Skip to main content

What type of 'proof' do I need for a "cruel and abusive treatment" fault divorce?

Medford, MA |

I will file for Massachusetts fault divorce; namely "cruel and abusive treatment".

I have read that I must prove this abuse in court. I feel it is technically impossible to prove, though possible to explain through documents. In my case it is physical and mental abuse over the length of the marriage.

What specific articles, photos, police reports, jail records etc. is the court expecting? How many items/instances would be needed for this type of divorce to likely be granted?

Thank you

My spouse has been arrested twice within the past year on domestic violence, intimidation of a witness and assault & battery charges. Currently there are criminal cases pending for these charges. I do have a permanent restraining/protection order in effect.

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Before spending money on trying to prove cruel and abusive, sit down with a lawyer to determine if it is necessary. You might find that your divorce would be cheaper filing a no-fault divorce and that your child support, alimony, property distribution would be essentially the same.


  2. I am sorry that you are going through such a horrendous experience in your marriage. You certainly do not deserve it. To answer your question, if you choose to file a fault divorce, you need all of the evidence that you listed, plus affidavits from witnesses of the abuse, medical and/or psychological documentation of injuries, specific incidents of cruelty and abuse, along with dates, and more. You will benefit by retaining a divorce attorney to help you through the process.

    Having said that, I agree with Attorney Doherty that you would do well to reconsider filing for a fault divorce for the reasons he stated. Some people want to file a fault divorce as a way of punishing his or her spouse. After all, the spouse did all of those horrible things, why shouldn't he answer for them in court? The fact is that court is not an effective place to gain revenge, as the outcome of your case will be essentially the same regardless of the type of divorce you seek. It is probably better to just get the divorce process over with in the fastest, least expensive manner available, which is usually a no-fault divorce. The best way to deal with a husband like yours may be to move on, get your life together, and find happiness rather than slug it out in court. Good luck!

    Gary S. Sinclair is an attorney licensed to practice in Massachusetts. All answers are based on Massachusetts law or a simple reading of the law in your jurisdiction. All answers are for educational purposes and no attorney-client relationship is formed by providing an answer to your question. The information provided should NOT be relied upon for making legal decisions. You will be best served by hiring an attorney in your area who specializes in the field of law pertinent to your question.


  3. I am so sorry that you are going through this difficult time. You will need any police reports, medical reports or witness statements/ affidavits and your own testimony. Filing this way will get you a faster court date and you need to balance filing it this way against the standard way becuase either way you are going to get divorced. No one should disuade you from wanting to tell your story and have the cathartic experience of letting others and the court know how he treated you, just be sure you want to go through that experience in public as opposed to healing privately in therapy. both of my collegues gave you outstanding advice which I agree with. Take care and hope that things work out.

    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.


  4. A pattern of conduct over time reflecting such incidents.



    henry lebensbaum esq 300 Brickstone Sq Ste 201 andover, ma -- attorneylebensbaum@verizon.net (978) 749-3606.
    Criminal Law (all courts), Drunk Driving, Drugs, Violence, Sex Offenses, theft, SORB, Divorce Child Custody Alimony Child Support & Modification, Contempts & Paternity Juveniles Domestic Violence & Restraining Orders, Business Law, Personal Injury, Guardianship, Conservatorship & Estate Administration & Legal Malpractice. For these & other areas, contact me. Email sent may be copied intercepted or held by computers.

    Criminal Law (all misdemeanor & felonies in District and Superior Courts), Drunk Driving and Drug arrests, Sex Offenses, SORB, Crimes involving Violence or Theft, Domestic (Divorce, Child Custody, Alimony and Child Support) and Family Law (Modification, Contempts & Paternity), Juvenile Law, Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders, Business Law, Personal Injury claims, Probate Law (Guardianships, Conservatorships & Estate Administration) and Legal Malpractice. For these and other areas, contact me. NOTE: This preceding message DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship. It is not a protected or confidential communication. The statements made herein are not to be interpreted as representations or warranties of any kind. No reliance should be placed on the statements made herein. It is recommended that the recipient(s) should undertake their own research to reach their own opinion. The writer does not accept professional responsibility on this matter. TO CREATE an attorney-client relationship REQUIRES a signed retainer/fee agreement along with a retainer fee that must be received by my office.


  5. I agree with several of the previous responses that you should seek legal advice on how to best think through whether filing a grounds-based divorce would be advantageous for you. I, also, would suggest you consider contacting a program that helps victims of domestic violence. These programs can help you think through safety planning at many stages of the process from preparing to leave to after-divorce matters. While you have to be careful to protect your legal rights, you must do so in a safe manner.

    Disclaimer: This response is to provide general information only, and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. The content in this response should not be relied upon or used as a substitute for consultation with an attorney, a tax specialist or any other professional advisor. The information contained herein is provided for information purposes only.

Personal injury topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics