Common threats during divorce

Common Threats Spouses Make During Divorce

Jad J. Stepp

Jad J. Stepp is the managing shareholder of Stepp & Sullivan, P.C., a Houston-based firm that focuses on probate and elder law matters, as well as estate planning, personal injury, aviation, and maritime litigation. For over 35 years he has been trying lawsuits in both federal and state court and has been the lead trial lawyer in complex litigation in many areas.
Jad J. Stepp

Sometimes, even the most amicable divorces can turn ugly. One spouse might feel entitled to a more substantial portion of the custody, community money, or other assets as the divorce progresses. Emotions run high, and the tension grows thick as the process becomes more involved. It’s not uncommon for worrisome thoughts like these to turn into real threats. If you’re going through a divorce and your spouse is threatening you, it’s essential to understand what is a viable threat, and what is nothing more than frustrations being voiced out loud.

It’s important to understand that most of these threats common to sparring spouses are nothing more than that – threats. Most times, these threats won’t have a leg to stand on in court. 

When going through a divorce, be sure to voice any concerns about threats that your spouse is making against you. Working with a trusted and professional divorce attorney can provide reassurance that you’re safe from these threats, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever become a reality. To better understand what risks are real and which are not, let’s review the most common threats spouses make during divorce and why they’re groundless:

Threat #1: “I’ll tell the judge everything and make sure you don’t get custody of the kids.”

If your spouse is threatening to take the kids away during your divorce, there’s a good chance that your spouse is worried about the custody situation. That’s nothing more than a defense mechanism, where your spouse projects his or her fears onto you. Don’t listen or let these threats get under your skin. In many instances, the information they’re threatening to reveal about you won’t alter the judge’s view on how well you raise your child.

Threat #2: “You won’t get a dime out of me.”

In a divorce, you have the legal right to a certain amount of financial support. Texas is one out of nine states that are community property jurisdictions. That means any economic gains (with a few exceptions) acquired during your marriage must be split between both spouses. You’re not asking for anything more than what’s legally yours. Because of Texas’ communal property law, if your spouse gained any financial assets during your marriage, including property and wages – you’re entitled to half of that.

Threat #3: “If you refuse to play by my rules, you get nothing from me.”

If your spouse is used to being in control and having the final say in financial and personal matters, you might expect to hear threats like this. Again, because Texas is a communal property state, you can rest assured in knowing that no matter how threatening your spouse’s words might be, the law stands, and you’ll receive half of what your husband or wife acquired for the duration of your marriage.

Threat #4: “I’ll go to jail before I give you a dollar.”

In Texas, you’re legally entitled to receive both the child and spousal support that you deserve. Texas laws take these matters very seriously, and there are tools the state can enforce to ensure you get the financial support you need to provide for yourself and your kids. If your spouse is vindictive and makes threats of this nature, confide in your trusted attorney and understand that you have nothing to worry about. If a spouse refuses to pay, they in fact can go to jail for contempt of court, although this rarely happens. In almost all cases, a spouse will come to a voluntary settlement before spending even one night in jail.

Threat #5: “I’ll quit my job so I don’t have to support you.”

Unfortunately, sometimes during the most bitter divorce cases, this can happen. In Texas, you can expect that the judge presiding over your case will have severe penalties for any spouse who maliciously attempts to elude their responsibilities. If your spouse purposely tries to avoid working normal hours or their expected capacity, the courts might assign them a fictional income as a basis for your support to ensure you receive the compensation you warrant.

Keep in mind that if your spouse does threaten you in this manner, be sure to get any witnesses to write down what they heard. You might need them to testify that your spouse made this threat. If testimony isn’t necessary, having written documentation will help your case.  

Threat #6: “Your attorney isn’t reliable – you should trust mine instead.”

While you might have trusted your spouse’s opinion during your marriage, going through a divorce means it’s time to trust your own best judgment. Always hire a divorce attorney who you’ve interviewed and who you trust. Believing in your spouse’s divorce attorney is a trap that you don’t want to fall into. The offer to use the same attorney that your spouse hired to accommodate their interests could be an attempt to manipulate the divorce and improve their odds for a beneficial outcome.

Threat #7: “I don’t care about legal fees – I’ll fight you on this to the very end.”

While your spouse might assume you’ll back down and cave into their demands, don’t be shaken by this. If your spouse is threatening to prolong the time it takes to finalize your divorce, inform your divorce lawyer immediately. Once your attorney understands that your spouse is maliciously attempting to draw out and complicate the divorce, your attorney can push your case toward trial. If your spouse continues using delay tactics, the judge can step in. In some instances, a judge will sanction the vindictive spouse to pay for both divorce lawyer fees.

Choose Houston’s Experienced Divorce Lawyers to Represent You

The end results of your divorce can be life-altering. Choosing the attorney to represent you is a major decision and one that you should make with a full understanding of their experience and track record. If only one of you wishes to end your marriage with a divorce, the proceedings can take time, and you might have more to lose than a divorce where both parties want to move on.

The best way to choose the divorce attorney who will represent your needs to the fullest is to hire the most qualified one. The attorneys at Stepp & Sullivan, PC, have more than 70 years of combined experience representing clients in the Houston area. We understand the complex divorce laws in Texas and can answer any questions that you have when a vindictive spouse threatens you. To schedule your confidential consultation, call us at (713) 336-7200 or complete an online contact form today.

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