Massive victories in divorce cases are rare, and there's almost never a landslide victory by one party. So who wins? Nothing can repair the loss of a betrayal from your Soon To Be Ex (STBX), and sometimes we look to the court to fix the wounds. But it can't. So what do you do?
When there are real dangers and real emergencies, there are legal avenues, but most issues don't meet that level of the court's ability to solve your problem
Listen in as family Law Attorneys Billie Tarascio and Julie LaBenz reveal what they see from the inside, and how to stop being triggered by your ex in a way that gets you the best results. (Hint: don't let your STBX drag you into their world.)
Modern Law Podcast Getting Triggered By Your Soon To Be Ex
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So, so today's [00:01:00] topic is gonna be a really, really, really, really good one. We always talk a lot about both the law and, um, practically real life speaking,
[00:01:09] Julie LaBenz: real life,
[00:01:10] Billie Tarascio: not just the law, because the law's just one tool right in our toolbox to handle the transition. So I love that we do that.
[00:01:19] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, and I think that that's a really old school approach. Is just to go straight up litigation and that's it. And I've seen that with some of the lawyers nearing retirement, um, that that's kind of the, the way that they were taught and, and what they do. But really just going the straight up litigation route.
Can be, um, can be dangerous. I mean,
[00:01:44] Billie Tarascio: it's never the most efficient ever because some of the problems that you're gonna face in your Divorce are not really legal problems. They're practical problems. And then your legal problems could be solved sometimes practically. So I. You know, I, I think [00:02:00] hiring, if you're gonna work with a lawyer, working with somebody who's super creative and practical is, is 10 times outta 10 a better idea than somebody who's just like, I just wanna fight.
Unless you're one of those clients who just wants to fight and that's, I can just, what's your best advice for those clients who are just like, I want to fight?
[00:02:21] Julie LaBenz: You know, it's interesting. I was, I was talking to a client yesterday and. He's mad, he's really upset about how he's been treated. And yeah, he wants, he wants a moral victory.
He wants to feel justified. He wants to feel like, yeah, there's, there's right and wrong and, and right is going to prevail. And I had a really long conversation with him just about. What that looks like. If you're going to go down that path, um, you're gonna spend tens of thousands of dollars [00:03:00] in legal fees and costs the outcome's totally uncertain.
And let's really be honest with ourselves. Let's say you have the biggest victory and the court sanctions the other side, and, and, and you're proven right? And the principle of the matter is proven. Do you really think the other side's gonna suddenly see it your way? They're likely gonna be like, oh my gosh, the system wronged me.
He's, he or she's such a jerk. And, uh, like your point will not be taken the way you want it to be, most likely. So you're gonna need to decide what's more important for you staying enmeshed and engaged in this ongoing conflict or cutting your losses and moving on. Um, my mentor in the law, he used to always say, um, every lesson in life has its tuition.
Ooh. So if you're fighting to try to get, even monetarily, you're, you're likely just gonna keep throwing money at the [00:04:00] problem. And sometimes we just have to admit that we made a mistake, whether or not it was our fault, and learn from it and move on. And that might mean, you know, admitting that you know, you're not gonna recoup all the money you put into the relationship or something like that.
[00:04:16] Billie Tarascio: Right. I mean, if, if we can just ha if we could just start by saying, you're gonna come out at a loss. There is a price to get out of your marriage. Whether or not you lose lawyers, no matter what it's going, there's going to be costs. And so trying to figure out, you know, the, the fastest way out is usually the cheapest way out.
Not always, but um, Anybody who wants vindication and is looking for justice to be served will probably be
[00:04:58] Julie LaBenz: disappointed. [00:05:00] The judge isn't gonna see it the same way, most likely, you know, won't take it as seriously as you do. Um, and really what this is, is you're looking for some sort of external validation.
And instead, can you go inside and get, you know, learn your lessons and get your own validation instead of going on a six month to one year? Um, you know, really fishing expedition because proving your point is nebulous. Getting the court to vindicate you as nebulous. You know, we see on TV these amazing courtroom scenes where there's these massive victories and justices served and it's beautiful, but I've been a lawyer for almost 20 years, and those types of moments are extremely rare, especially in family court.
