Common Threats Made During A Divorce Or Custody Case

The following statements reflect the most common threats made during a divorce and/or custody case. This article offers some suggestions on how to deal with these threats. Overall, we usually recommend that you not respond to these accusations. Instead, we suggest that you document these types of statements including the dates, times and places the statements were made as well as keep track of any witnesses who can tell the judge about the circumstances and the threats. While it is best to take the high road if these statements arise, if a threat makes you fearful for your safety or the safety of your children, we do recommend you immediately contact the police.

The below examples are some common threats made by a spouse during litigation. As we stated, 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.

“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. If you can prove the statement and/or intent of your spouse to avoid payments by quitting their job, simply this will not fly before a judge. 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 anyway.

“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.

“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 would be a conflict of interest. Further, experienced litigators will look for ways to save you money and a knowledgeable 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.

“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.

“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.

Summary:
Remember to keep documentation of these threats up to date and provide your 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 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.