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Harassment by psycho ex-wife

Tacoma, WA |

I have been divorced for 2 years now and my ex-wife has been harassing me non-stop for every reason under the sun, often calling and leaving messages up to 20 times a day (usually at home and cell phone). Luckily she doesn't drive and lives too far away to walk to my home.

I have to admit that I did feel sorry for her and at times over these past couple years and have given her money or paid an odd bill here and there just to get her off my back (I know, first mistake). Note: we have one grown child.

Over the past 6 months I have been involved in a new relationship (the first since we've been divorced) and via the child, the ex-wife knows about it, and her negative behavior is escalating greatly to the extent that she is calling me at work and now (latest development this week) is contacting my employer, managers, and related business partners, etc. claiming to be with a state agency saying I am a sex offender and need to get registered.

Is this somehow breaking a law by slandering me like this to my employers, and/or can I get a restraining order that might help put a damper on her harassment? (She is not all in her right mind and has prescription drug problems which is a big part of why we got divorced.)

Many thanks.

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Attorney answers 1


Your question raises several issues. The first is what you call harassment. There are two types, civil and criminal. As a criminal matter, the ex can be charged with a misdemeanor but whether the prosecutor will charge her is up to them. Your best and quickest way to get relief is probably under a civil action.

Under civil law, “Unlawful harassment” means a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. The course of conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner, or, when the course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the well-being of their child.

Note that it is a "course of conduct". That means that it is more than one time and by your facts, she has demonstrated a course of conduct with the numerous phone calls. Another thing to note is that "it would cause a reasonable person to suffer emotional distress. and shall ACTUALLY cause substantial emotional distress" to you. If you have not suffered substantial emotional distress, then the court will not find harassment. The third point is that the conduct must "serve no legitimate or lawful purpose." Thus, if the ex claims that you owe her money, or failed to pay bills you were required to pay, etc., then she may be able to convince the court that it is a legitimate purpose.

As to calling your employer, this may give rise to a separate lawsuit against her for slander and defamation. You would have to prove that you have been damaged. If she has no assets, then the lawsuit would only get you a piece of paper saying that she owes you money if you are successful. A defense to a claim of defamation and slander is truth. However, this conduct of calling your employer would also be part of your antiharassment petition. You can go to the Pierce County Superior Court and file a petition and ask the court that she be restricted from calling. Both you and your employer may be able to block her number.

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