Does Verbal or Emotional Abuse Matter in My Divorce?

couple arguing

Cruelty in a marriage, including verbal or emotional abuse, should not be tolerated. Cruelty is recognized as grounds for divorce in Texas and can adversely affect the terms of the divorce for the abusive spouse.

At Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., our Austin divorce attorneys have extensive experience helping people in abusive marriages make the transition to better lives. For 60 years, the dedicated attorneys at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey have stood up for people who were facing difficult situations. Speak to an attorney about how we can protect your interests and obtain a divorce order that helps to prevent future problems for you.

Call us today for a confidential consultation and learn how one of our Austin, TX, divorce lawyers can help you.

Understanding the Definition of Cruelty in Texas Divorce Cases

Texas is a no-fault divorce state, meaning a couple that agrees to end their marriage can do so without showing wrongdoing on the part of either spouse. However, in a contested divorce, the Texas Family Code establishes several grounds that a family court judge may use to grant a divorce to a petitioning spouse over the objections of the other.

Among the grounds for divorce in Texas is cruelty. “The court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse is guilty of cruel treatment toward the complaining spouse of a nature that renders further living together insupportable,” says Texas Family Code Ann. § 6.002.

Texas law does not further define cruelty in a marriage. But in legal matters, it is generally taken to mean the intentional and malicious infliction of physical or psychological pain on another person.

Verbal abuse is a type of emotional abuse, which is the intentional and malicious infliction of psychological pain. Psychological abuse in a marriage may take several forms, including:

  • Insults, ridicule, or denigration
  • Name-calling
  • Intimidation
  • Public shaming or humiliation
  • Withholding affection
  • Cutting off communications
  • Isolation from family or friends
  • Controlling access to money or employment
  • Demanding to know passwords to phone, computer, email, and social media accounts
  • Trying to convince the target that their memories or thoughts are incorrect
  • Intimidation or causing fear
  • Threats of physical harm, including self-harm
  • Harassment or stalking

Verbal abuse may be characterized by continual shouting or vulgar or profane language directed at the person who is the target of abuse.

Consequences of Verbal and Emotional Abuse in a Texas Divorce

A party petitioning for divorce in Texas who proves that their spouse has engaged in verbal or other emotional abuse toward them will likely be granted a divorce. But there is more to a divorce than the dissolution of marriage. Divorce also splits up a family if there are children. In many cases, divorce creates financial challenges for each spouse. It is especially hard on women and older people who must suddenly live on a single income.

As your divorce attorneys, Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey will fight to make sure the details of your divorce decree meet your needs. We will protect your rights and financial interests and look out for the best interests of any underage children you and your spouse share.

In a contested divorce with proven allegations of emotional abuse or other cruelty, courts are often more receptive to the abused spouse’s demands for primary custody of children as well as a greater share of marital property.

A spouse subjected to psychological abuse or trauma may be eligible for spousal maintenance (alimony) if they will have a financial need following the divorce or if:

  • The abusive spouse from whom alimony is sought committed an act of family violence – such as making a threat that reasonably places the target of the threat in fear of imminent physical harm – within two years of the divorce petition.
  • The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability resulting from the trauma of emotional abuse during the marriage.

How to Prove Emotional Abuse in Your Texas Divorce

We will work with you to gather evidence and make a persuasive presentation that proves to the court that you have suffered emotional abuse at the hands of your spouse. The evidence may include the following:

  • Emails, texts, social media posts or private messages, handwritten or typed material with abusive messages
  • Witness accounts of your spouse’s abusive behavior toward you
  • Friends’ and families’ accounts of changes in your mood, manner, and personality as a result of abuse
  • Contents of previous legal complaints you have filed against your spouse, such as a petition for a protective order
  • Mental health evaluations or diagnoses, such as for symptoms of depression that you have experienced as a result of the abuse you have endured.

If you are considering or preparing for a divorce and your spouse continues to subject you to verbal or other emotional abuse, you should keep a log of each incident and save copies, recordings, and screenshots of material that supports your claim.

If you engage Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, we can represent and advise you of the legal options and strategies available for victims of verbal and emotional abuse in Texas divorce cases. In addition to handling your divorce, we will help you obtain a restraining order, which can be written to order an abuser not to contact you and to stay away from you, your family, your home, your workplace, and your children’s daycare or school.

Talk to Seasoned Family Lawyer in Austin, TX Today

When you are being subjected to emotional abuse, your well-being and your family’s future are on the line. You need the most reputable, knowledgeable, and dedicated legal counsel representing your interests.

The Austin divorce lawyers at Minton, Bassett, Flores & Carsey, P.C., understand the emotional and financial impact that separation and divorce can have on your life. We will guide you through the process of getting a divorce in Texas and will protect you and your interests at every step.

We have served clients throughout the Austin vicinity for 60 years, including in Travis, Hays, and Williamson counties. Contact us today for your initial and confidential consultation with a knowledgeable and dedicated Texas divorce attorney.

Renowned legal expert with significant experience in Civil Law, Criminal Defense, and Family Law. Graduate of The University of Texas School of Law, and admitted to the bar in Texas and U.S. District Court Western District of Texas. Active member of esteemed legal associations including the Texas Bar Association and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Association.