Bullying doesn’t just happen on the playground. Many people feel bullied during divorce, either by their spouse, their spouse’s attorney, or the court system. As a trained mediator working with clients through the divorce process, I encourage my clients to stay empowered so they don’t feel like they have little or no control over what happens before, during, or after divorce. There are common bullying tactics throughout the divorce process that can be addressed in a way that minimizes stress and negative outcomes. If you are going through a divorce and you feel like you are being bullied, here are some common “threats” and tips to help you stay empowered and in control.
3 Common Threats from a Divorce Bully – And Tips on How to Stay in Control
1. “I will take your kids away from you or turn them against you if you do not agree to what I’m proposing.”
Simply walk away or respond with “Interesting.” There’s really no way for someone to engage with you when responding with this simple word. Unless you can be proven as an unfit parent, no one can take your kids away from you. If your children are at an age where they can decide for themselves and they chose not to live with you or they blame the divorce on you, just give them time. Give them space, love them, and don’t talk bad about your former spouse in front of them. If your former spouse is trying to turn your children against you, know that in time your children will see through this.
2. “If we get a divorce, you will not get anything we have, including my pension from my company.”
You are entitled to a portion of all marital assets, which can also include a company pension. This is when you need to focus on the known and not on what your spouse is threatening. This is a great time to meet with a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) to get clarity on marital vs. non-marital assets, debt vs. liability, and fair vs. equitable. Having this information will empower you to stand up to idle threats. If you must reply, simply say “Interesting” and walk away.
3. An unrepresented party may be pressured by the spouse’s attorney.
If an attorney sees you without representation, they will try to scare you into settling versus going to court. An attorney may say, “If we go in front of the judge, you will probably owe my client money.” He or she may also say, “You are getting a very fair deal, and unless you agree to it, you will lose this offer if we have to go in front of the judge.” Don’t be afraid of the judge. If you cannot afford an attorney, you can find ways to prepare yourself as best as possible. You can gather your financial documents on your own or consult with a CDFA or a Daily Money Manager (DMM). Being organized is empowering and allows you a better chance of making an informed decision regardless of what the opposing counsel is telling you. By being prepared before going to court, you provide the information necessary for a judge to make the best decision for all parties involved.
Divorce is a painful life transition and it catches people in the most vulnerable state. When I see my clients in this state, my main goal is to encourage them not to react or make hasty decisions that negatively impact their divorce outcomes. Just as we teach our children how to handle bullies on the playground, you need to know how to handle being bullied in divorce. Get the information you need, be patient, don’t engage with anyone who threatens you. Simply walk away or respond with “Interesting.” Stick with the facts, or what I like to call the “known”, and you’ll fare much better through this process.
If you feel you need more help or you feel like you are being bullied and don’t know what to do, reach out to us at www.divorceusolutions.com and we’ll help you get organized, get informed, and get the best outcome for you. My business partner and I are two divorcees who founded a company committed to changing the face of divorce. We keep our clients in the loop by sharing our resources and knowledge in order to provide our clients with confidence and clarity in making very important decisions before, during, and after the divorce process. Even though you may not feel this way right now, #UwillbeOK!