Navigating Emotional Abuse and Divorce in Texas Your Comprehensive Guide

A divorce is among the most emotional things that you can go through. There are the ups and downs of a case to contend with. You also need to concern yourself with the well-being of your children. That’s to say nothing about your emotional well-being. Put all of it together and you have a recipe for stress and overloaded emotions. Experiencing these emotions daily for an extended period means being protecting yourself and those around you. It is easy to feel like there is so much at stake and that all the pressure is on your shoulders. 

There are also situations where you find yourself being taken advantage of by your spouse. Being abused emotionally means having boundaries crossed. We all set up boundaries for ourselves in one way or another. Some of us are better than others at setting up boundaries but we all have them. Lines that we set up that we would prefer that other people not cross. Alerting people to those boundaries is an entirely different matter. 

When your spouse greatly oversteps your boundaries and harms you emotionally there are things to be aware of. This is not behavior that you can accept. Standing by idly while your spouse takes advantage of you in this way is damaging on multiple levels. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are discussing emotional abuse in a divorce context. How to avoid the abuse and what to do when you experience it are at the top of our priority list today.

Emotional abuse- don’t ignore it 

Do you tend to constantly look the other way when something is bothering you? To assume that it is not the bad actions of another person that are wrong. Rather, place blame on yourself and assume that you are the one that needs to change your behavior. Sometimes we can fall into a situation like this. Walking around and assuming that we are the ones who are being overly sensitive or otherwise difficult. This can happen especially in a divorce where you are scrutinizing yourself in your life over past decisions and possible errors.

You also find yourself unconventionally interacting with your spouse. Many times, you and your spouse are put in a situation where you can focus on the outstanding issues in your case. A divorce is the type of case that forces you and your spouse to problem-solve throughout the process. It is not enough to simply assume that you and your spouse can resolve these types of issues without debate. That is how things get done in a family law case.

However, when your spouse oversteps boundaries and begins to harm you emotionally during the divorce then you have reached a point of no return. You cannot ignore issues like this. It is best to handle these issues head-on and face them for what they truly are. Going through a divorce is difficult enough as it is. When you add to those challenges associated with emotional abuse, a divorce becomes extremely difficult to handle.

Talking to your spouse about the divorce

Being caught off guard is never a fun circumstance. Most of us like to be prepared for when we face something in our lives. It is a disconcerting feeling to have our equilibrium thrown off because of a surprise encounter. This is relevant when you consider that talking to your spouse about the divorce is a better idea in some situations than trying to avoid the conversation. To begin with, you can prepare your spouse for what you are about to do. The feeling of being caught off guard extends to family law cases and having a divorce filed.

This does not mean that you must sit down and break down every single issue that you have with him or her. This would be counterproductive. However, sitting down with him or her and explaining that you are planning on filing for divorce is a worthwhile goal. Do not do anything to put your well-being at risk. In other situations, trying to have a civil conversation with your spouse is a potential benefit to all parties involved.

How to begin a difficult conversation

Are you trying to figure out how to begin a conversation like this? Does it sound too good to be true that you would be able to work through these types of problems civilly? Then you are not alone. Many people in your shoes find themselves unable to talk to their spouse about issues that arise on a day-to-day basis in the marriage. Not to mention in a divorce. This is where working with an experienced family law attorney can help. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan Not only assists parties and being able to get through the family law case itself but we can assist in other ways to develop the communication skills to talk through these issues with your spouse is foremost among them.

Gauging the response of your spouse

How your spouse takes the news of the divorce tells you a lot about their mindset. For instance, consider that the initial shock wearing off allows your spouse to take in the news. Put yourself in their position. It is something out of nowhere to be told that your spouse wants a divorce. Even if he should’ve seen it coming, he didn’t see it coming. With that in mind, it is appropriate for you to see how he or she responds to your news. A civil and respectful response is helpful. An aggressive or angry response is a tell-tale sign of bad behavior to come. 

The information previously provided to you about helping this person understand what is happening is contingent upon him acting respectfully. You cannot train your spouse to do these things. A person convinced against their will agrees still. That is a saying that my grandmother used to tell me. I think about that a lot when working with clients in difficult situations. You can only do so much to help yourself and your spouse. 

Does it feel like negotiating with your spouse is a losing battle? Or that the two of you are having issues communicating? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We work with people in your shoes all the time. Our attorneys strive to provide top-notch care for our clients and their families. Even the most difficult spouses can put their best foot forward in a divorce case. Contact us today to learn how we can serve you and your family.

Avoiding the divorce altogether

One of the key ideas that we would like to promote in today’s blog post is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Meaning that for all the effort you put into avoiding emotional abuse, you can avoid the divorce altogether. Very few cases are such foregone conclusions that attempting to talk through your issues wouldn’t be effective. There are ways to improve communication. Let’s spend some time walking through one of those options- counseling. 

Counseling has its share of fans but also its share of detractors. Many people assume that the counselor or therapist is there to play referee or tiebreaker when it comes to your arguments. That is not at all how therapy is set up. Therapy is a way for you and your spouse to develop better communication skills together. It is not a foregone conclusion that you are going to wind up in family court. 