There's almost never a landslide victory. Almost
[00:05:54] Billie Tarascio: never. And, and I'm thinking of one particular case that we worked [00:06:00] on where, um, the, these parties were married for more than 40 years. Husband was a pilot. Turns out he'd been living a double life. Oh wow. Yeah. He had another woman he was married to in, in China.
I think it was a long, we had huge waste claims. He had spent. He had supported another family while he was married for 40 years. Okay? So those facts, like they don't get better than that in terms of waste, but he, they wouldn't settle. We had to go to court. We ended up proving waste. She won, but she didn't feel like she won, like no about, it didn't matter that she got what she was looking for from the courts.
The nothing could repair the loss of the betrayal. And sometimes we're looking for the court to, to do that, to help fix the wound that we've suffered from our marriage. And it can't.
[00:06:59] Julie LaBenz: [00:07:00] Yeah, it's really tough because you want that easy, you know, not even easy, but that solution. And like you, that example you just gave, you can even get to the end point and then realize, no, that didn't do it for me.
Didn't do it.
[00:07:15] Billie Tarascio: I won and I still feel exactly the same. Still, still heartbroken, still empty, still angry, you know, still with less money than I had before I was getting a Divorce, even though I'm getting this waste claim still. You know, it just, yeah. So what are some survival tactics?
[00:07:34] Julie LaBenz: Right. So, um, let's talk about that.
Let's talk about top survival tactics to stop getting triggered by your soon to be ex and reclaim your life. Why are we talking about this to begin with? You know, we're lawyers, family lawyers, we should be talking about, you know, how to file a petition or something like that. But what you'll find if you really get into the family courts is that.
You can't just run to court and get an [00:08:00] immediate solution. I mean, yes, there are avenues for emergency relief, but they're very strictly defined and you need to show irreparable harm, which is a really high standard. I mean, just imagine ir well. He may get hit or my son may suffer emotional. Like there's a lot of speculation about what may happen and that often doesn't qualify for emergency relief.
You need to have some really strong evidence of irreparable harm, so you're not gonna be able to just run to the court and get emergency relief in the majority of the city. Of the circumstances. Plus, even if you go to court on a non-emergency basis, it's gonna take months to get to a resolution. So the, the hot thing that you're really upset about now is gonna, you know, diminish over time.
And then you may be disappointed to find that the courts want you to work it out. Like the, the judge doesn't wanna figure out your parenting plan and the judge doesn't wanna be like, You know, [00:09:00] the person punishing which parents, the bad parent, like the, the judge really doesn't want to do that. The judge will in certain circumstances, but they really don't, so.
Mm-hmm. What do you do when you're having troubles, like real significant problems in your life, but the court is not gonna be your avenue of relief? That's what we're gonna talk about today. And what are your thoughts on that,
[00:09:21] Billie Tarascio: Billie? We really do need to talk about what the court cares about and what the court doesn't care about, because unfortunately, I've seen a lot of people not go to court when they should have, and a lot of people go to court when they shouldn't have.
Um, so, and most of the time, more often than not, people want to go to court for things that the court doesn't care about. It is rarer that somebody should have gone to court or should have fought something and they didn't. But those situations that I see most often, um, both in my practice and online when I'm watching people discuss, is like, if you [00:10:00] are a victim of domestic violence, this matters.
You should not think. The courts always offer, always go for 50 50. It doesn't matter that there's been domestic violence, I should agree to joint legal and 50 50. I disagree with that. That is not what the law says. That is not true. So I do not think that you should give up on that. Um, And if you believe your child is in danger, I don't believe, and you've got like real issues.
You've got an alcoholic parent, you've got a, a parent who's mentally ill, you've got real danger to your child. Not, you know, he goes to bed too late or he's feeding him. You know McDonald's too often, but he's not feeding my child or whatever. Like if it's really dangerous it, then you need to take it to court.
