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As we head in to 2021, we are about to see one of the most common New Year’s resolutions. People are going to file for divorce. While being sheltered in place in 2020 may have contributed to that, the reality is that after the holidays and at the end of the year, people take stock in their lives and often decide they need to move on from their marriage.
This is a huge step for many people. That is especially true when you have a bully for a husband or wife. In those cases, there are many important things to consider. It’s very common for the bully spouse to not be open to the possibility of you filing for divorce. So while it’s advisable to talk about divorce if you can, in these cases it may not be safe or a good legal strategy.
When a spouse is a bully, they tend to bring a lot of drama and emotion to the marriage. They will blame you and others for their problems and can be physically or verbally abusive and controlling. It makes sense that you’d want out of that situation and we have some tips for doing so in a safe manner that will protect you in the long term and short term. A divorce from a bully can be high conflict and you want to try and focus on what you want legally.
- Try to let your lawyer do most of the talking for you. If you aren’t going to be able to calmly negotiate issues with your soon to be ex, doing so only rewards their desire for conflict. Come up with a list of goals with your divorce attorney and work with them to meet those goals.
- Avoid interaction. Hopefully you don’t need to live together under the same roof. The less you are around each other, the less you can be provoked. If there have to be exchanges of the kids, ask your attorney for help on facilitating that or get a family member or friend to accompany you when possible.
- If you have been physically abused or feel unsafe, consider filing for an order or protection. This will buy you some peace and safety, at least on a temporary basis and potentially permanently. I highly suggest that you talk to your attorney about this first.
- Don’t feel the need to defend yourself verbally to them. This is much easier said than done, but the reality is that once the divorce is filed, any verbal arguments won’t help your ultimate goal of getting out of the divorce. Nod and smile or walk away if you can.
- Try and establish boundaries. If you are co-parenting, maybe deciding to only communicate by text or email makes sense. Agree to only talk about your child and nothing else.
- Don’t sign off on bad terms just because you want out. Giving up rights to a 401k or equity in the house in order to get out quickly could really hurt you financially.
- Never take legal advice from your ex. This is a huge trait we see in bullies. They are know it alls and will try to tell you what is going to happen in court, what their rights are, how things are going to play out, etc. Often it’s done in a threatening way such as, “I know the law and you are going to lose the kids to me.” They are not looking out for you. That’s why you have an attorney. Game plan with your lawyer and take legal advice from your lawyer, not your ex.
I hope this helps. It’s really just the beginning of thinking about this process. If you are looking for a referral to a tough, experienced Illinois divorce attorney, please contact us any time for a recommendation.