(The divorcing person’s guide to the psychological warfare of words that may be expected over the next several months)

This past week two clients have shown me threatening emails from their spouses; and the clients are understandably upset. Unfortunately, threats are not uncommon when parties are divorcing. In fact, over 20 years ago I was given the following list which answers the questions that clients have after receiving the most common divorce threats. By publishing this list, I hope that threats will decrease and communication between spouses will improve:

1. “I will tell them x; therefore, you will never get the children.”

[x can be an affair, the fact that you are seeing an analyst, an “addiction” to two or three glasses of wine per day, or many other situations. Chances are, x has little or nothing to do with the best interests of the children and therefore will be disregarded in any planning for the children’s lives.]

2. “Your attorney is a dud, or he/she is out to get our money”, or “Why don’t we use one attorney and save money?”, or “Your attorney is really partial to you and is unfair to me, etc., etc.,”

[These are divide and conquer tactics. If there is a way to save attorney fees and costs, we are looking for it as well and will be glad to discuss it with you.]

3. “Unless you play this my way, you’ll never get a dime.”

[The threatener has been used to being in charge of things, that is no longer the case. The community property will be divided equally. Support will be awarded according to the facts of the case.]

4. “Why are you trying to take my money” (my pension, my children, etc.)?

[The answer is simply because you are entitled to it and you are willing to share.]

5. “I will go to jail before I pay you a dime.”

[So be it. There are various ways to enforce support obligations through wage assignments; ultimately, contempt of court can mean a jail term. However, this is very rarely the case and most of these people end up paying voluntarily.]

6. “I’ll quit my job before I’ll pay you that kind of money.”

[Attempt to get a witness to this kind of statement. If intent can be proven to avoid support obligations by quitting one’s job, these support obligations would continue at the same level.]

7. “When the judge sees my expenses, he will award less (more) than the support from the ‘schedule’.”

[This is not true unless there are extraordinary expenses. It should be remembered that the supported spouse will get less money than needed and the supporting spouse will pay more money than can be afforded.]

8. “You’ll never see the kids again.”

[There are uniform acts to prohibit child-stealing. The court automatically enjoins each party from taking the child out of state without the other’s written consent or a court order. A parent who plans to move to avoid visitation will find that the visitation is scheduled for much longer periods of time and involves additional expense of travel. Failure to allow visitation is one of the reasons why the courts change custody from one parent to the other.]

9. “I will consider reconciling with you only if you sign this agreement.”

[If you are going to reconcile, why do you need the agreement? Or why must the agreement be in favor of the party making such a demand? Be extremely suspicious of any such statements.]

10. “If you don’t see this thing my way, the judge will order that we sell everything.”

[The court will not order the sale of an asset unless there is a good economic reason for it or it is in the best interest of both parties. Instead, the court will generally do all or a combination of the following:

a. Award individual assets or obligations to one or the other party;
b. Award an asset to both parties ½ and ½ because the asset, such as a limited partnership, cannot be valued, or;
c. Provide that one party receive an asset such as a residence conditional on an equalizing payment or note to the other.]

If you have questions regarding divorce threats, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. The Law Office of Family Law Specialist Richard E. Bawden also handles legal issues regarding adoption, annulment, mediation, domestic violence, child custody, child support, spousal support as well as pre-marital agreements. Telephone (909)792-0222, or email us at [email protected]

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