Episode 218: How to Leave a High Conflict Marriage w/Karen McMahon, Certified Relationship Coach
On this episode of THE Amicable Divorce Expert podcast we learned that leaving a high conflict marriage in which there is financial abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and physical abuse, has its difficulties, but it’s not impossible. It just requires education, a support team, and maybe a loan from a family member or friend.
Education first: Go online first to become aware of the divorce laws in your state, to include the various ways an attorney can be paid. If there is money in the family reserves, and/or a house that is owned by the spouses, even though the abused spouse may not know about the extent of the family wealth, an attorney can file for emergency spousal support and attorney fees. Not having access to enough money to pay for an attorney doesn’t need to prevent the abused spouse from hiring legal representation.
Using a friend’s computer is a safety measure that prevents the abuser from knowing that the abused spouse is considering leaving the marriage. If the high marriage includes domestic violence or the threat of physical harm, this level of privacy is needed.
It’s also a good idea to open a separate email address that doesn’t go to the family home computer, or is part of the family internet or cell phone account again, for safety and privacy.
Running a credit report on both spouses can be one way to start unraveling the family financial picture. A credit report is important to run in any divorce because it allows a person to clean up their credit profile, remove listings that don’t belong on the credit report – mistakes happen – and to see a list of credit cards, collection accounts, installment accounts, revolving accounts, and indirectly bank accounts if they’re connected to the aforementioned debt accounts.
A High Conflict Marriage turns into a High Conflict Divorce because it can’t be amicable unless the abuser spouse finds that it’s in his/her best interest to put on a “happy face”. But that happy face will show cracks as the filing goes on. And that happy face can easily be hiding financial information. Its best to hire a lawyer in a high conflict divorce, especially if there is financial abuse, because a lawyer is equipped to obtain financial records easier the the abused spouse. But when victims become empowered, they can move mountains.
I do know of a couple women who self-represented themselves against powerful, expensive law firms and did just fine in Court. In these few cases, the women mustered self-confidence, presented themselves respectfully and calmly in Court, and did their research. Their paperwork and knowledge of family law was in order. Karen McMahon, our guest on this episode, stated that hiring a bully lawyer to represent the abused spouse against a bully spouse is sandwiching themselves between two bullies. Best to have an attorney who is thorough, on time, creative, ethical, and respectful at all times. And my attorney colleagues have told me that Judges don’t like bully attorneys who try to pummel the other spouse.
Timing is everything in the advance planning to exit the marriage and the house. Having all ducks in a row, knowing the law, having an attorney guide this process is, will create a safe transition, hopefully.
On-going, a good divorce support team is essential. Having trained professionals like therapists, coaches, friends and family who will encourage good decisions while not trying to manage the process. A support team is there to support, not stir the pot and create more havoc; not to criticize, not to judge but simply to listen, empathize, show compassion, and provide mental and emotional space to breathe and think clearly for perhaps the first time in years.
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