Divorce is supposed to be an end, a split apart and a new beginning. If you’re ending a toxic divorce, however, you may find that your ex just won’t let go after the divorce is final. Toxic people have a hard time moving on and can sometimes decide they need to continue and try to hurt or control the spouse that is no longer in their life.
Here are some common scenarios with some advice on how to maintain appropriate boundaries and create a space of happiness for you and your family after a toxic divorce.
There are some people who believe that having a child with someone means owning them and having control for the rest of their life. It is not uncommon to see exes using their children as leverage to dictate who you can date or marry or even have kids with.
It is not uncommon to see an ex try and sabotage someone who is moving on. Behaviors can include not picking up the children on a night you have a date, trying to make you feel guilty by accusing you of neglecting your children in favor of your love life, or trying to micromanage your interactions with the children by dictating what needs to happen on a visit.
As a parent trying to move on, you need to set some very firm boundaries with this. You don’t have to respond to controlling texts, calls, or emails. Keep communication short and to the point. Don’t give your ex the satisfaction of knowing that she is getting to you by overreacting or being argumentative.
When your ex is bullying you, or attempting to manipulate you, it’s time to rely on your custody agreement. That’s why things are spelled out in detail. It’s OK to say repeatedly, “Please refer to our custody agreement”. Your ex is not above the law. She needs to quit using the children as a way to inflict pain.
In all likelihood, one party may get to remain in the marital property. However, if you are that party, you must understand that your ex does not have the right post-divorce to have a key made, enter without permission, or just show up out of the blue when they feel like it.
Your divorce agreement gives clear rights to your marital property so it is not appropriate for your ex to continue to invade your space if she has been told to live elsewhere. It may be that you need to change the locks or even get a trespassing order if your ex cannot respect property boundaries.
Make sure that your attorney insists that all property in the house that belongs to your ex goes with your ex. Leaving property behind and then coming back for it is a way to manipulate and stay involved. Your ex should have a firm deadline to retrieve her property and after that, you should feel free to box any items left and send them to her. After the divorce, your property is yours and you should feel comfortable and safe in your own house.
You developed a relationship with your attorney during your toxic divorce. They know what a toxic ex who won’t let go is capable of. You can’t give your ex an inch because they’ll want a mile and they are trying to continue to control and manipulate your life even after your relationship has been severed.
You can’t control your toxic ex -- you can only control your reaction to their behavior. Lashing out in anger and frustration won’t help the situation. Just like you remained calm during your divorce, it’s time to stay calm now. If you feel that you are being harassed or are in an unsafe situation, talk to your attorney and find out what your options are for relief in court.
If you are in a toxic divorce situation and live in the Atlanta metro area, contact Family Matters Law Group. We’ve helped many clients across Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties move on from their toxic marriage to have happy, productive lives with their families. We’re ready to hear your story and fight for you. Contact us today.