The Right Way to Deal with Legal Threats in Divorce
"I was never ruined but twice—once when I lost a lawsuit, once when I won one."
No one wants to end up in divorce court. After all, it isn’t a happy experience for anyone, even if they win. But today, with practices like collaborative divorce, it’s more and more of a possibility to stay out of the courthouse and create a kinder path toward the dissolution of a marriage.
Still, no matter what you do, you may be unable to keep your ex from using the idea of “taking you to court” as a weapon against you. Threats like “you’ll never see the kids” and “I’ll bleed you dry” can be said in moments of anger, but can paralyze the other partner (usually a woman) and keep the couple from moving toward a peaceful and productive split. And in a worst-case scenario, these threats can paralyze the partner who wants to leave and keep them trapped in a miserable marriage.
So what can be done about legal threats?
This week I sat down with the authors of The Empowered Woman's Guide to Divorce, Dr. Jill Murray and Adam Dodge. Dr. Murray has published a number of books on unhealthy relationships and mental health. She is one of the nation's foremost experts on unhealthy relationships and she has a therapy practice is based in Laguna Niguel, California. Dodge is a former divorce attorney who now devotes his career to empowering women to represent themselves in family law proceedings as the legal director of Laura's House where he advocates for the legal rights of domestic violence survivors and their children.
The Legal Side
The great thing about the law is that it applies to both sides. That means that, depending on the circumstances, if someone is threatening you with taking the children or the house, they may be at fault. Some of the threats and predictions that an angry spouse makes when you bring up divorce may not just be untrue. They may be illegal. Discuss this possibility with a lawyer. And even if you don’t work with a lawyer, examine the threat so that you can make an informed decision about moving forward or not.
It’s important to remember to keep a paper trail if you are receiving threatening emails, texts and voice messages. The threats and threatening behavior are, in the end, evidence. And rather than feeling intimidated by them, feel confident that you can show them to someone who is on your side.
Threats about your or your children’s future can be terrifying. And it’s easy to believe someone when they intimidate you with assurances that “they’ll win” and that they’ll get custody of the children or ownership of the family home. But that might be an opportunity in disguise for logging the threats and letting the law take over.
If you’re considering divorce but would like to try an approach that might mean a brighter future, call my team to schedule a confidential consultation.