Divorces in Illinois often bring out the worst in people, but in some cases an ex-spouse may cause more conflict, trauma and undue stress than is necessary. Since many divorced couples are not able to completely sever ties, due to shared child custody arrangements or other legal situations, it is important to learn how to handle a toxic spouse in the most positive ways possible.

1. Maintain thorough documentation

There are many things that a difficult ex can do to make life complicated, but one of the most damaging can be the fabrication of lies or half-truths. It is not easy to prove oneself without evidence, but creating a document trail along the way can help. During divorce proceedings, and even after finalization, it is important to document everything possible in writing, including any time spent with children, missing money from a joint bank account and communications with the troublesome spouse.

2. Seek legal assistance

A divorce is a good time to hire an attorney to help keep things as civil as possible, and to provide a neutralized situation. A lawyer can help with conflict resolution and can help facilitate better methods of communication to keep negotiations on track. Most divorce attorneys have experience working with clients whose exes are not easy to get along with, making them a good resource for more than just legal assistance.

3. Focus on the future

In the majority of divorce cases, the past behavior of one or both spouses has led to the break-up of the marriage. Some spouses become stuck in the past, bringing up negative situations at times that are not appropriate during divorce proceedings. In order to keep the process moving forward, it is important to change the focus to the future when possible. A difficult ex may make it hard to move on, but doing so is best for all involved.

4. Hire a therapist     

When dealing with a controlling or manipulative spouse, a third-party professional can offer great advice and tools. Speaking with a therapist can be very beneficial to divorcing spouses who need help figuring out how to best respond to a frustrating ex. When conflict is high, emotions often bubble up to the surface, but having a healthy outlet where one can vent his or her concerns is a better way to deal with a bad situation.

It is not possible to control the behavior of another person, but controlling one’s own behavior may be the best way to set up a peaceful future with an ex-spouse.