Cutting Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face

This often-used phrase means:

To cause unnecessary harm to yourself for the sole purpose of spitefully causing damage and destruction to another person. 

When couples are breaking up it is common for one or both to catch a case of cutting-off-your-nose-to spite-your-face-itis.  This disease causes singlemindedness- to hurt the other person . Often this comes with a side effect of not  taking into consideration the consequences of one’s actions on yourself and your children.

Cutting Off Your Nose To Spite Your Face

Here are some symptoms that you have caught this illness:

Letting the House go to pot– The marital residence is often the most significant asset that a couple owns.  Failing to take care of the property  can lead to a decrease in the value.  While this may provide  your spouse with  less money from a sale to a third party or a buy out from you,  you are also ensuring that your share of the property is worth less.  

Let me give you a war story:

H & W buy a house for  One Million Dollars(!).  It is a large house , located in an exclusive neighborhood.  After a few years, H  moves out.  H has both the skill and the means to keep up the house but decides it is better to squeeze W out and let the house go. After all, he figures, it can be fixed in the future.  During the divorce, the house’s value depreciates to $850,000.  W  lives in the house for a few years but H does not make any necessary repairs so W  becomes frustrated and moves out.  H thinks he has won because he can now sell the house!  However, due to the condition of the house it goes on the market for 30% less than the purchase price. One offer comes in for 40% less, but the potential buyer withdraws the offer when all of the issues come to light.  For a fraction of the $400,000 (plus) loss, the house could have been cared for.  How did H “punish” W whose share was bought out years before?

 Getting your spouse fired– Incessant calling; false accusations; spreading rumors, etc. can cause someone to lose her job.   Spousal maintenance and child support are calculated based on income.  A decrease or complete loss of income will lead to lower payments of spousal maintenance and child support .

Spending spree   You know things aren’t going well in your relationship, so you decide to fill up your soon to be emptied closet. You might get stuck with these bills and ultimately have less money.

When distributing assets, a court can take into account the wasteful dissipation1  of assets by a spouse so that there is recourse, but why spend a lot of money defending yourself when you could have just been smart upfront? 

While going through a divorce is an emotional process, try to keep in mind the consequences your actions may have on your own life before acting!


1 Domestic Relations Law §236-B

Margaret Tabak

Margaret Tabak

Margaret C. Tabak has been an attorney since 1988, starting her career in Schenectady and moving her practice to Guilderland in 1995.  The law firm is located in Great Oaks Office Park (near Crossgates Mall).  Margaret counsels clients in all matters related to matrimonial and family law.  A resident of Guilderland for more than 25 years, Margaret received her undergraduate degree from SUNY Albany and her law degree from Albany Law School.  If you have questions about a matrimonial or family law issue, contact Margaret for a consultation.