After losing a spouse or child, nothing is more stressful than getting a divorce. If your spouse thinks that you’re to blame, they may go out of their way to make your life as difficult as possible. Sometimes this will simply involve refusing to agree or compromise about the terms of your divorce. Other times, your spouse may resort to behaviors that cause you to suffer extraordinary emotional distress. Their goal is to make you pay for the failed marriage, by whatever means necessary.
Even though you’re going through a divorce, your spouse doesn’t have the right to be emotionally abusive. If this happens to you, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. Your spouse’s behavior could affect your divorce and even give you the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against them by hiring a personal injury lawyer.
What Does Emotional Abuse Look Like?
Emotional abuse can be just as devastating as physical abuse. This type of abuse can also manifest in several different ways. Examples of emotional abuse can include:
- Making threats
- Spreading lies on social media
- Sharing personal and private photographs
- Controlling financial decisions and accounts
- Criticizing appearance, weight, or clothing
- Shaming, and more.
Intentionally Causing a Spouse Pain and Suffering Can Affect Divorce Proceedings
When you get divorced, you’ll be expected to negotiate certain terms and conditions of the split. These typically involve things like property division, child custody, and spousal support arrangements. Negotiating terms that are mutually-agreeable can be difficult when bad feelings and resentment linger beneath the surface. It can be even more challenging when one spouse flat-out refuses to compromise, simply to punish their soon-to-be ex.
Courts will require spouses to seek outside assistance if private negotiations aren’t successful. In fact, you may even be ordered to attend mediation to resolve your issues.
When mediation doesn’t work, your divorce may go to trial. Here, a judge will consider arguments and evidence offered by both sides. If your spouse has engaged in unreasonable and hurtful behavior that’s caused you extreme emotional pain, you may be able to use this to your benefit at trial.
Judges have a lot of discretion. Evidence and allegations of abusive behavior – including emotional abuse – can be used to sway their decisions. For example, a judge may decide that it’s not safe to award custody of a child to that abusive spouse. Or, a judge may find that it’s necessary to award spousal support if abuse has harmed your ability to work and earn a living.
If your spouse has engaged in emotionally abusive behavior during your divorce, be sure to tell your attorney. This information can be used to leverage the results you want.
Emotional Abuse Can Give You the Right to Sue
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean that you have the right to intentionally harm or abuse your spouse. This includes behaviors that are emotionally harmful. If your spouse has intentionally caused you to suffer emotional distress, you may have the right to file a civil lawsuit for damages. Filing a lawsuit can hold your spouse accountable for their actions and allow you to recover comepnsation.
What is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress?
Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when:
- Your spouse engaged in outrageous behavior
- This behavior is a substantial factor in causing your severe emotional distress, and
- Your spouse intended to inflict emotional harm.
In other words, your spouse intended to and was successful in causing you to suffer severe emotional harm.
Severe emotional trauma involves much more than hurt feelings. You must be able to prove that the suffering you’ve experienced is so extreme that no reasonable person should be expected to be able to handle it.
Civil lawsuits and family law proceedings are distinct and separate. However, a successful outcome in your personal injury lawsuit could be useful as you negotiate the terms of your divorce.
If you’ve been the victim of intentional emotional abuse, do not hesitate to contact experienced attorneys for help. Your family law attorney can handle your divorce, while your personal injury lawyer will be able to fight for the compensation you deserve.