• calendar26th Feb 23 10:00 pm
  • userJamie

Emotional Abuse During Divorce

Even in the best-case scenario, divorce tends to be one of the most stressful life events. No matter how much stress divorce brings, though, there is never an excuse for emotional abuse. If abuse is one of the reasons the marriage is ending, emotional abuse during divorce is even more likely. Receiving support from an experienced and committed family lawyer can help you cope with such difficult situations. Consider calling the Colorado Divorce Law Group at (720) 593-6442 to schedule a free confidential consultation.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence that an abuser uses to manipulate or feel power over a partner. If the couple has children, it is common for the emotional abuse to extend to them. The various types of emotional abuse include:

  • Gaslighting
  • Controlling aspects of the victim’s life, such as daily activities, relationships, and finances
  • Excessive jealousy
  • Keeping the victim isolated from family and friends
  • Threats that cause the victim to feel that he or she is in danger of physical violence or other undesired consequences, such as not receiving custody of the children
  • Sharing (or threatening to share) private information, such as conversations, photos, or videos for the purpose of shaming the victim or coercing the victim into accepting unfavorable terms in the divorce
  • Insults that hurt the victim’s self-esteem
  • Embarrassing the victim in the presence of others

Providing Evidence of Emotional Abuse

Victims often find it more difficult to prove that they are suffering from emotional abuse than from physical abuse, as there are no visible injuries or scars. However, there are still several ways for victims to gather evidence to use in court. Evidence of emotional abuse may include:

  • Records of communication with the spouse, including written messages—text messages, emails, or private messages—phone calls, and in-person conversations. According to the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, Colorado requires the consent of only one party to record a conversation, which means that recorded conversations may be admissible in court. Communications showing abuse can come from any time over the course of the marriage as well as from during the divorce proceedings
  • Witness testimony from family members, friends, and other witnesses to the emotional abuse who may be able to provide testimony in court
  • Psychological evaluations. In addition to an evaluation of the victim and of any children of the couple, the court may request an evaluation of the allegedly abusive partner

How Does Emotional Abuse Impact a Divorce Settlement?

Colorado is a no-fault state for divorce, which means that neither party can be considered more responsible for the divorce, regardless of the situation. Nonetheless, emotional abuse can still impact settlements. Therefore, it is particularly important for victims to submit evidence of emotional abuse if the couple has children, as demonstrating a history of emotional abuse in court may help to secure long-term custody arrangements, which can protect the children by limiting the abuser’s parenting time responsibilities or requiring supervised visitations. A documented history of emotional abuse can also impact the distribution of marital property and any amount awarded in spousal support, particularly if the behavior of the abusive partner can be shown to have negatively impacted the capability of the other partner to be self-supporting.

Documenting a history of emotional abuse can be a stressful undertaking, especially if the abuse is ongoing. If you are dealing with emotional abuse during divorce, you may find it helpful to speak with an experienced family law attorney from the Colorado Divorce Law Group who may be able to help evaluate your legal options for achieving a fair resolution.

Avoiding Emotional Abuse During Divorce

Recognizing that you are being emotionally abused is an important first step. Victims often find it beneficial to work with a therapist or another type of mental health professional. A therapist can help victims recognize and understand which of the spouse’s behaviors are abusive. Such recognition is important in part because it is common for victims to normalize their mistreatment. Once victims are able to recognize abusive behaviors, they can take action to distance themselves from the former spouse and take other steps to limit exposure to further abuse. If you need immediate support to cope with emotional abuse during divorce, you can chat with an advocate and find helpful resources at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. There are also a variety of strategies that you can employ to minimize your exposure to continued abuse during the divorce proceedings.

Reducing Communication

Victims of emotional abuse during divorce often benefit from limiting communication with their former partners to restrict opportunities for them to inflict further abuse. In many cases, it may be possible for an attorney to handle all communication related to the divorce on the victim’s behalf. Reducing communication can be more complicated when children are involved, however, particularly if the abusive partner has shared custody or visitation rights. In such instances, the victim may wish to ask a trusted family member or friend to act as an intermediary.

Victims who would prefer not to appear in court in order to avoid contact with their former spouse can request that the court issue a decree without the victim needing to appear. The Colorado Judicial Branch provides forms for submitting this kind of request both in a divorce and in the dissolution of a civil union.

Establishing Legal Boundaries

A judge has the power to prohibit some behaviors of a former partner during divorce proceedings as well as after the divorce. Regarding emotional abuse, these prohibitions can include harassment, stalking, threats, and even written or digital communication. Victims may ask the court to provide a temporary restraining order to prevent contact during the divorce proceedings. If the victim appears to be in danger, the order can be put into effect immediately. Violating a protection order is a criminal offense. If the alleged abuser disputes the need for a protection order, however, both parties will need to present their case to the judge.

In some cases, a victim may also accuse a former spouse of disturbing the peace. This encompasses any actions that destroy the victim’s mental or emotional calm. In extreme cases, the abuser could be found to be exhibiting outrageous behavior. Victims can file a lawsuit to prevent further extreme acts, which are legally defined as anything that a reasonable person would find intolerable.

Seek Legal Support in Addressing Emotional Abuse During Divorce

As you seek a fair settlement in a divorce, you may wish to consider working with an attorney experienced in family law. Legal representation may be especially useful for victims suffering from emotional abuse during divorce, particularly if there are concerns that the abusive former spouse may try to manipulate the victim into settling for less than what is fair. Furthermore, it is often best for victims to limit their contact with abusive partners as much as possible. An attorney can facilitate this lack of contact. If you have concerns about emotional abuse during divorce, consider contacting an experienced attorney at the Colorado Divorce Law Group by