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Not every couple can go their separate ways with level heads. In many cases, one spouse may be extremely controversial – expressing feelings of anger, resentment, and attempting to make the divorce a living Hell. While divorce is never a walk in the park and always stirs up negative emotions, some may catastrophize the situation. When it comes to splitting up financial assets and property, they may hide marital assets. They may try their hardest to take a majority and leave you with little. If you have children, they may even try to pin them against you, manipulating them into disliking you.

It’s important you protect yourself from toxicity that may come along with a combative spouse – while you’re going through divorce, and even after. You have to safeguard your future as well as your children’s lives. It can be difficult when your ex or soon-to-be ex-spouse is overbearing, manipulative, or narcissistic. But there are ways you can take the wheel. Here are 4 tips for dealing with a toxic divorce…

Make Sure To Get Everything In Writing

With a volatile soon-to-be ex-spouse, phone conversations may end in shouting matches. Limit your interactions to only written forms of communication, such as e-mail, texts, or messages sent between both your attorneys. Written communication can be presented in court if needed. It can also be reflective for you, helping you deal with your aggressive soon-to-be ex or ex-spouse. Make sure you keep your messages short and concise, though. There’s no need to be extremely descriptive. If you receive an extremely explosive message through text or email, try to take time if necessary. You may be tempted to say something that you regret. Don’t let angry messages evoke anger in yourself. With written communication, you have the time to reflect on how you will respond.

Written communication can also be extremely beneficial when it comes to temporary custody and support orders as well as alimony. These may be put in place before the finalization of your divorce. While some divorcees on friendly terms come to verbal agreements and stick to them, high-conflict divorcees may deny ever making verbal agreements. It’s best to have these agreements down in writing. Your attorney can help you establish written orders and file, or you can file with the courts.

Get Financial Paperwork Together As Soon As Possible

An aggressive or manipulative spouse may try to hide marital assets when they know a divorce is imminent. These assets are important when it comes to determining alimony, child support and asset division. These types of assets may include pay stubs and tax returns, bank statements and credit card bills, stock portfolio and retirement account info, and more. They may do this either as a means of obtaining more than you in terms of your financial split or as a means of revenge.

So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s best collect as much financial paperwork as possible before the divorce process. You should run a credit report to help identify financial accounts that are open in both of you names. If you do happen to file your taxes together, you can request a copy of your tax return from the IRS. This may help you in determining whether or not marital assets are being hidden from you.

Leave Your Children Out Of It

An aggressive or resentful ex may actually use your children as a weapon against you in your divorce. This is highly detrimental to children. It’s a good idea – until cooler heads prevail – to have someone with you when you drop off your children. You don’t want to get into a verbal argument in front of them. You can immediately end the conversation if your ex tries to lure you into an argument. If your ex is extremely aggressive and you believe they intend to sue you for full child custody (ie. with allegations of child abuse), keep a parenting diary that details your day-to-day life as a parent. This journal may become a valuable piece of evidence to disprove these types of allegations.

Get A Restraining Order

If you’re ex is overstepping your boundaries, you have full control to file a restraining order. You ex may be sending you angry texts, stalking you, etc. Anything that makes you feel unsafe should be a red flag to file a temporary restraining order for both you and your children.