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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I provide family and divorce law advice to my clients in my firm.
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Hello. My ex-husband is blackmailing me. He wants me to amend

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Hello. My ex-husband is blackmailing me. He wants me to amend our divorce decree and if I don't he says he is going to send some very private information to my family and the family of my boyfriend. I am in the process of letting all of my family know they may receive such letters. If he does this, can I sue him?
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns. I am a Pennsylvania licensed professional.

If I may ask, is the information he is seeking to send out true in nature? Has he ever threatened criminal charges as a means of amending this decree?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The information is true in nature but relates to nothing illegal.

Thank you for your follow-up, M.

Under PA law what you are describing is called "Theft by Extortion". It requires a person to acquire or withhold personal property or benefit of another based on exposures that could open the person to contempt, ridicule, or hatred. Technically this may open you to ridicule, so there is a potential criminal component. In addition you could file suit civilly for invasion of privacy, specifically for 'public disclosure of private facts'. So yes, you could potentially file suit against him as well. To best assist you, here is a copy of the criminal statute for you to review as well:

§ 3923. Theft by extortion. (a) Offense defined.--A person is guilty of theft if he intentionally obtains or withholds property of another by threatening to: (1) commit another criminal offense; (2) accuse anyone of a criminal offense; (3) expose any secret tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule; (4) take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action; (5) bring about or continue a strike, boycott or other collective unofficial action, if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act; (6) testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to the legal claim or defense of another; or (7) inflict any other harm which would not benefit the actor. (b) Defenses.--It is a defense to prosecution based on paragraphs (a)(2), (a)(3) or (a)(4) of this section that the property obtained by threat of accusation, exposure, lawsuit or other invocation of official action was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstances to which such accusation, exposure, lawsuit or other official action relates, or as compensation for property or lawful services. (June 24, 1976, P.L.425, No.102, eff. imd.) Cross References. Section 3923 is referred to in sections 5708, 6105 of this title; section 3304 of Title 5 (Athletics and Sports); sections 5552, 9802 of Title 42 (Judiciary and Judicial Procedure).

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Would this apply to Washington state as well? My ex-husband still lives there and I live here.


Also, is there anything I could do prior, such as a restraining order or a letter from an attorney, to keep him from sending on such correspondence? Or a report to police about him blackmailing me?


In the end, it will cause some problems for me but nothing I can't survive. But if I can keep him from it first, that would be preferable.



Thank you for your follow-up, M.

If you remain in PA, then arguably the offense happened in PA because that is where you reside. Washington state has their own laws, but here what governs is where the victim is located. You cannot do anything in advance, such as a restraining order, because as yet he did not violate anything. All you can do is tell him to cease contacting you via a cease and desist letter, and if he refuses to do so, then pursue a restraining order. You can essentially pursue him for unathroized contact to you, but you cannot take actions to block his release of that information before the fact.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

This is what I sent via email this morning. Does it qualify as "Cease and Desist", or should I do that as well.


And is email acceptable or should I also send a letter via FedEx? I know he would not accept a certified mail letter.


I would like to make a few things clear about our conversation yesterday. You told me that if I do not amend our divorce decree and allow you to maintain all of the money in your 401K, you will send defaming letters to my family and to Jeff's family. By definition, you are blackmailing me. This harassing and aggressive behavior must stop. The 401k funds transfer, as outlined in our divorce decree, must happen immediately.

Jeff and I informed both of our families last evening that you may be sending them correspondence.

As I made clear with the recent issue of breaking and entering of my family's Newman Lake property and theft of items, continued harassment and aggressive behavior, and any attempt to harm my personal relationships and/or professional reputation, will result in me pursuing all appropriate legal measures, both criminal and civil.


Those are not 'defaming' letters. If the information is true, the information is not defamatory. It may not be welcoming or positive, but the information is still true. The letter you sent does not make it clear that you are no longer welcoming any contact, so arguably it is not enough to claim that this is a 'cease and desist' letter. It may be wiser to amend it. Email is also not sufficient unless he replies back to it (as that then can be shown that he received notice. Certified letter is better, but all you need to show as that he received notice of your request.

Hope that helps.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. One last question. Will I receive an email with your responses? I can't seem to figure out how to print this or save it so I can return to it later.


You are most welcome. Once you positively rate my answers to you, the ability to print out and email the correspondence to yourself should become available. Good luck!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Sorry to keep having one more question...can I/should I have a lawyer send a cease and desist letter? Or if I do it myself, am I saying to cease and desist all actions he's threatened to take, the harassment, communication altogether, or all of the above?


You can write the cease and desist yourself, but a letter on attorney letterhead simply appears to be more professional and more formal. Either is permitted, however.

Please be well. I am logging off for a court appearance so if you have other questions I will have to respond to them sometime this evening. Take care.

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