Meriwether & Tharp, LLC
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If you have divorce questions

Is Your Spouse a “Divorce Bully”?

We are all pretty familiar with the concept of bullying, especially in the context of school or even work. But sometimes, bullying can also rear its ugly head during the divorce process. Even in situations where neither spouse has ever exhibited any form of abusive behavior in the past, bullying during the divorce process can occur. Going through a divorce is complicated and emotionally taxing enough, without the added stress and pain caused by being the victim of bullying. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured or bullied by your spouse during the divorce process, learning how to cope with a divorce bully is the best way to survive the divorce with minimal added trauma.

What does divorce bullying look like? Just like in any other context, divorce related bulling tends to be subtle. For example, your soon to be ex-spouse may bully you by denying you access to your children or threatening to take full custody. Other examples of divorce bullying include lying about past incidents to make you look bad, denying you access to marital funds and assets during the divorce process, or threatening to take certain legal steps to unnecessarily increase your legal fees or otherwise harass or unduly burden you. The sole purpose of this behavior is to scare and intimidate you, so you will give in to their demands.

How do I deal with a divorce bully? First, stay safe. Although divorce bullies are not necessarily abusive, if there is any chance that your spouse may become abusive or violent against you in any way, the most important thing to do is stay safe. Contact the authorities, make alternative living arrangements, and take any other precautions necessary to ensure the safety of you and your children. Second, set clear boundaries. Setting clear boundaries and standing up for yourself is a good way to make it clear to a divorce bully that their behavior will not be tolerated. For example, your spouse may persist on coming to your new home unannounced, or insist that you make rushed decisions without seeking the advice of counsel. Set boundaries and stand up for yourself by informing them in writing that they are not welcome at your home uninvited, and that you will respond to their settlement offers and communication within a reasonable time and only after consulting with a legal processional.

Next, keep records of all instances of bullying. Hold your bullying spouse accountable for their actions by keeping a journal or record of each incident of bullying. This journal should include the date and time of each incident and details of what happened. Be sure to document each incident as soon as possible after it occurs, and label each journal entry with that day’s date. A detailed journal of each incident of bullying will make sure you don’t forget any incident, and may be a valuable and reliable piece of evidence at a hearing or final trial. Finally, seek the help of an attorney.  Bullies try to intimated and exploit the fears of their victims. An attorney can serve and intermediary between you and your spouse during divorce discussions, provide you will valuable guidance, and ease your concerns when your spouse makes an empty threat.


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