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I am involved in an emotionally abusive marriage and am divorcing my husband. How do courts view emotional abuse?

Detroit, MI |

I have been emotionally abused by my passive aggressive husband for 3 years. He is extremely cruel. He has been passive aggressive (silent treatment, withholding love, dismissive, etc.) and has also been verbally abusive (name calling, bullying, telling me how I should kill myself). He is in the law enforcement field and carries a gun. I am very fearful of him, but do not want him to lose his job. I have finally built my self-worth enough to divorce him, but I am concerned about our 1 year old son. I know my husband will try to get as much custody as possible in an effort to hurt me, but he makes little effort to see his son right now. I am the primary care taker and have given up my career so my husband could pursue his. I am concerned about the influence my husband will have on our son.

I do not want my son to grow up to be a bully and treat others this way. I have a document anxiety disorder that I have developed in response to the emotional and verbal abuse. I want my son to have contact with his father, but I do not believe joint custody is in my son's best interest due to his father being an abuser who only uses his son as a pawn against me. My son and I have been living away from the family home for a little over a week due to the emotional abuse. I have contacted a lawyer, but am interested in getting some opinions about how best to use the emotional abuse in our divorce case and how the courts view it.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. I am sorry that you are going through this, most courts look to the totality of the marital, the contributions the parties made during the marriage and yes the conduct of the parties during the marriage, so it is important, please work with a good local attny and he or she will protect your rights, take care.

    Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Massachusetts. Responses are based solely on Massachusetts law unless stated otherwise.


  2. Well, there are some things that will most likely occur under this scenario. Family court professionals obviously do not champion abusive parents; whether that abuse is directed toward the other parent or the children. In your case, the child is so young, the therapy will not include him at first.

    Under the scenario you depict, your lawyer could most likely secure court-mandated therapy to address the custody and parenting issues that will be part of your divorce. Parenting classes could also be ordered if some of your husband's abusive conduct directly impacts your son. All of this bodes ill; this will be a tough situation.

    One reality that you need to embrace, however, is that no matter how bad a Husband, and now father, the man is, he is still going to get sufficient court-ordered contact with your son to influence his life. You can let this drive you nuts, or you can attempt to deal with it.

    I recommend that you immediately hire two professionals: a good divorce lawyer [find one in your area on Avvo]; and a psychologist or therapist, for you, not for your case. As the primary care provider, you need to preserve your sanity.

    Good luck with all of this...

    The response to this post is not intended to provide specific legal advice or to create an attorney client relationship. Nor does our response to your post constitute solicitation for legal fees.


  3. How you use the emotional issue is something that you discuss with your attorney.

    The above is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.

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