And if it's not really dangerous, then you don't take it to court.
[00:10:58] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, exactly. [00:11:00] The emergency relief is there if you qualify, but there's going to be so many situations that feel like an emergency, but don't actually qualify under the law. And so, yeah, definitely get legal advice along the way if you're facing what you believe to be an emergency situation.
Go ahead, Billie. Well, and even
[00:11:19] Billie Tarascio: if it's not an emergency, even if you, your child is in danger, but you're not gonna be able to prove irreparable harm, what I'm talking about is like, w there's this belief that in Arizona it's always 50 50 and it's always joint legal decision making. And that's not true.
That is not true. Is there a presumption for equal parenting time? Yeah, there kind of is, but it doesn't mean that it's always the case, and it doesn't mean if in your situation that that is going to be the case. So, um, e even if you don't qualify for an emergency, so what are some survival tactics? Let's say you're in that [00:12:00] situation where you do have.
A danger to your children. You do not believe that long-term equal parenting time is the way to go. You currently have equal parenting time. What should they do?
[00:12:13] Julie LaBenz: Well, obviously if there's been some incident that shows harm, um, then maybe you qualify to get emergency relief. So obviously explore that avenue if it's merited.
Um, but aside from that, um, you know, you really need to. Check in. Um, because especially if your kids are involved, the emotions will start running high and you may or may not show up the best way that you could. And so anytime something happens that's, you know, dramatic or upsetting involving your ex, um, I would encourage you to pause.
Um, nothing good really comes out of just reacting out of anger or fear. Any [00:13:00] initial thoughts on that point? Because it's so easy to respond to the trigger right away and just, you know, explode. Really.
[00:13:08] Billie Tarascio: Absolutely. Like, um, how, how long do you think people should wait between? Well, okay, so one thing is if you're, if you're pretty heightened, you and your ex are pretty heightened and, and you guys are, are fighting and, and the, the heat is on, I recommend stop texting, stop.
Any, um, immediate forms of communication slow down. If you, if you, if you get out of phone calls and you get out of texting and you just move over to email, you're immediately gonna slow down. You might even need to take that a step further and say, I'm not gonna respond to this email for 24 hours. And sometimes that will help you as well.
[00:13:50] Julie LaBenz: First of all, don't fall into this. Um, trap that you have to immediately respond to everything. There's a time and a place, you [00:14:00] know? Right. If, if, if you're getting a message, Hey, I'm taking our son to the hospital because he broke his leg at soccer. Yeah. You know, res, you know, respond. Sure. But if you're getting somebody who's like, Throwing lies at you like, oh, you didn't get our daughter to school on time and you didn't do her homework, and she had dirty clothes.
And it's just like all this stuff that's not true. And the first thing you wanna do is like fight back. That's where I would take a pause because that's when you're falling into their world. You're losing your power because now you're getting all upset and you're getting triggered and you're falling into it.
But really there's no emergency here. These are lies. This is stuff that could be addressed. And the other side also needs to learn to communicate with you differently. And if you're gonna just engage right away and, and, you know, throw back or, or get into this fight with them, [00:15:00] you're really not changing anything in, in your communication dynamics.
[00:15:05] Billie Tarascio: No. And you are giving them what they want if they're spewing venom at you. You know, you're a terrible mother. You, this shows how much you actually care for our child. If you blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, you always blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That is what they want. What they want is your anger and your hurt, and your energy and your emotions.
Like I. The best thing you can do is just refuse to engage. Give them nothing. It doesn't mean you're not gonna set the record straight because a lot of people worry, but don't I need to respond? If I don't respond, will they think that I've admitted it? You have all day and three weeks. You could. You could respond anytime you want in any way.
You could respond, you know, 48 hours later saying, none of this is true, period. Not justifying yourself, not proving them wrong.
[00:15:58] Julie LaBenz: Definitely. [00:16:00] Um, don't feel like you always have to prove yourself right. A denial can be enough. You just say, no, not true. You don't have to get into this long, protracted texting thing that's taking you away from valuable time with your kid, you know, and you're all angry and upset, which your kid knows.
