more integrated mind as soon as you can. No viable solutions come while the primitive brain is in charge.

With your evolved brain activated, solutions arise and problems can be creatively resolved.

Part II of Lies Divorcing People Tell proposes strategies for dealing with lies and mitigating their harm.