What Is Considered Verbal Harassment in a Divorce in California?

By Jim Thomas

Words can injure, sometimes in serious ways. California law allows a spouse going through a divorce to have some protection from verbal abuse. The definition of harassment and verbal abuse is spelled out clearly in the California statute 527.6. If you are being verbally harassed, you have the right to petition the court for a restraining order to protect you and your children.

Words can injure, sometimes in serious ways. California law allows a spouse going through a divorce to have some protection from verbal abuse. The definition of harassment and verbal abuse is spelled out clearly in the California statute 527.6. If you are being verbally harassed, you have the right to petition the court for a restraining order to protect you and your children.

Harassment

California statute 527.6 defines harassment as "unlawful violence, a credible threat of violence, or a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person that seriously alarms, annoys, or harasses the person, and that serves no legitimate purpose." The conduct by the abuser must "cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and must actually cause substantial emotional distress..."

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Verbal Abuse

As California law makes clear, domestic abuse can be verbal, emotional or psychological in addition to being physical. Such abuse can take the form of stalking, phone calls intended to frighten you, threats of violence, letters or emails that annoy or intimidate you, bullying, name-calling, insults and various other methods of exerting control and power over you.

Restraining Orders

If you are verbally abused by your spouse, you can file for a domestic violence protective order from the court that requires him to keep his distance from you and your children. As the Divorce Law Firm website states, in a normal divorce proceeding, you can't make your spouse leave the house. But since verbal abuse is considered a form of domestic violence, a protective order may be granted that requires him to move out.

Considerations

Various behaviors by a spouse or by someone you might be dating may be indicators of verbal abuse, according to the Los Angeles-based Stolar someone who wants to control your behavior and actions; someone who makes you feel guilty, anxious or afraid; someone who calls you names and makes you feel inferior; someone who tries to limit your contact with family and friends, you are with a potential or actual verbal abuser. This type of behavior often leads to physical and sexual abuse.

Divorce Proceedings

DivorceLawFirms.com recommends you file for a contested divorce rather than a no-fault divorce when you are the victim of verbal abuse. A no-fault divorce requires you to collaborate or mediate with your abusive spouse to work out the terms of your divorce, and such close contact may lead to further abuse. Verbal abuse, especially if directed toward your kids, is an important consideration in child custody hearings, and such evidence might limit your husband's access to the children after the divorce.

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What Is Considered Verbal Abuse & Harassment From a Divorced Spouse?

References

Related articles

California Law on Harassment While Filing for Divorce

Divorce can resolve struggles in a marriage, but the divorce process sometimes makes a situation worse before it gets better. When one spouse files for a divorce, the other may begin harassing the filing spouse with threats, constant phone calls or even violence. Under certain circumstances, California allows either spouse to obtain a restraining order to provide protection against the other spouse's harassing behavior.

Divorce Law in Florida & Restraining Orders

Even if your divorce is amicable, it can be a heart-wrenching process. If you have been a victim of domestic violence as well, the divorce process can be fraught with fear. Florida offers legal protection in the form of a restraining order, called an injunction for protection in the Sunshine State. If your spouse has been violent or abusive, or you have reasonable fear for your safety, you can ask the court for a temporary injunction for 15 days. The court will then schedule a hearing where you can ask for a final injunction that can last for up to a year.

Legal Protections for the Elderly

In 2010, 13 percent of the American population was 65 years of age or older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Over the next two decades, the number of U.S. citizens older than age 64 will double. If you are concerned about an elderly friend or relative who may be suffering from abuse or exploitation, there are many resources that you can access to learn more about legal protections for him.

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