The Divorce Ultimatum ”“ A Good Idea or A Terrible Mistake?

The ultimatum ”“ the pinnacle of high-risk-high-reward negotiating tools. If you don’t do X, then Y will happen. In some disputes with your spouse, you may decide that giving an ultimatum is the best way to get what you want. In some situations, it may work ”“ but often, even when you do get what you want, the issuance of the ultimatum can do irreversible damage to your relationship. This is especially true when the ultimatum stake is divorce.

Should I Give A Divorce Ultimatum?

The key to giving an ultimatum is to mean it. Too often, spouses use ultimatums as a sort of “cry for help” ”“ they aren’t truly saying, “If you don’t stop gambling, I am going to leave you,” they are saying, “please stop gambling, I don’t want to have to make the decision to leave you.”

Ultimatums are a last-resort method to change something going wrong in your marriage, not an empty threat that you aren’t fully committed to following through with. Ultimatum = ultimate = final. It’s the last straw, the breaking point, the coup de grâce. Issuing an ultimatum that you aren’t going to enforce will damage your relationship with the person (prolonging the problem) and ultimately will solve nothing for you.

The best way to avoid having to give ultimatums is honesty up front. Be clear about your needs in your marriage and how you are truly feeling, instead of making baseless threats. If you are not yet ready for divorce, try to work out your marital issues with a couples’ counselor or therapist. A third party neutral can offer insight and ideas that the couple is unable to see by themselves.

Our Denver divorce attorneys handle all matters of family law including mediation, arbitration, asset valuation and matters of spousal and child support.