We know you are really, really busy (boy, have we heard that a lot), but if you have a few minutes maybe you could sit down and read this. Or not. We don’t suppose it really matters. It’s just about your kids, and some post-divorce issues you may face as a Virginia man. Things like your kids, and your ex-wife’s passive-aggressive behavior. Nothing really important, Mr. No Time To Read.
Medical professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to categorize issues, including Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder. In 1994 the DSM-IV demoted it to the book’s appendix, but the phrase, “passive-aggressive behavior,” lingers in the common tongue.
The earlier edition, DSM-III, provided a list of criteria, says Psychology Today:
- Sulks, argues or is irritable when asked to do something
- Unjustifiably protests that others are making unreasonable demands
- Avoids obligations, using excuses such as “forgetting”
- Resents suggestions from others regarding work, productivity or punctuality
- Obstructs others by failing to complete tasks or do work
- Scorns people in positions of authority, such as law enforcement officers, attorneys, or judges
Why do we dwell on this behavior? Because some of the biggest post-divorce problems stem from not the issues themselves, but from how you each handle them. Coping with a passive-aggressive ex-wife can make every post-divorce conflict a nightmare.
Changes in Circumstance
The number and complexity of post-divorce problems can be formidable. Some of the contents of a Virginia divorce decree are unassailable. Others, though, can be modified by legal motions. For an ex-wife who feels simultaneously victimized and helpless after a Virginia divorce, these modifiable aspects can sow the seeds of a whole crop of troubles.
Modifications can arise due to a change in circumstances. Say you had a $100,000-a-year job before the divorce and that set both the spousal support and child support payments. Sadly, after the divorce (and through no action on your part), you lost that job; you now earn $50,000 a year.
You would need to go back to court for modifications to both dollar amounts. An irate ex-wife, though, instead of accepting reality and knowing your income has halved, could drag the process through the courts.
Modifications can arise, too, for items like educational expenses. Say your spousal support payments include money earmarked for tuition so your ex-wife can learn a marketable skill.
Suppose she fails out of those classes because she fails to attend or fails to study for assessments. You could ask the court to reduce or eliminate educational expenses, since she is not demonstrating a sincere effort.
Failure to Comply
Any portion of the property settlement agreement or divorce decree that your wife ignores is a minefield waiting for your next false step. Her failure to comply with the decree could express itself in a myriad of ways:
- Being late for visitation exchanges
- Refusal to cash your support checks in a timely manner
- Sudden alterations to an existing child visitation schedule
- Deliberate destruction or neglect of the house you left so that she and your children would have the family home
- Failure to pay real estate taxes
You and your attorney need to approach any of these issues in as business-like, dispassionate and neutral way as possible, so her emotional reaction is drained from the conflict. Your ex-wife could be looking for a fight, and by failing to comply with a court order, she invites it.
Children are Mixed Up in the Conflict
Any conflict you have with your ex-wife will be many times harder if it unfolds in front of your children. The Huffington Post outlines that and several other parenting issues, post-divorce, that tear at parents’ lives.
If your ex-wife is behaving inappropriately in front of your children, you need not climb onto that roller coaster with her. As smoothly as possible, withdraw yourself and your children from the unfolding drama and agree to meet her later to talk. If the behavior (arguing, baiting the kids, using them as messengers) continues, talk to your attorney.
A New Boyfriend Enters the Picture
A big red flag on the post-divorce landscape, for you and your children, is the moment your ex-wife chooses to introduce a new man to your kids. She has every right to have a love life; her method of rolling out the new Mr. Right, though, can leave your children with questions. Divorce Magazine recommends five ideas, which you may want to pass along to your ex on the understanding that you, too, will follow them:
- Time it well
- The Other is not a rival for your kids’ affection
- Self-check: are you being selfish?
- Ask your children for feedback
- Place your kids’ needs ahead of your own
Just a Simple Check-in, Okay?
Listen, you could call a person once in a while, at 757-383-9184, so you could actually talk to an attorney at The Firm For Men’s Virginia Beach or Newport News offices. It wouldn’t hurt you to call or even contact us online, and we might be able to put some distance between you and the mind games your ex-wife is playing. Or not. We’ll be fine. We’ll just be here. Alone. In the dark.