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My ex-husband is verbally abusive to my son. He calls him degrading names, my son is 12. Can I file abuse for this?

Secaucus, NJ |

Names such as pussy, little girl, stupid, whimp. My son no longer wants to spend any time with his father,

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Attorney answers 3


Emotional abuse does qualify as child abuse under the statute. There are two issues you may need to look at, modifying an existing child visitation order, especially if the boy does not wish to spend time with his father. You may also contact the child abuse hotline if you believe that the abuse is effecting your child's well-being. If there is a therapist, counselor or psychologist I would suggest having your son speak with a professional. It may be relevant if you file a motion to change parenting time.

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Thank you so much. I will file a motion to change parenting time.

Anthony J Van Zwaren

Anthony J Van Zwaren


You are welcome. I should have added that having your son see a professional would be wise whether or not you decided to file a motion, because he may need someone to talk to, even if it is a school counselor or therapist that he trusts.


While more information is needed to provide a reliable opinion, if you are the child's primary custodian you can file an application seeking to modify if not suspend the father's parenting time based on the allegations you have presented. You may also want to seek counseling for the child, if not for the child and father to participate in jointly.

The Answer provided was based on the limited information provided, and represents information based on the law in general, not a legal opinion that can be relied upon. Before a formal legal opinion can be offered I would need an opportunity to review all possible relevant facts and circumstances. You cannot rely on the advice of an attorney given over the internet. The exact facts of your sitaution, including facts which you have not mentioned in your question, may completely change the opinion that is being offered. Please be aware that the above comments are neither protected by attorney-client privilege, nor may the same be the basis for a malpractice lawsuit.


I agree with the previous answers, but there is more that you may be able to do. If your ex has also abused you in the past, you can ask for a court restraining order to protect both you and your son pursuant to NJSA 2C:25-17 et seq. Even if he has not abused you physically or emotionally directly, he is now doing so by using your son to accomplish it (at least, that is the argument I would make).

Another avenue you can pursue is to ask the prosecutor in Hudson County to charge your ex with harassment at least against your son, if not a more serious crime. If the prosecutor does so, s/he can seek to protect your victim son as part of the sentence upon conviction.

Please feel free to call me if you wish.

My responses to questions on Avvo are not intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and agreement for legal services. I am available to arrange for a free consultation at (973)455-1237 or (973)538-1758.