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Watch out for psychological abuse during your divorce

Divorce can seem like a betrayal. Even a process that is going along amicably can derail if one spouse suddenly becomes overwhelmed with emotions. It is not uncommon for a former partner to play dirty to gain an advantage over the other spouse or simply to exact revenge for perceived wrongs.

You may think you know your spouse well enough to be able to predict whether he or she will take vindictive actions against you. However, during a painful divorce, it is never wise to make such assumptions.

Common methods of manipulation

Whether you and your spouse intend to negotiate your divorce settlement or are already planning to head to court, you are wise to be alert for signs that your ex is making a power play against you. In a moment of panic or after receiving some bad advice, your spouse may be capable of any of the following or other psychological tactics that may complicate your divorce more than you can imagine:

  • Refusing to allow you access to the children
  • Filing for sole custody as a way to obtain more leverage during proceedings
  • Forcing you to communicate with him or her through your attorney in order to maximize your legal fees
  • Filing numerous frivolous petitions with the court to prolong the divorce and to keep you off balance
  • Refusing to provide you with financial assistance or household expenses unless a court orders it
  • Withholding any court-ordered support payments until the last possible day
  • Using joint credit cards until they are maxed out
  • Taking all the money from your joint bank accounts

Many of the negative tactics your spouse may use will have immediate financial consequences. You may find yourself unable to pay for utilities, your mortgage, food or gas for your vehicle. This may require you to ask your ex for help or place you in a vulnerable position when it is time to negotiate terms. Your ex will have the advantage, and you may face a future of financial struggle and uncertain custody privileges.

You may be fortunate to avoid most of these issues, but it is best to be prepared. Your Virginia attorney, who has experienced many levels of contention in divorces, can advise you on the best steps to take to protect yourself from a spouse who may blindside you with schemes to keep you in a position of weakness. With strong advocacy and skilled representation, you may meet your goals for your divorce and anticipate a brighter future.

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