Like, they feel it, they totally get it. Mm-hmm. You know? No, no. And this is,
[00:16:27] Billie Tarascio: yeah, go ahead. If you are gonna end up in court, if you know that you have a court date, you do need to be prepared. To offer evidence to the contrary of whatever's be you're being accused of. But it is not the time to tell the other party what your evidence is or what you plan to show or try to convince them that you're right.
You, you're, it's not gonna happen. So take this as intel. Call. Think about this as discovery. You've discovered what it is they're going [00:17:00] to say about you, and now you need to think about how you're gonna combat that, should you need to. But right now is not the time you need to.
[00:17:10] Julie LaBenz: So one technique to start, you know, releasing yourself from these triggers is when it comes up, pause and observe how you're feeling.
Check in with your body. Are you feeling it in your stomach? Is it in your chest? Is it in your neck and your shoulders? Is it your face? Like where are you feeling the upset? Mm-hmm. And that's gonna help you really just start to recognize how this person is really making you feel. I mean, obviously you know that they upset you.
But when you can check in with how it's manifesting in your body, sometimes that can be a really big wake up call. Like, wow, I need to stop feeling this way. I got, I'm getting divorced for a reason, or We broke up for a reason. Why am I still trapped in this [00:18:00] emotional bond with this person?
[00:18:01] Billie Tarascio: Totally agree.
Checking in with your body's great. Like I find that sometimes I'll carry to my jaw. My jaw will get really, really tight. Or here and, um, taking your, your two feet, planting them on the ground and doing anything bilateral, um, really, really, really, really helps ground the body. You know, really influences the nervous system, which allows our brain to be its best self.
Like this is not WOOWOO stuff. This is like, just literally like we're, we're whole human. We're not just our emotions and our brain, our body and our brain. It's all connected. And so we have the ability to go move. The other thing, um, I've got some people on TikTok. Who are, um, making some really great boundary statements and, uh, and if you are on TikTok, there's some people you can follow who are just great at [00:19:00] boundary statements and they, they have these like, you know, ten one liners and they're so brilliant things like, Did you mean to say that out loud or, um, or the one that was brought up here was that, I understand that's your perception, but that's just not my reality.
So just those boundary statements can really help you. If you feel like you need, you need to say something, you can't, you cannot walk away without seeing, saying something. Although no response is sometimes the most powerful response. The another alternative would be, Figuring out how to just walk away.
But the thing is, if you always feel like you have to have the last word, you're never gonna be able to, you know that that will never end. So you have to, I think, challenge yourself to be comfortable not having
[00:19:44] Julie LaBenz: the last word. And really what that comes to is you are going through what the other side's thinking or feeling like you have to win.
For the other side, it's all about the other side. So if you could just check in with yourself. And give [00:20:00] yourself the last word, and it doesn't really matter about the other person, that's a huge shift that's gonna start you. It's gonna help you start detaching. And you know this, this body scan is really helpful because it breaks the pattern.
Like, instead of just going to the response text or getting mad or wanting to have a drink or, you know, whatever it is that you wanna do, when your ex is upsetting you, this check-in really helps for you to stop that pattern mm-hmm. And slow things down. Mm-hmm. And then, you know, once you've started to recognize how this is impacting you, you can start analyzing like, how long do I wanna stay here?
You know, you can't change. Like you are not necessarily gonna be able to get the other side to stop being mean. But do you have to get upset every time? They're mean? Do you have to care what they think or say? And that's really about cutting these ties because whatever [00:21:00] relationship you were in and for however long, you likely built this dynamic between you and now you've gotta shift out of it.
And so even though it's easiest to say, oh, they need a change and they need to do this or that. That's really just putting yourself in a tough cycle where you're gonna get stuck, but how about you change how you show up in the dynamic? Um, Billie, can you talk to that, a li about that a little bit? You know, post Divorce, you're not in the same relationship with your ex, so how are you communicating differently?
