How Can I Fight Back Against a Difficult, Vindictive, Confrontational, or Adversarial Spouse?
In many divorces there are no real winners or losers – Each party gives a little and an amicable and fair agreement is reached. But, in a high conflict divorce at least one spouse is not interested in reaching a fair agreement. That spouse wants to inflict emotional, financial, and physical pain on the other spouse. The fight usually involves money and/or children. This article discusses a few of the ways to fight back.
First, if you are dealing with a spouse that is vindictive, adversarial, verbally abusive or any of the other types of confrontational traits, you must realize that your divorce will be a fight. The sooner you can accept this, the sooner you can start to plan. If your spouse tries to control you, the money, the children, or information about their activities, the earlier you need to start to plan for your divorce. A good first step is to see an experienced family law attorney. This attorney should also have extensive experience in criminal law and Injunctions (Restraining Orders). High conflict divorces often involve accusation of battery, assault, criminal mischief, stalking, and theft. The attorneys at Mario, Gunde, Peters, Rhoden & Kelley, LLC have decades of experience in these areas and in high conflict divorces.
You also may need to get ready for a long and hard fight. Your spouse, frequently with family help, may have been planning the divorce before you got married or before you ever met. As cold as it seems, there are people who plan from the very start for an eventual divorce. The warning signs are secrecy and control. In a normal marriage, each spouse would see and share in the paychecks or income of the other spouse. If your future spouse is not up front about their income, how it is earned, and where it goes, you should consult an attorney before marriage. If your spouse does not want your name on marital assets like the marital home, vehicles, or bank accounts, you need to see an attorney.
In some cases, your future spouse is controlled by their parents. Beware if the parents want to control the wedding, where you live, and how much time is spent with them.
A prenuptial agreement can be a two-edged sword. A reasonable prenuptial agreement that is entered into after careful planning, full financial disclosure, and the advice of an attorney can bring stability to a marriage. On the other hand, never sign a prenuptial agreement that is presented days or even a few weeks before a wedding date.
If you are anticipating a divorce and think your divorce may be high conflict, you need to make a plan of your own and start fighting back. The keys are knowledge and money. If your spouse controls the money, you need to start setting aside money for yourself. Once a divorce starts, your spouse may (and likely will) cut you off from any money. You will need money to live on and for attorney fees. Build up your separate funds and keep the money in a place your spouse cannot access. A good place is in a safe deposit box in a bank that your spouse does not know about. Do not hide the money around the house or in your car.
Knowledge is power and if you do not know what your spouse is up to, you are at a disadvantage. You need to become informed. Search your house, family computers, filing cabinets, and cars for clues about finances and your spouse’s activities. You may find money you did not know existed, unknown cellphones or computers, evidence of drug use, gambling addiction, or cheating. If you find suspicious material, copy it or if it cannot be copied, you may want to seize it.
High conflict fights over children usually involve one spouse who will do practically anything to win. They want to cut the other spouse out of the lives of the children. The key is for you to never take a single step back. Stay involved in every aspect of your children’s lives. As soon as you realize your spouse is trying to take control of your children, consult with an experienced family law attorney. Expect false accusations of mistreatment or lack of involvement with the children. Florida Statute 61.13 provides a list of factors a court will look at in a child custody fight. Go over the factors with an attorney to understand how to create evidence on each factor.
In the worst cases, false accusations of sexual and physical abuse are made. If you think your spouse could possibly be capable of making a false accusation, you need to consult with an experienced family law attorney from Mario, Gunde, Peters, Rhoden & Kelley, LLC immediately. We can tell you the steps to take to fight back even before such an accusation is made. If such an accusation is made, realize this is a criminal matter and immediately call an attorney experienced in criminal and family law. Do not make any statements to the police, DCF, or any other person until you have consulted with an attorney. Do not do anything until you speak with an attorney. Immediate actions you think you should take may be the exact wrong thing to do. Call Mario, Gunde, Peters, Rhoden & Kelley, LLC and speak to an attorney.
This article just scratches the surface of what you need to do in a high conflict divorce. The bottom line – call Mario, Gunde, Peters, Rhoden & Kelley, LLC and learn how to fight back. Call 321-631-0506 for a consultation or email using the contact form at the top of this page.