Passionate | Experienced | Strategic

Is your former spouse legally harassing you after the divorce?

On Behalf of | Mar 6, 2024 | Domestic Violence

Divorce often serves as a refuge for those entangled in an abusive relationship. However, the end of a marriage does not always break the cycle of abuse. Beyond physical or emotional abuse, there exists a subtler form of manipulation and torment that can continue even after the divorce: abusive litigation.

Abusive litigation occurs when one spouse repeatedly drags the other through unnecessary legal battles even though they have already finalized the divorce. These actions are not about securing a fair resolution but about continuing the cycle of abuse by using the court system as a weapon.

Signs of abusive litigation

Abusive litigation is a continuation of control by other means. The goal is to intimidate, exhaust resources and maintain a grip on the victim’s life. Recognizing the signs of abusive litigation is the first step toward ending it. Here are signs your former spouse is misusing the legal system to hurt you intentionally:

  • They repeatedly request postponements or extensions, dragging out the legal process unnecessarily.
  • They file an excessive number of documents or motions that require responses, overwhelming you and the legal system.
  • They use the threat of legal action to intimidate or coerce you into making concessions or giving up your rights.
  • They make false or exaggerated claims against you to damage your credibility or to manipulate the outcome of the case.
  • They might attempt to abuse the discovery process by demanding irrelevant or overly personal information to harass or embarrass you.
  • They unreasonably refuse to negotiate or settle disputes, even when it would be in both parties’ best interests.
  • They might even use child custody as a bargaining chip to exert control or to retaliate against you.
  • They force you to incur excessive legal fees by prolonging the litigation, knowing it puts financial pressure on you.

Legal harassment can lead to significant stress, financial burden and a sense of powerlessness. You may find yourself constantly defending against legal actions, which can prevent you from moving on from your divorce.

You have rights against abusive litigation

Washington State law provides mechanisms to combat abusive litigation. Protective orders and legal statutes are in place to prevent ex-spouses from misusing the legal system. If you find yourself a target of ongoing legal harassment, know that the law is designed to protect you from such tactics.