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Dealing with manipulative behaviour during divorce

August 04, 2015  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

Unfortunately, divorce has the ability to bring out the worst in people. When it comes down to negotiating the particulars of dividing up your assets or dealing with children’s issues, sometimes you will discover a whole new side to your ex. Manipulative behaviour comes in many forms – it may follow on from years of financial, physical or emotional abuse, or may be a subconscious attempt to control the situation. Common issues include trying to convince the other party to make agreements without the approval of their solicitor, pressuring them into make decisions before they’re ready, or simply complicating matters so that the process becomes drawn out to ‘punish’ them. It’s important to remember that however this behaviour manifests and whatever its cause, you DO NOT have to tolerate it – there is plenty of support and guidance to be found if you need help.

Your solicitor should always be your first port of call if you’re concerned about your ex’s behaviour during the separation process. They will be able to give you advice, or work through the issues via your ex’s solicitor so that you don’t have to deal with confrontations. They may also help you draw up some ground rules to share with your ex – detailing how you wish the separation process to proceed.

If you can’t face talking face to face or on the phone, try communicating by email. Not only does this give you some distance, but it also means you have a paper trail of your conversations if you need to show proof of threatening behaviour in the future. Make a note of any incidents involving your ex and keep all documents pertaining to your assets, property and separation in a safe place. And if you fear for your safety, don’t hesitate to contact the police.

A common trick used by those who employ manipulative behaviour is to lure you back in with apologies and declarations of love, only to use it against you once they have your confidence back. Don’t let them control you or put your children in the middle. If you can’t trust your ex to discuss matters without being controlling, fall back on your solicitor’s expertise and keep your distance as much as possible. Divorce is not the place to be trawling through your relationship issues – save that for counselling – treat your separation like the legal arrangement it is and don’t get sucked into emotional blackmail.

And finally, if you’re afraid of going to court, arbitration offers a private, out-of-court alternative that is concluded by an arbitrator making a decision on your behalf. This method is particularly useful for settling financial disputes and may offer a less combative environment to work through your case, while ensuring that your ex is not able to manipulate the situation.

We hope you don’t have to deal with any of the behaviour detailed above, but if you’re ever in need of support from an experienced and understanding family law solicitor, get in touch with the team at Frances Lindsay & Co. We’re here to help!

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