[00:21:32] Billie Tarascio: Yeah, I do wanna talk about that, but one other thing I wanna say about what you said. Not only will this, this changing the dynamic and not, you know, re removing your role in the dynamic. Not only will it make you healthier and happier in that moment and long term, it will also help you show up in front of the judge better.
It will also help you make your legal case. Nope, people are [00:22:00] calling. No, thank you. So you asked, um, how is the relationship dynamic different post Divorce than it was, you know, during the marriage and then in that, um, in that time period when you're going through Divorce. I'll tell you what, so. You know, your marriage usually starts off pretty good.
Things are fairly functional for a certain period of time, and then they begin to get more and more dysfunctional leading up to your Divorce. When you go through your Divorce, it is not like a one day thing. You've got like a period, a breakup period that I think is probably for most people a period of years.
Mm-hmm. And during that period of years is when the most you're, you're gonna be at your most toxic, the two of you. It's gonna be the most dysfunctional, leading up to the Divorce, and then going through that Divorce period, and then maybe even a little ways out of it. But I think it's kind of like a curve, right?
So if you start off and things are pretty good between the two of you, [00:23:00] and then they decline. They decline, they decline, and then they get really, really bad and they stay bad, they're gonna start getting better as the two of you start rebuilding your own lives. Depending the, the less contact that you have, the less, the more you can break your dynamic and your routine of fighting and inputs to each other, the better the relationship gets.
And I sort of think about my ex now, like an extended family member that I don't particularly like love to spend time with. Like, we're not, I would not call us like friends, but um, He's around and he is not going anywhere. And, uh, you know, you better, you need to want the absolute best for them. Like, I, I want him to be happy and healthy and successful.
Um, and, and I have to be polite and, and, uh, you know, properly attentive [00:24:00] like you would an extended family member. Because you, you ki I don't know, I just kind of feel like you owe that to this person. This is the, the parent of your children. Your children are half of this human. Like, I think we owe a certain amount of respect and politeness to this person.
Did. I don't know if that answered the
[00:24:20] Julie LaBenz: question. Yeah, definitely it did. It's, it's a major shift in how you relate to each other. And it's, it's really releasing a lot of those emotional attachments. And, you know, something that can come up is, you know, maybe your, you've moved on but the other side hasn't, and you're getting like a lot of jealousy and, you know, cleanings and things like that.
What are your thoughts on dealing with that situation?
[00:24:52] Billie Tarascio: I mean, yeah, I think that that can be really hard. You know, if [00:25:00] one person feels possessive, and then I think it can be really hard if there's a religious component, you know, to your marriage, because if there's a religious component, it just makes things more complicated.
I was meeting with a client yesterday who, they've been separated a year. He really wants a peaceful Divorce. She will not. You know, move, and her position is, you know, Divorce is wrong. You are my husband. You owe me, you have left and you've done wrong by even leaving and trying to separate and you better come back begging.
And I, and this person feels like they will never submit to a Divorce because they're married and they're married for life. So if you believe, if you come from a household where there's a religious component and you believe that you've entered into a covenant and you're married for life, and that's what God thinks.
There's a possessiveness that, that the religious thoughts can kind of encourage and it's not healthy. Cause I mean, regardless of [00:26:00] your beliefs, that's just not how it works on earth. You, this person does not belong to you. You have no right to be possessive over them. Um, and so if somebody is feeling possessive towards you, How, how do you set the appropriate boundaries?
You know, I've heard of women who've, you know, been separated and their ex-husbands or ex-boyfriends will, will come up to them and like open up their shirts and look at them naked, and they feel like they, they're entitled to do that. And so I think if that is where you're at, right? If there is that level of jealousy and being with this person or near this person makes you incredibly uncomfortable because they're, they're objectifying you or they're treating you as if you belong to them and you're their possession, I would probably try to just limit all contact.
[00:26:54] Julie LaBenz: Yeah, you wanna have very clear messaging. [00:27:00] Don't be, oh, well, I'm sorry. And maybe we can get coffee and like, no, you're gonna have to really set some really clear boundaries and minimize communication. And then if there are, you know, communications, I would be, you know, very clear. You know, you need to let me go.
