You might not be surprised at the number of parents who stay married "because of the children". However, some spouses are held virtually hostage in a dead marriage because of custody threats. To find out what the law can do to protect parents in these cases, read on.
It May Not Be Just a Threat
If your spouse is threatening to take control of your children if you try to split from them, you must not disregard that threat. While some spouses use psychological manipulation such as threats to hold on to a spouse that they perceive to be their property, that doesn't mean they won't go through with it. Threats like that are signs of an uncooperative spouse, and you need to prepare for the worst as you file for divorce.
Speak to an Attorney
You can (and should) use the protections offered by the law, and that starts with speaking to a divorce lawyer. Once you do, they will keep your confidence as they work to draw up orders and schedule hearings that address keeping an abusive spouse in check. Verbal abuse is still abuse, and your children could be in danger. The courts take these things seriously, but you must be prepared to show proof of the threats and other bad behaviors. In many cases, the way you act once you are set on a course for divorce will determine how successful you are at having a worry-free and safe experience. To that end, many family law attorneys provide some of the following tips to their clients:
- Keep a log or journal and keep it in a safe place. Note each time you are threatened, dates, times, and the circumstances. Online, password-protected journals can be used free of charge.
- Never make threats in return to your spouse. Keep things as civil as possible by refusing to join in on any contentious conversations.
- Keep your plans to yourself. You never need to spend another moment conversing with your spouse once you take legal action.
- Pay close attention to the reasons custody is being threatened. For example, let your lawyer know if your spouse is accusing you of being a bad parent, abusing drugs or alcohol, abuse, etc. Only by knowing what to expect can your lawyer help you get out of this marriage safely.
- Proof of your spouse's bad behavior can come in handy. If you can safely do so, record them using your smartphone or by other means. Do so only if you know you can do so surreptitiously.
- Seek support from friends and family that you trust. If you or your child's life is in danger, know how to get in touch with a nearby shelter.
To find out more, speak to your divorce lawyer.