We have all heard the phrase “Minnesota nice” and many of us are okay with the fact that others see us as kind, polite and well-mannered people in general. However, the fact is that we are not always nice. We can be aggressive, angry and unforgiving when it comes to protecting ourselves and our families. That is why divorces in this, and any other, state can get so ugly.

Divorce can be an extremely difficult and contentious process. It can test our patience and willingness to compromise, and we can struggle enormously when it comes to managing our emotions and expectations. But if Minnesota couples need a compelling example of why it can be beneficial to try and stay nice during a divorce, they can look at the lengthy, bitter dispute between two spouses in another state. According to reports, the woman was harshly penalized for her refusal to play nice.

The woman and her husband had been fighting since 2008. Their disputes have played out in headlines and public statements, as each of them hurled accusations and criticisms at one another. However, the woman reportedly took her attempts to destroy her husband’s character a little too far and ended up paying a hefty price.

The man is a partner at a law firm and reportedly his partnership is worth about $5 million. Had the divorce proceedings gone more smoothly, the woman would have likely been awarded $2.5 million of that, as it is considered marital property. Unfortunately, that amount was sharply reduced when a judge determined that the woman’s public sentiments about her husband were so hurtful and negative that they affected his business and income. Because of this, the judge dropped her share of the man’s partnership from $2.5 million to just $855,000. While that is still a lot of money, it is just a fraction of what she could have been awarded.

This is a strong example of what can happen when emotions get in the way of a fair divorce settlement and why it may be beneficial to minimize the mud-slinging. While it may be satisfying in the short-term, attacking someone’s character in public could end up doing more harm than good. 

Source: Gothamist, “Judge Slashes Ex-Wife’s Divorce Settlement For ‘Biting The Hand That Fed Her’,” Jen Chung, April 9, 2014