Protecting Yourself: How to Avoid Being Manipulated During a Divorce

Going through a divorce is akin to grieving the loss of a loved one. 

In most cases, the situation is beyond our control and impacts the family dynamic when children are involved. 

Divorce is neither quick nor easy. It demands courage, strength, and understanding from both parties. 

Robin Depies from Confidence & Clarity recently spoke with Lori Barkus from Barkus Law on removing fear and avoiding being manipulated during a divorce. 

Whether you are currently going through a marital separation or a legal professional helping individuals or couples who are going through a divorce, you will find some helpful advice that Lori and Robyn have to share. 

Here’s what’s been discussed;

Conscious uncoupling 

In an ideal world, we want divorce to happen as quickly and smoothly as possible. 

We want a fair and equal share of assets as well as sharing parental responsibilities. 

The reality is it’s not an easy process to go through. Emotionally detaching from your partner is extremely difficult, especially if your partner is divorcing you. 

Consciously removing emotions from the equation is impossible. Instead, we have to try to make decisions based on our logical mind. 

Believe it or not, successfully uncoupling from your spouse requires teamwork and a collaborative approach to finding a possible outcome for both parties. 

Things You Should Be Aware of When Your Partner is Divorcing You

You have just been handed divorce papers, and you don’t know where to begin. 

Naturally, you take the initial guidance from your partner. 

Unbeknownst to you, they have begun speaking to financial advisers, accountants, and lawyers to get the divorce proceedings started to work in his favor. 

In doing so, they have armed themselves with as many legal weapons as needed in preparation for the divorce battle you’re about to enter. 

Where does this leave you? 

No matter how attractive tapping out and agreeing to the terms set by your soon-to-be ex-husband for an easier life, it’s important to remain guarded and alert. 

After all, whatever agreement you sign will affect the rest of your life.

Be wary of a subtle hint of manipulation

Manipulation is not always obvious. 

You may think that your soon-to-be ex-husband is financially savvy by suggesting that hiring a lawyer is unnecessary and expensive. 

They may even suggest that doing so will mess up the whole process. 

They may also promise that they’ll give you a fair and just agreement if you were to go via a mediator instead. 

Should you believe them? 

Tap into your intuition. If you feel they’re showing signs of red flags, don’t do it. 

It’s crucial to find out your rights and seek legal professionals’ advice. 

By knowing where you stand in legal matters, you will be better equipped to understand the next steps forward that are right for you. 

Emotional blackmail

Being on the receiving end of divorce is the worst place to be in. Often you are the last person to find out about your partner’s decision. 

The first person to walk away from a marriage is usually the person who has taken the first initial steps in securing their own financial stability. 

They might even go as far as drafting an agreement that works in their favor, for example, an agreement that supports them in not paying for child support or sharing their retirement fund with you.

In truth, before you have a family, you would have decided as a couple who would be the breadwinner in the household. 

It isn’t unusual to have one person earning higher than the other person. In most cases, women tend to be a stay at home parent, while men tend to take on more demanding and high-paying roles to support the family. 

As is often the case, if you rely on your spouse’s income, you will likely have less control over your finances. 

Feeling like you have no access to any income can be intimidating and humiliating. 

The nail in the coffin is when they know how to pull your heartstrings and manipulate you into signing their agreement. 

It can feel like walking on eggshells in fear that you may walk away with nothing if you don’t play nice with them. 

This is why it is important to try to be proactive in our approach. 

The quicker you find out what your rights are, the more power you’ll have over your situation. 

Fear of walking away

Divorce is not only painful but emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting to have to go through. 

When you have spent a significant amount of time with someone you loved, cared for, and invested in, it’s difficult to walk away. 

Why? Because we become codependent with our partners, we fear being alone.

Fear is an illusion. It tricks you into thinking that you cannot survive without your partner. 

In reality, support comes from other people in our lives, not just from our partners but through our friends and families too. 

It is important during this time to have the right support and guidance in protecting your well-being. 

Don’t allow emotions to cloud your judgment. If your partner has decided to end your marriage, see it for what it is. It’s time to walk away. 

The quicker you accept the situation, the more control you’ll have in decision-making.

What Should I Look for in a Good Divorce Lawyer?

If you have reached this stage of the process, good for you. You’re on the right track.

Finding a good divorce attorney is like finding your perfect running shoes. You need the right support that is not too restrictive and has room for flexibility. 

After all, dividing assets and finances should be treated with a great magnitude of care and due diligence. 

It is advisable to seek consultation from one or two reputable law firms rather than 20-minute free advice. A consultation will give you more detailed and knowledgable advice than free generic advice. 

Communication is a two-way street

The key to finding the right person to represent your case is finding someone you can trust.

They will need to build rapport with you just as much as you do with them. 

Therefore, you want to work with someone you feel comfortable with. 

Before hiring a lawyer, you may want to know whether they have the capacity to take on your case. You don’t want your case to be at the bottom of their list of priorities. 

The more open and honest you are with your divorce attorney, the better and more efficient your and your lawyer’s time will be. 

Retainers should not be excessive

Many family law attorneys require a retainer to formalize your agreement with them. 

It will be utilized to compensate them for their time and effort in fighting your case. To stay on top of things, ask for an itemized bill. 

Most retainers are refundable unless it says otherwise. 

It is important to note that different states have different rules about retainers. 

Do your due diligence and ensure you understand the firm’s billing policies before partnering with them. 

Right skill set

Hiring a lawyer based purely on their personality is not always the right approach. 

For example, partnering with an aggressive lawyer, thinking they could win the case based on their assertiveness, is not a wise decision. 

They may have this no-nonsense attitude which is good in a courtroom, but they may also be unapproachable and brash to their clients.

Ultimately what you want is someone with the right skills and background to get the job done in the most honest, fair, and collaborative manner.

You want to ensure that your lawyer’s ambition matches your own. Besides, you are paying them to make sure they have your back. 

You know you have found the right one when they make sure that all parties, including you, understand what you’re agreeing to. Nobody should sign any document that they did not read or understand. 

Hiring someone that’s not the right fit may cost you time and money. 

Whether the divorce is an amicable decision or not, it is a traumatic experience to endure, but staying in an unstable marriage is torture. 

Surrounding yourself with the right support from friends and family can help alleviate any stress relating to divorce. 

At the end of the day, we all want quick fixes; If we could press Ctrl + Alt + Delete, we would. 

One way to deal with divorce is to deal with it head-on. Don’t be wishy-washy in your approach, or it might bite you where it hurts in the future. 

For more information, you can listen to the original discussion right here

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