What are unacceptable behaviours from an ex-spouse after divorce?

There are many forms of behaviour your ex may use after you are divorced, whether that is as a form of control, revenge, or an inability to accept the relationship is over. We discuss what is considered to be unacceptable behaviour and look at the case of the Wrexham woman who received a 16-week suspended sentence for taking her behaviour too far.

Repeated attempts at contact, including phone calls, text messages, and emails, particularly if they are unwanted or aggressive in nature, and showing up unannounced at an ex’s home or place of work are all examples of unacceptable behaviour. As are spreading rumours or making negative comments about an ex-spouse to friends, family, or colleagues, engaging in physical or verbal abuse, and threats of violence. These acts are not only harmful but can also negatively impact any children.

Using the children to control you

Sometimes, an ex may use childcare arrangements to control you. Examples include:

  • Refusing contact or preventing contact unless you agree to do something
  • Failing to respect boundaries, such as continually texting or calling the child while they’re in your care
  • Failing to collect the child at the agreed time
  • Refusing to care for the children when the other parent knows you have important plans
  • Trying to persuade your child not to have contact with you. In extreme cases, this is referred to as parental alienation
  • Refusing to enforce rules such as bedtime or usual routines. This can make it difficult for you when the child returns to your care
  • Saying you are not allowed to leave the child in the care of anyone else, such as family or friends. This can make you more reliant upon the non-resident parent, meaning they have more control
  • Making threats to take you to court for custody

What is stalking and harassment?

Stalking is defined as a pattern of persistent and unwanted behaviour that is intended to harass, alarm, or distress another person. This can include unwanted contact, following or monitoring someone, and making threats or causing damage to property.

Harassment, on the other hand, is defined as behaviour that is intended to cause alarm or distress to another person. This can include unwanted contact, making threats or abusive comments, and spreading rumours or false information about someone.

Both stalking and harassment are criminal offences that can result in a prison sentence or a fine. Victims of stalking and harassment are encouraged to report the matter to police, who can investigate and take appropriate action. It is also possible to obtain a restraining order or injunction to prevent the perpetrator from contacting or approaching the victim.

Taking the behaviour too far: Wrexham woman receives suspended sentence

A Wrexham woman was sentenced to a 16-week suspended sentence for stalking her estranged husband, following a trial at North East Wales Magistrates’ Court. The court heard that the woman sent hundreds of unwanted text messages, phone calls, and emails to her husband, despite being warned by the police to stop.

The prosecution argued that the woman’s actions had caused significant distress to her husband, who had been forced to change his phone number and had been left feeling anxious and fearful for his safety. The defendant claimed her actions were motivated by a desire to reconcile with her husband and that she had not intended to cause him any harm.

In passing sentence, the magistrates noted the serious nature of the offence and the impact that the defendant’s actions had on her husband. However, they also took into account the defendant’s lack of previous convictions and the fact that she had shown remorse for her actions. The suspended sentence means the defendant will not go to prison, but will be required to abide by certain conditions, including not contacting her husband or going to his home or workplace.


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