True love is actually letting the other people go. It's not hanging on for dear life. Um, and just keep hitting them with reality.
[00:27:27] Billie Tarascio: Um, and it does not, a good co-parenting relationship does not require you to be friends, does not require you to hang out with one another. Does not require you to be in the same, to celebrate holidays or birthdays together.
And I really do not advocate for putting that in orders at all because there might be times when you can celebrate together and then there will be other times where the relationship is not in a place where. It benefits your children or anyone for you all to be together. So I think if we're [00:28:00] still in a possessive phase, like that relationship needs to be like, Real, real broken.
Like you need almost physical boundaries like space boundaries away from somebody who is possessive and jealous over you.
[00:28:16] Julie LaBenz: Um, you know, as you're going through this, another tip is, you know, don't go through it alone. Um, connect with a lawyer that can walk you through strategies to implement or, you know, file court papers for you if needed.
Um, consider therapy for you and your kids. Even family therapy, depending on the dynamic. Find a trusted friend, a sibling, a parent, somebody who you can just totally vent to, like when you have all of this anger and stuff, it's nice to
[00:28:50] Billie Tarascio: be able to go for listening to the Modern Divorce podcast. You're like, man, remember anything you feel, be really
[00:28:56] Julie LaBenz: mad today.
This is what happened.
[00:28:59] Billie Tarascio: You know, they [00:29:00] could be there for you. And does not create an attorney client and I like to find the spoke to you that just listen and we
[00:29:07] Julie LaBenz: don't have, you know, sometimes I don't want the solution
[00:29:11] Billie Tarascio: would to speak with you then do this, do that. Can I just, can I,
[00:29:16] Julie LaBenz: can you just hear me with me and attorney and sometimes those are the best people other than the people who are always looking to like make you
[00:29:25] Billie Tarascio: better.
Modern Law dot com. Yeah. Especially when you're in the thick of it, like you just n you know it. It is really good if you're going through a Divorce to find some new friends because most likely if when you're married for a long time, your friends are couples and they don't get it, and they want you to get back together.
Because their friendship is with both of you. So they have some sort of like allegiance to the marriage, you [00:30:00] know? And that's, that's understandable. It's human nature. It's okay, but it's gonna be really good for you to get around some friends who understand what you're going through. So find some friends who are going through a Divorce who have been divorced and they will support you.
But I agree with you, you know, you don't need the fixer friend all the time at that point. Mm-hmm. Time and space and, and, and you know, the ability to vent, like, almost like the friend is the journal. You know, you pour into your journal, your journal doesn't tell you what to do back. So,
[00:30:34] Julie LaBenz: yeah. And Billie, if you are getting comments from, um, the audience, I was wondering if people mm-hmm.
Could tell us, like, how do they feel when they get triggered? You know, where does it show up in their body? Like what are their thoughts about. These, you know, these situations and how you deal with it. Um, you know, are, are they just getting caught up in the trigger or [00:31:00] are they starting to implement some new tactics?
[00:31:03] Billie Tarascio: We have lots of comments, lots of questions. One of my favorites here is from, uh, mommy is Not Silent on, um, TikTok, and she said, we both know that is not true. That's her favorite line when she's skipping garbage. I like that a lot. Um, And then this person said, in the time that we do fall into the tit for tat, does that look bad on us in court?
I mean, it probably depends on the degree. Um, and most of the time not, this is not gonna get in front of a court. Most exactly. One person said they just let their ex blow up. Just do it. Another liner is that may be your possession perception. It doesn't make it reality. Yeah, just good stuff. We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Modern Divorce Podcast, brought to you by Modern Law.
Now a word from our sponsor. One consistent theme you'll hear from me, Billie Tarascio, is that we do not believe in [00:32:00] a one size fits all solution. That's why at Modern Law you can find anything you need for your family law case for the highest stakes litigation cases. We've got experienced family law attorneys who can offer you representation.
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