Divorce is never easy, but when there is abuse in a marriage, it can be especially complicated. Not only do you have to face the emotional and psychological ramifications of the situation, but there are also legal elements you must address.
Unfortunately, many abuse survivors stay silent. Perhaps they fear retaliation or generally don’t trust the system. However, revealing any evidence of abuse in your divorce could benefit your case.
Here is a broad overview of the process of addressing abuse in your divorce, including legal qualifications and ways to gather evidence.
Different Types of Abuse That Can Exist Within a Marriage
Physical abuse is often characterized by visible injuries or lasting trauma such as bruises and broken bones. Less noticeable forms of physical harm are also possible. Direct, violent abuse is a criminal act, labeled “domestic violence” in a criminal court. You can work with authorities to see your abuser convicted, and you can also include domestic violence claims in your divorce.
Emotional abuse can manifest in a multitude of ways, from undermining self-esteem to inflicting fear and terror.
Verbal abuse takes its toll largely through hurtful language. Demeaning words or constant criticism are forms of verbal abuse.
Financial abuse happens when one partner controls the other’s money.
Religious abuse occurs when a partner weaponizes religious ideas and uses them to control the other partner.
Many of these examples are not necessarily illegal. For instance, there are no laws against repeatedly belittling someone. To seek justice for such abuses, you should work with your attorney to bring these issues up in your divorce.
In your case, you should make sure to include all forms of abuse you endured, from the smallest to the biggest examples. Focusing solely on any one type can prevent a nuanced understanding of all the injustice you experienced.
Gathering Evidence of Abuse
Taking the time to properly prepare for any court hearing is the key to ensuring that abuse cases are handled fairly and justly.
This process begins by gathering any documents, witness testimony, and other evidence that demonstrates abuse.
Documents may include:
- Medical records
- Bank statements
- Social media posts
- Emails and text messages
Your attorney can help you prepare all of this information. They can also help you collect and present evidence that you may not have considered.
The “Burden of Proof” in An Abuse Allegation
The legal term “burden of proof” refers to who is responsible for proving something and what they need to prove it.
In divorce court, the burden of proof is on the accuser. They must prove that the other person behaved in a violent or abusive manner.
Family law judges make their decisions objectively and subjectively. Objectively, they consider the evidence presented in court. Subjectively, they look for signs of fear or danger between the two parties.
The Potential Risks of Making Abuse Allegations
Going through a divorce is already an emotionally challenging situation. When abuse is involved, the victim can be triggered, forced to relive painful memories. All court matters also become part of the public record. To make a true allegation, you may need to reveal embarrassing secrets.
We do not wish to discourage you from pursuing justice in your divorce. We simply want you to understand that it won’t be easy. However, if you have suffered abuse, making a formal accusation can have a positive, lasting effect after the divorce. Next month, we will discuss some of these benefits.
Our firm is here to help the victims of domestic abuse. If you are stuck in a toxic environment, call us right away at (516) 514-3868. You can also contact us online.