Proving Harassment in a Divorce

By Jim Thomas

Divorce isn't pleasant under the best of circumstances. However, when you are being harassed by your soon-to-be ex-spouse, it can be truly frightening. Harassment can take many forms. Your spouse might threaten, stalk or assault you. He might even harass your children. In order to protect yourself and perhaps your kids as well, you can petition the court for a Harassment Restraining Order, or HRO, to protect you from such behavior and threats while the divorce proceeds.

Harassment vs Protective Orders

If you are the victim of domestic abuse during your divorce, you can file for a protective order to keep you spouse away from you. Such a protective order can include temporary custody and child support. However, you need to demonstrate to the court that your spouse has physically harmed you, inflicted imminent fear of physical harm or committed sexual misconduct. The standard for proving harassment is not as strict. One act of physical violence or sexual assault is sufficient grounds for a harassment order. So are any acts, words or gestures that occur on two separate days, actions that cause or are intended to cause a substantial adverse effect upon your safety, security or privacy. So if your husband shows up at your doorstep on two occasions and makes vile threats against you, it might be sufficient for an HRO.

Usefulness

An HRO can be both a tactical and practical tool during a divorce. As a practical tool, it can give you and your children some peace of mind and protection from a spouse who exhibits threatening behavior toward you, especially since you can file for an HRO on behalf of the children if your spouse has been harassing them too. As a tactical matter, an HRO can be used as evidence that your spouse has harassed or been a threat to you or the children. This can bolster your divorce case if you are attempting to obtain sole custody of the children.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Filing for an HRO

You must file for an HRO where you reside or where the harassing incidents occurred. Usually, this will be at the same county court where you filed for divorce. Your petition must detail the grounds for harassment. For example, if your spouse has posted provocative pictures of you on the Internet to embarrass you, include the incident in your petition. If your spouse accosts you at public events in a menacing manner, include this incident in your petition. If your spouse threatens to wreck your car, destroy your child's new bike or repeatedly calls in the middle of the night to curse at you, all of these incidents should be included.

Judicial Process

If you file an HRO in Minnesota, for example, a judge will read your petition and either dismiss the petition, deny a temporary approval of the HRO but allow you to request a hearing on the matter, or grant the HRO, which takes effect immediately and lasts for two years. In California, a judge will look at your HRO request within 24 hours and decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order. If so, a court hearing will be held in about three weeks to hear evidence and rule on the petition. If the HRO is granted, it remains in effect for up to five years.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
If I Drop a PFA, Is the Custody in Effect?

References

Related articles

Divorce in New York City Based on Adultery

In New York state, adultery – which is defined as one spouse having sex with someone else while married, without the consent of the other spouse – can be listed as a reason for you to file for divorce. However, if adultery is the cause of your divorce, you have the option of filing for divorce based on adultery or on no-fault grounds; the results of your divorce will likely be similar, either way.

What Is Considered Verbal Harassment in a Divorce in California?

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.

How Long Does it Take for a Restraining Order in California?

California is one of a handful of states that provide for automatic temporary restraining orders, or ATROs, during divorce proceedings. If you're the spouse who initiates the divorce, the order restrains you from taking certain actions as soon as you file. The ATRO restrains your spouse as soon as he's served with your divorce documents.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

The Effect of an Order of Protection on Divorce Proceedings in Arizona

In Arizona, an order of protection offers protection from family members, including spouses, who have threatened or ...

Divorce Law for Domestic Violence in Tennessee

Divorce is rarely easy, but victims of domestic violence face an especially difficult process since the victim must ...

How to Divorce Someone With a Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Even mentally healthy individuals might feel some sense of rejection when they learn their spouses want a divorce. ...

Pennsylvania Divorce Law & Injunctions

An injunction is a court order that stops the parties to a lawsuit from taking matters into their own hands. ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED