Over the years, I have seen several threats or other tactics used by one spouse to scare or control the other spouse. Many of the oldies but goodies have come up recently. Some are as follows
- "If you don’t agree to go to mediation, it will be a war"
- The above is often coupled with, "I will only go to mediation, but not with attorneys" or "but not if you hire an attorney"
- "I was going to give you everything, but now that you hired an attorney, I will give you nothing"
- You will be homeless if you proceed with the divorce
- "The kids and I will enjoy the same lifestyle but I don’t intend on supporting you"
- "I can afford to pay support or equitable distribution but not both"
- "All of the stocks and bonds are mine because I earned the money"
- "I will take the kids from you if you divorce me"
- "I will tell everyone about your _________________ (insert indiscretion or problem here) if you proceed with the divorce
- The preceding is often coupled with, "After I tell everyone, no one will want to talk to you"
- "You will be all alone"
- "The kids wont want to live with you"
These are just a few of many threats that I have heard clients tell me over the year. Typically, the controlling spouse does not want to lose control, either in marriage or in divorce. Often, the controlling spouse has used these type of mind games during the marriage to get what they want. Some litigant’s buckle under these types of threats and stay in a bad situation, often giving their spouse to do divorce planning to set things up for a time when they are ready to proceed with a divorce.
The bottom line is that everyone is entitled to effective and competent representation. There is nothing wrong with going to mediation with counsel (or at least with counsel retained to advise you through the process even if they are not present). Someone who would give everything if you don’t get an attorney, or who promises a war if you get attorney, is most likely seeking to use the threats and imbalance of power to get a deal that is extremely favorable to them self and unfavorable to the other person. Marital fault rarely means anything other than providing a cause of action for divorce.
If you hear these threats, stay strong and speak to your attorney about the best way to deal with them. In addition, get support from your therapist, family and/or friends so that you have some one, in addition to your attorney, to lean on in the face of these tactics.