A simple and honest conversation with your spouse may be just what the doctor ordered. Sometimes people will amaze you as they move towards a resolution without much time or effort expended. Learning better communication skills is what counseling or therapy is all about. There is something about being in a place other than your house and facing your spouse that is helpful. Counseling isn’t likely to solve all your problems. However, it can provide you with the tools to solve many of the issues in your relationship. 

Emotional abuse in a divorce- how to address it

Words hurt. The childhood nursery rhymes aside we know that it is difficult to hear someone say something mean about us. Even if we know that the other person is hurting just as badly as we are it still hurts. What’s more, the other person doesn’t even have to believe what is said. Rather, a person can say things just to bother us. The trouble is that this type of behavior is effective. When your spouse sees it have an impact on you then it won’t stop there.

Harsh words and emotional abuse are one thing when they impact only you. However, consider how those words impact your family and your relationship with your kids. This is when the emotional abuse crosses another boundary. Having minor children as a parent of your divorce means taking into consideration the needs of more than just you. These small kids are impacted by issues in your case that you are not even aware of. Kids don’t notice some things, but they do notice other aspects we do not. 

Having a plan and being prepared for the possibility of your co-parent crossing another boundary with their words is important. We don’t want to overly focus on this possibility. However, it would be irresponsible not to. Let’s shift gears and look at how emotional abuse can impact your case even when the harsh words are not said to your face. Instead, look at how this issue impacts your case from the perspective of your children. 

Parental alienation- indirect emotional abuse

One of the most pervasive and impactful types of emotional abuse in a divorce is known as parental alienation. If it sounds like an odd term “alienation.” Many people imagine a situation with little green men running around outside of a spaceship. No, not that kind of alienation. However, the result of alienating behavior is to make you feel like that. As if you were the outsider, the person who could not be trusted. That is what alienation does to you. You feel like a visitor here in your own home. 

Parental alienation is tough to address because it happens outside of your hearing. Your kids are picked up by your spouse for a weekend of visitation. The whole time he spends talking poorly about you behind your back. Your spouse uses the time with your children to turn them against you. Making up stories that cast you in a negative light. This is what alienation is. Whatever can be said about you to cause the children to second guess their love for you. 

As we mentioned, parental alienation is a real-life issue that impacts not only you but your children. When it happens outside your presence there is very little you can immediately do about it. However, there are ways to address this topic within your family law case. Some of these methods can be employed quickly. However, some of them take some time and patience to learn. If you have questions about any of them, the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is here to help guide you.

Addressing the subject of parental alienation

Being direct with your spouse earlier in the divorce process pays major dividends right now. Look for signs of alienating behavior in your kids. Are they less affectionate than they used to be? Or are they asking you strange questions? In other words, are the kids acting funny based on their normal behavior? In that case, you have some work to do and some problems to address. 

Sending an email or text message won’t do you much good, most likely. It’s not likely that your spouse will look at that text message and realize the error of his ways. Rather, you need to be direct yet respectful with how you address this problem initially. Talk with your spouse about the emotional aspects of their words on your children. Most kids are like an art canvas with no paint on it yet. The words of a parent make a mark that cannot easily be erased. Words matter when it comes to a young child dealing with challenges in a family.

Not understanding the significance of their words your spouse may not change. When you see the situation becoming worse it is time to consider legal recourse. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan know how to combat parental alienation. Even if your divorce is not over yet there are steps to take in this situation. Our attorneys have served parents in your situation before and we are here to listen to your circumstances. Again, we offer free of charge consultations for parents just like you.

Look to your court orders for guidance

Many temporary or final orders coming out of a divorce contain prohibitions against alienating behavior. Some cases even involve orders that go as far as to bar the family members of parents from using alienating behavior. In theory, these are needed and helpful orders for parents. In practice, the orders have certain limitations. For one, this type of behavior is difficult to police. You are not going to be present for the alienating behavior. Words are said to your children and then they fade away. Before you know it the subject is changed. On to the next topic of the day.

Emotional abuse and children

Observing your children being exposed to emotionally abusive behavior is extremely difficult. Prolonged exposure impacts your relationship with the children long-term. There is no guarantee that your children see through what is being told about you to them. What options do you have at that point? When there are prohibitions against alienating language it is time to lean on those orders. Work with your attorney to send something in writing to your spouse asking him or her to stop. In no uncertain language point out the court orders barring him or her from using alienating language. From there, express your displeasure and ask for it to stop. 

When and if the language does not stop being used, then consider an enforcement case. Enforcing these orders is difficult, however. Words cannot be captured easily. However, you don’t have many options to consider when it comes to this topic. Allowing your co-parent to engage in this behavior perpetually is not viable. There is no telling how much harm can be done. Hiring an attorney who knows the law and sets a tone for the case matters. When you decide to hire an attorney choose one who takes seriously the prospect of emotional abuse. Thank you for choosing to spend part of your day with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan    

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.

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