As a Rhode Island Divorce and Family Law Lawyer I've seen it before and I'm sure I'll see it again. What is it? Simply this.
A Rhode Island Divorce can turn your spouse into a monster.
Laugh if you like but it's true. Whether it's a man filing for divorce in Rhode Island as to his wife or a woman filing for divorce against her husband, it is usually the mental state of the partner who is the defendant in the case and is being served that incurs the change.
The tiniest thing can set off the spouse who is not the one filing the divorce. It can be a call from the other spouse's lawyer leaving a message on the home answering machine asking for a call back. It can be the unhappy spouse simply telling his or her husband or wife that enough is enough and that divorce is going to be filed. The spouse receiving service of divorce papers from the sheriff or constable can set in motion a rage, depression or desperation that causes the spouse to turn into someone you no longer recognize.
There's no rhyme or reason and no road map to tell whether your spouse is the one that will proverbially "lose it" when divorce is mentioned, contemplated or filed. The newspapers over the years have been saturated with the results of the more tragic events that have occurred.
Some spouses refuse to believe they can go on with their lives and rather than seeking counseling or realizing that they are in need of help they can and do (1) kill themselves, (2) kill, beat or stalk their spouses, (3) kill, beat or stalk their children, (4) kill, beat or stalk a person that they think has caused the breakdown of their marriage such as their spouse's presumed lover.
Stalking and terrorizing a spouse rather than coping with the situation rather than getting the help of a mental health professional is common. Many spouses are surprised when their spouse suddenly turns into someone they don't know... someone who they thought loved them but now only wishes to harm them because of the hurt or anger or loss of control that they feel inside.
Whatever the circumstances, the spouse who becomes the victim of this Mr. Hyde or Mrs. Hyde should remain calm. This does not mean that the spouse should not act. The spouse should certainly seek a protective order from the family court if appropriate and call law enforcement as necessary for their own protection.
No matter how adversarial the spouse that you no longer seem to know gets, you should remain as calm as you can, especially in front of the adversarial spouse. It is unwise, especially if you are alone with the spouse who has seemingly become another person to expect that he or she will act within reason. Never hurl verbal insults, mention past events that will cause arguments or allow your spouse to cause you to become angry or enraged such that you instinctively lash out or try to defend yourself.
The best thing you can do is remain calm no matter what your spouse does or says, avoid your instinct to defend yourself or continue into a confrontation. As quickly as you reasonably can, without making it appear too obvious, remove yourself from the situation calmly.
Remain calm in all circumstances no matter how insulting or adversarial. Think of it this way . . . the idea of divorce can turn your spouse into a monster and monsters are unpredictable.
Don't become a statistic of divorce violence. Remain calm.
Christopher A. Pearsall, Esquire
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West Warwick, RI 02893
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Copyright 2008. Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law
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