Though more difficult to identify than other forms of intimate partner violence (IPV) such as physical abuse, dealing with divorce and emotional abuse is just as challenging and painful. 

Emotional or mental abuse is a tactic used by abusers in order to control and manipulate their partner. It often leads to the victim feeling hopeless, guilty, and ashamed. 

Emotional abuse can take many forms including gaslighting, extreme jealousy, excessive judgment, isolating the victim, or making them feel fearful. So what are the options available for a spouse in an emotionally abusive marriage? Is mental abuse grounds for divorce? Find out your options by continuing to read our blog post below. 

Is Mental Abuse Grounds for Divorce?

Because all 50 states now allow for “no-fault” divorces, you don’t need to prove emotional abuse in order to get a divorce.


Child Custody

One reason to raise the issue of emotional or verbal abuse during the divorce process is because it can affect child custody outcomes. 

It is the court’s obligation to determine a custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interest. If one spouse is abusive, even if that abuse has only been directed against their partner and not the children, it seriously damages their chance to gain custody. 

Thus you can use your spouse’s emotional abuse in court to bolster your case for greater child custody rights. 


Documenting Emotional Abuse

mental abuse divorce attorneys alameda

The scars of emotional abuse, while long-lasting, are not physical, and this means it is especially important to document instances of emotional abuse as they happen. In order to use your abuse in support of your case in court, thorough documentation is crucial. 

You can save or document messages, phone calls, voicemails, emails, and abusive conversations with your spouse. Later you can present these records to a judge to bolster your custody case. 


Restraining Orders

Whether before or during the process of a divorce, a restraining order can help a victim regain their peace of mind and personal safety by prohibiting contact with their abuser. 

For example, you may try to get a temporary restraining order (TRO) to be enacted for the duration of your divorce proceeding. You can get a TRO for experiencing domestic violence (DV), stalking, property damage, threats, and in states like California, if your “mental or emotional calm” have been disturbed by your abuser. 

California restraining orders are also commonly known as CLETS orders, because they are entered into the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. This is a network that interfaces with other databases such as those run by the FBI and DMV. 


Divorcing With Silva & Associates

Getting a divorce is especially complicated and difficult if you are dealing with emotional abuse. You will want to work with an experienced family law firm that can help you through the sometimes long and arduous divorce process. 

Silva & Associates has years of experience working on contentious divorces in the Bay Area. Our team knows how to handle restraining orders and custody disputes, so we can help you every step of the way. Contact us today by filling out the form below if you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you with your divorce and emotional abuse. 



  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.