Most divorces in Maryland involve a significant amount of emotional pain and stress. Even childless couples who arrive at the decision to end their marriage with little or no disagreement can experience depression, anger, resentment and other emotions that make the divorce process unpleasant. Some divorcing spouses attempt to achieve and wield power over the other spouse by resisting every effort at compromise, negotiation and reducing anger. These divorces are usually referred to as “toxic divorces.” How does a person spot a toxic divorce and, more importantly, how does one deal with a spouse who wants to make the process as difficult as possible?
Toxic divorces are not strangers to the legal system. Most judges have handled a number of toxic divorces, and they have developed methods of dealing with them. First, most judges define a toxic divorce as a proceeding with a high level of conflict. One spouse with the requisite frame of mind can create a toxic divorce. All that is required is a wish to create a consistent string of chaos and ill will. A divorcing spouse in this mood will use any number of techniques to make life miserable for the other spouse: stalking, harassment, physical threats, hiding marital assets and alienating children from the targeted parent.
Most professionals recommend the prompt hiring of an attorney to help deal with the toxic behavior. A knowledgeable attorney can help predict when toxic behavior may occur and, more importantly, knowing when to seek relief from the court. A judge who understands toxic divorces can be a valuable ally to the spouse who wants to end the process as soon and as peaceably as possible. Very few judges will tolerate wasteful delays and refusals to cooperate. A judge has the power to penalize the non-cooperative spouse and thereby force that spouse to do as the court wishes.
Toxic behavior often continues after the court enters the final judgment and decree ending the marriage. The judge will retain jurisdiction over the case and can issues necessary orders curbing toxic behavior.
A person who is suffering through a toxic divorce must also take time for self-rejuvenation through regular exercise, meditation or whatever activity provides relief from the stress of the divorce.