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Navigating Emotional Abuse During A Contested Divorce

There is no such thing as an “ideal” divorce in Texas, but there are cases in which the parties resolve their differences by agreement and have a relatively amicable path toward finalizing the process. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the contested divorce, which may require a series of hearings to have the court decide property division, spousal support, child custody, visitation, and  child support.

If you are involved in the latter type of case, you are probably experiencing stress, frustration, and anger about the proceedings. These emotions are common in a contested divorce, but they can be intensified if one spouse is being vengeful, manipulative, or abusive. Unfortunately, verbal and psychological abuse can be much harder to prove and receive protection from a court. There are no visible injuries, although you are suffering the devastating impacts of insults, threats, demeaning comments, and other mistreatment.

However, there are some things you can do to support your case and gain control over your situation. Your first priority is to consult with a Texas contested divorce attorney who will tackle the challenges and protect your interests. Plus, you might benefit from some tips on navigating emotional abuse during a contested divorce.

  1. Recognize the Signs of Emotional Abuse:

This point may seem obvious, but it is possible that the misconduct is so inextricably woven into your relationship that you do not even realize that you are the subject of abuse. While physical and sexual violence are horrific, they are easier to describe and take legal action against through an order of protection.

 Emotional abuse often does not rise to the level necessary for a court to issue such an order. The mistreatment may be subtle, but the assault on your emotions can break you down, destroy your self-esteem, and shatter your self-confidence – all while you are dealing with contested divorce issues at the same time. Examples of emotional abuse may include: 

  • Manipulating your family, friends, and other loved ones into distrusting or disrespecting you;
  • Making inappropriate statements to turn your children against you;
  • Verbal assaults, threats, and insults;
  • Controlling your finances and decisions regarding children, employment, and other aspects of your life;
  • Public embarrassment, shaming, and criticizing your weight, clothing, and appearance; and,
  • Many other types of misconduct. 
  1. Document Everything:

Because the signs are not visible as with physical violence, make sure to record all instances of emotional abuse. No matter how minimal they may seem, you want to create a paper trail of how often your spouse engages in mistreatment and what types. Your documentation can serve as important evidence during the various hearings involved with a contested divorce. This can include recorded conversations (check with a local attorney to make sure you are not violating any laws), copies of emails or text messages, or a written timeline of instances of abuse. 

  1. Seek Professional Help for Emotional Issues:

Above all, do not disregard your mental and emotional health needs during this difficult time. Consider meeting with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other medical professional to talk through your concerns. Alternatively, vent your emotions with a trusted friend or family member.

  1. Address the Needs of Children:

Your kids are also a priority during a contested divorce, since the process will cover such areas as custody, visitation, and support. Resist the temptation to disparage or bad-mouth your children’s other parent, and avoid manipulating them – even if your soon-to-be-ex is not affording you the same courtesy.

 In addition, you might also consider seeking professional help for your children. Depending on their age, they could be grappling with some intense emotions that they may not want to discuss with either parent. 

  1. Consider a Protective Order:

While most orders of protection are intended to protect a victim from physical abuse, a court will issue one for emotional abuse under certain circumstances. You can even file the necessary documents AND obtain a protective order without providing notice to your spouse, if you are in an emergency situation. The information that you have prepared under Tip #2 above will be very important as support for your petition. If the judge grants your request, your spouse could face serious sanctions for violating the terms of a protective order.

  1. Rely on Your Texas Contested Divorce Lawyer to Guide You Through the Process

It is always critical to retain experienced legal counsel to assist with the divorce process, but it is even more critical to have an attorney on your side when you are the target of emotional abuse. To learn how we can help with your case and protect you from mistreatment, please contact The Ramos Law Group, PLLC. We can schedule a consultation with a skilled contested divorce lawyer who can advise you on how to proceed.

Last Updated on January 18, 2021 by Mary E. Ramos

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Mary E. Ramos

Mary E. Ramos is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She is recognized and respected throughout the Houston legal community for dedication in effectively representing clients’ rights and interests. Mary understands the emotional side of divorce and brings a special compassion to each and every case.

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