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Can I sue my sociopathic ex for the extreme emotional distress he has caused my family?

Phoenix, AZ |

I understand that I am entitled to file a lawsuit on anyone; however, I want to know if I have a valid case. My significant other is the classic definition of a sociopath. I ended the relationship a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, I am pregnant with his child. I do not have enough room for describing his outrageous behaviors, but his actions have absolutely had everlasting consequences in the lives of my six year old son and myself. I do not have a prior history of depression, but I have been depressed for over two years due to his intentional infliction of emotional distress. Both my son and I need psychological counseling. His behaviors include every single sociopathic characteristic. He is mentally abusive. What he does to me and others is not just. He destroys lives and enjoys it.

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Attorney answers 3


I cannot comment on the validity of your case from just a paragraph's worth of information. But consider that you will need concrete evidence that this man caused you emotional distress intentionally. Also, was his behavior so repugnant that everyone in society would consider it horrible? Do you have doctor's records showing that he caused your depression or worsened it? If you cannot answer these questions "yes" then you may not have a case.

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You may have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, but honestly it would take expensive litigation to get anywhere and you would have to show that the emotional distress was extreme (more than just temporary depression). If you're looking for a money judgment, you also have to consider the other party's resources and whether the legal fees are worth getting a judgment against someone who will never pay.

A better option may be to obtain an order of protection or injunction against harassment, which you can do without an attorney just by going to the courthouse. These are intended to prevent the offending person from contacting you. A judge can order that the offending person (defendant) not contact you in person, by phone, in writing or other means and can order the defendant from contacting you at specific locations such as your residence, work, school or other locations. A judge can also order that the defendant surrender and/or not purchase firearms and ammunition. If you're in immediate danger or feel unsafe, contact the police.

Taylor House of Biddle Law Firm, PLLC, can be reached during regular business hours at (480) 840-3138 or anytime by email at, for a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your case. This post is general information about divorce and family law in Arizona, and is not legal advice. Divorce is a complex process, and taking legal action without the one-on-one professional advice of a lawyer can produce unexpected results.


I agree with both of the answers. The law sets an extremely high burden of proving extreme emotional distress. Keeping this in mind, your burden of proof is even higher because this is a family situation and most all families have some degree of emotional discord. In other words, you are probably more upset over the situation because it involves a family member and not a stranger.
Another important consideration is the fact that you will be forced to relive this trauma and distress throughout the course of the lawsuit, which could take several years. So even if you can afford an attorney and have a legitimate claim, a lawsuit may still not be in your best interest, emotionally or mentally. These factors are often overlooked when emotions are involved. You might benefit from working with a counselor before deciding whether to pursue this lawsuit.

Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.