A Divorce Solicitors Guide to Handling a Toxic Divorce banner


A Divorce Solicitors Guide to Handling a Toxic Divorce

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If you are or were in a toxic relationship the thought of starting divorce proceedings against your husband or wife can be daunting. In this article, our London divorce solicitors offer guidance on how to handle a toxic divorce.

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For divorce and family law legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

What is a toxic relationship?

Relationships and marriages can break down in many different circumstances. Even healthy relationships can come to an end. In a toxic relationship, one partner can fear how they will be able to handle a separation or divorce because of the behaviour of their husband or wife.

Divorce solicitors find that some people do not recognise that they are in a toxic marriage because they are so caught up in their partner’s needs or with juggling work and family life.

Signs of a toxic marriage include:

  • One partner wants to exert control over the other so the relationship is totally unequal
  • The relationship is full of conflict and competition
  • Gaslighting occurs - when one spouse emotionally and psychologically controls and manipulates their partner so the gaslighted partner begins to question their own perceptions of events

Some toxic marriages involve physical assaults but not toxic relationships involve violence. Domestic abuse can be subtle with one spouse exercising financial power or coercive control over their partner. In many toxic relationships, one spouse becomes isolated from friends and family with the intention that it will make it harder for them to gain perspective on the nature of their relationship and the damage it is doing to them. That is why it is particularly hard to leave a toxic marriage.

Ending a toxic marriage

Ending a toxic marriage is difficult because your husband or wife is likely to want to control you and your feelings and make you question your emotions and judgment. To gain the strength to separate or start divorce proceedings you may need to see a counsellor, speak to a divorce coach, or regain contact with your friends or family. A divorce solicitor can help you with legal advice on:

  • Getting a non-molestation injunction order so your husband or wife cannot physically or emotionally abuse you
  • Getting an occupation order so you can stay in the family home until the divorce court decides if the house should be sold or transferred and makes a financial court order or until you reach a financial agreement with your husband or wife
  • Child custody and contact arrangements but if the parenting arrangements cannot be agreed upon, or you are concerned that your child might be at risk, a court application for a child arrangement order or prohibited steps order can be made
  • Child support and short-term financial support so you can pay your bills until you reach a divorce financial settlement or the court makes a financial court order
  • Advice on your best divorce financial settlement options so that your family assets are shared fairly in a way that meets both of your respective needs
  • No-fault divorce proceedings – your husband or wife will not be able to object to a no-fault divorce other than in very limited circumstances

In addition to legal advice, a divorce solicitor will also guide you on the best way to reach an agreement on child custody and contact or a financial settlement. Their focus will be to try and prevent your toxic marriage from becoming a high-conflict divorce. Why? In high-conflict divorce, financial divorce settlement, or children law proceedings the only winners will be the divorce lawyers. That is because the court proceedings will be bitter, contested, and protracted but you will not necessarily get a better outcome just because your ex-partner wanted to engage in mudslinging or you got sucked into their war of words.

In a toxic divorce, you need honest pragmatic legal advice from specialist divorce solicitors together with the support of someone you trust, such as family, friends, a divorce coach, or counsellor (or all of them) to help you through your separation and divorce.

Tips on handling a toxic divorce

Our divorce solicitors have put together these 3 top tips on handling a toxic divorce:

  1. Choose your family law and divorce solicitor with care – you do not want a divorce lawyer who cannot stand up to your husband or wife but nor do you want someone who is going to increase the conflict for the sake of it. Your family lawyer needs to be focused on what is important to you and your family so you get the legal support you need
  2. Do not be afraid to say you are in a toxic relationship or to get professional support – many people who are in a toxic relationship are told for years that they are ‘mental’ or that no one likes them or that they are so stupid that their husband or wife has had to take control for their own good. Does that sound familiar? You can be made to feel as if your husband or wife is the one who is in the right and being protective of you and your failings. You can be told that it is a sign of your poor mental health that you are applying for a divorce or seeking support from a therapist or psychologist. With professional help you can get the perspective you need
  3. Look to the future- when you come out of a toxic marriage the future can appear to be frightening and uncertain. However, remaining in a toxic relationship is not good for you or your children so you need to find the confidence to understand that you are doing the best thing for yourself and your family by gaining control of your future

Online and London Family Law Solicitors

For divorce and family law legal advice call the expert London family lawyers at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form .

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