Anytime there is abuse in a marriage, the process of divorce is increasingly complex in a legal sense, as law enforcement is sometimes involved. In most cases, abuse is a direct cause of the divorce.
Although many people equate abuse with physical violence, emotional abuse is just as damaging. If you have suffered emotional abuse during your marriage, you should understand how the abuse will affect your divorce and what you need to do.
What Constitutes Emotional Abuse?
While emotional abuse does not leave visible scars like physical abuse, this form of abuse will still have just as damaging an impact. One who emotionally abuses another person will work to belittle and tear down his or her spouse, often with the desire to feel more in control.
Emotional abusers are verbally abusive, isolate their victims, manipulate their victims, or could even use their own children as pawns to get their way. Emotional abuse can eventually lead to other forms of abuse, such as financial infidelity and sexual abuse.
One issue with emotional abusers is how they can mask their true personalities. For instance, when an emotional abuser is in a good mood, he or she may seem like there are no issues within the marriage, which misleads the partner. The good days may make the abused spouse feel as though he or she perhaps is overreacting to the perception of the abuse.
This behavior is exactly part of an emotional abuser's method of manipulation. An emotional abuser tries to make his or her spouse feel comfortable within the relationship as a means of control. At the flip of a switch, however, the demeaning and accusatory behavior starts again, restarting a vicious cycle of abuse.
How Can You Prove Emotional Abuse in Your Divorce?
The best way to prove you have suffered emotional abuse in your marriage is to keep stellar records. Records are a way for you to gain some control back in your current situation and can help strengthen your case against your spouse.
Keep a private journal documenting the details of any instances of abuse. Write down the dates of the abuse, what the abuse consisted of, how it made you feel, and what, if anything, came of the abuse. If you are currently separated, be sure to continue your documentation.
For instance, if you have a restraining order against your spouse and he or she violates the order or is on the cusp of doing so, write down each instance and what happened to violate the order.
If your spouse continues to contact you or harass you in any way, take photos or screenshots of any evidence to prove your case. This includes texts, emails, social media posts, letters, voicemails, and the like. This information can benefit you once you go to court.
How Do You Deal With Your Assets in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship?
Another concern you may have is how you divide assets and deal with alimony with an emotional abuser. Texas is a community property state, so no matter what your spouse wants, your assets acquired during your marriage is subject to equal division. Your spouse cannot bully you into acquiescing on certain assets. Let your attorney know if your spouse is trying to do so.
How Do You Deal With Child Custody?
Child custody is a touchy situation in an emotionally abusive relationship. As the abused spouse, your natural instinct is to protect your children from what you deem a dangerous and damaging individual. If there are serious cases of abuse on record with law enforcement against your spouse, you stand a good chance of obtaining sole custody.
However, the judge will evaluate what is best for the children. Each parent's behavior comes into play when the judge determines child custody. If your recordkeeping indicates your spouse was abusive to your children, be sure to show the evidence to your attorney. The evidence you provide could impact custody.
If you have any questions or concerns about your divorce, please contact Paula D Perez, Attorney at Law.