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The importance of setting boundaries during the divorce process

Most relationships work best when there is mutual respect and a certain amount of give and take between two parties. In some marriages, however, there is an imbalance of power where one spouse takes more control. In cases where a power imbalance escalates to where one spouse attempts to exert more control over the other by withholding finances or engaging in behaviors that are physically or emotionally abusive, divorce may be the best option.

Individuals who are going through a divorce and who have concerns that the relationship with a soon-to-be ex may grow increasingly contentious and even potentially hostile, would be wise to take steps to set firm boundaries. Not only can setting boundaries help head off potential conflicts, but doing so also sets a benchmark by which an individual can measure and document when an ex crosses a boundary.

Limits that are good to set during a divorce may relate to an ex’s attempts to enter a previously-shared home, child custody handoffs, child support payments and general communication. If a soon-to-be ex was pushy and overbearing during a marriage, the loss of control that he or she is likely to experience during divorce proceedings may intensify such behaviors.

It’s important, therefore, to openly address one’s concerns and to set firm limits. However, because emotions are likely to be running high for both parties, it’s also wise to take action to reduce the likelihood that a situation could escalate to involve a verbal or physical altercation. It’s often best, therefore, to communicate via email or text message only and to keep communications short, to the point and business-like.

Communicating via email or text only can reduce conflict and also make it easier to document when an ex is acting out in an obstructive, inappropriate or threatening manner. In contentious divorces, documented evidence of an ex’s indiscretions may also be submitted as evidence during divorce and child custody disputes. If, at any time, an individual feels that his or her safety or the safety of one’s children is in danger, he or she should take action to obtain a protective or restraining order.

Setting boundaries with an ex-spouse can be difficult. It also, however, can be extremely empowering and help bolster an individual’s resolve when it comes to negotiating a favorable divorce settlement.

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