It never fails that every week we get a frantic phone call from a client telling us that their soon to be ex is threatening to take inappropriate, and sometimes illegal action. Below we have listed common examples of threats made by a spouse during litigation.
In our opinion, the best thing to do is ignore these statements and move forward with resolving your case. If you engage in an angry exchange of words, not only will that impair your ability to quickly and amicably resolve your case, but could also look bad before the judge if the Court determines that you are equally uncooperative or problematic to the litigation process. Just know that 99.9% of the time the threats listed below are not reasonable and if your ex follows through, the action will be viewed very negatively by the judge in your case.
Threat #1: "I'll quit my job and I won’t have to pay you anything."
Try to get this comment in writing or try to get the opposing party to say it in front of other people. If you don’t have a witness or a written admission, it will be difficult to prove the other side’s intent to avoid paying support. Regardless of whether you have the threat in writing, you should know that your spouse cannot simply change their obligations by quitting their job, voluntarily taking a demotion or cutting back their hours. Further, if a spouse does take such actions to avoid making payments, it is likely the Court will require your spouse to find a way to make the payments of support anyway. Quitting to avoid support payments in a divorce or custody case is not an option.
Threat #2: "I will tell them ‘a, b and c’ and you will never get the children."
“A, b and c” could be anything whether it is true or not. This could be anything from a wild night out with your friends to a prior affair to the fact that you may have seen a therapist or psychologist. Simply, this threat has no teeth. Judges determine custody and visitation based on the best interests of your children. It is the extremely rare circumstance that a parent “never gets to see the children.” Remember that these threats are designed to intimidate you and upset you. Chances are the “a, b and c” are not relevant to your custody case and should be ignored. Remember though to document the threats and identify any witnesses who may have heard the statements.
Threat #3: “Your attorney just wants your money” or “let’s just use my attorney and save money”
This type of threat is designed to divide and conquer. Any ethical attorney knows he cannot represent both parties in a divorce or custody case – this could be a conflict of interest. Further, experienced family law attorneys will look for ways to save you money and a knowledgeable divorce or custody attorney should be able to resolve your case quickly without unnecessary expense and prolonged litigation. Plus, most clients become aware early on if their lawyer is incompetent or does not have their client’s interests prioritized. A statement like this is best documented and then ignored.
Threat #4: "If you don’t divide things the way I want, the judge will order that we sell everything."
It is very rare that a Court orders a sale of all of the assets unless there is good reason for it and the Court finds it benefits both parties more than just awarding assets to one party or another. Sometimes the Court will award an asset to one spouse and order the receiving spouse to reimburse the non-receiving spouse one half of the value of the asset. Again, this type of threat is usually without merit. You most likely will not be ordered to sell your prized possessions, your cars and/or your real estate.
Threat #5: "You'll never see the kids again."
Kidnapping in Nevada is a Category D Felony and carries jail time as well as fines. Further, a spouse that kidnaps the children is likely to be the spouse that only sees the children through supervised visitation. A parent that intentionally and continuously interferes with the other parent’s custodial time may have their own custodial time reduced or eliminated. Failure to allow visitation is one of the reasons why judge’s change custody from one parent to the other. This threat has no merit. Document it, identify witnesses and then ignore it.
Remember to keep documentation of these threats up to date and provide your family law attorney with updated copies as new events are documented. If any questions about how to deal with these or other threats please feel free to contact me to discuss. But remember, such threats are common, and will usually backfire on the person making them, especially if you keep an accurate and timely journal. Don’t be intimidated or get upset when you hear such threats and comments. Rather, simply realize that these tactics are common in many litigated divorce and custody cases, and in the long run, usually amount to nothing. Moreover, the less your reaction to such threats, the less likely they are to continue.
If you or someone you know is in need of an attorney for a custody or divorce case, call us at (702) 433-2889 or fill out our on-line form for more information. We can help.
Other articles that might be helpful: Child Custody, Divorce, Father's Rights in Custody Cases, Myths About Custody Court, 5 Tips For Getting Divorced Fast