Bullying behavior can be one of the most distressing parts of seeking a divorce. And sometimes it comes out of the blue. Not all divorce bullies were abusive or violent prior to the split.
Of course, this situation adds a great deal of stress to an already-stressful scenario. You may even start to fear for your safety both personally and professionally.
We all hope our exes will be reasonable. But you can’t depend on it. Anticipating this potential problem can help you navigate it correctly when it arises.
What Bullying Behavior Looks Like During a Divorce
Bullying can take many forms. Threats that you’ll never see your kids again. Lies meant to discredit you. Yelling and screaming to intimidate you.
Some people even resort to cyberbullying.
See also: 5 Dirty Tricks Your Ex May Try.
What the Bully Hopes to Achieve
Sometimes the bully is just venting his or her own emotions. There is no overall strategy.
Sometimes the bully is trying to rush you so you agree to divorce stipulations which do not serve you or your family well. In this case it is absolutely vital for you to keep your cool, and avoid playing into the bully’s hands.
What You Can Do
You can’t control this person’s behavior. But you can control your own.
First, take a deep breath and step back. You’ve got to control your own emotions if you hope to deal with this problem.
Second, keep records of every incident. This sort of behavior doesn’t go over well with judges. Your ex may bully his or her way into a settlement that favors you.
Third, recognize you don’t have to keep certain lines of communication open. You can block your ex from your social media accounts (we recommend staying off of them anyway). If your ex is trashing you on social media while you stay silent you’ll emerge as the person with the clear moral high ground.
If you have kids, you can’t shut down all forms of communication, but you can be strategic about which ones you allow. If your ex likes to scream, block his or her number and make it clear you will only communicate via email, or in person while transporting the children. If your ex prefers long email screeds, direct the communication to your phone line.
Of course, during the divorce you have one more excellent option: communicate exclusively through your attorney. Your ex is certainly not going to bully us.
And after the divorce is done, you may just find the bullying stops. There’s nothing more for the bully to gain, and emotions aren’t running quite as high.
If it doesn’t, continue documenting the problem. It may come up later, should you decide the bullying warrants an attempt at modifying your custody agreement.
And, of course, make sure you aren’t engaging in any behavior which could be construed as bullying either. Maintaining control of your emotions and keeping the moral high ground is one of the smartest ways to handle any divorce.