Colorado, like most states, has a no-fault divorce law that means you do not have to prove a fault ground to get divorced. You do not have to prove that your partner was mentally or physically cruel to you, for example, to have a judge grant a divorce decree. It may be necessary to prove cruelty, however, for purposes such as child custody in Fort Collins. Here’s how to effectively prove mental or physical cruelty in a divorce case in Colorado.
What Is Mental and Physical Cruelty?
First, find out how the law defines mental and physical cruelty. In some jurisdictions, cruelty is referred to as “cruel and inhumane treatment” or “extreme cruelty.” The definition is a pattern of conduct that results in a situation that makes it unsafe or unreasonable for the parties to continue to be married. The situation could be as minor as a repeated annoyance or as severe as abuse. If it creates an unhealthy or improper environment for the spouse or child, it can constitute cruelty.
In general, cruelty does not only mean being disagreeable or mean to one another. It refers to the infliction of unnecessary physical or emotional pain by one spouse against the other. Mental cruelty is a broad term that can refer to many different forms of verbal, emotional, mental and psychological abuse. Physical cruelty is physical pain or harm, including physical abuse, beatings or violence. Both types of cruelty are also referred to as domestic violence.
When Would You Need to Prove Mental or Physical Cruelty in a Divorce?
Before Colorado became a no-fault divorce state, the party filing for divorce had to prove fault for a dissolution of marriage. One of the potential grounds for a fault divorce was cruelty. The law did not force someone to stay in a marriage in which he or she was being physically harmed. Today, however, with the no-fault law, it is enough to state that the relationship has been “irretrievably broken” to get divorced.
Although it is not necessary to prove mental or physical cruelty to get a divorce, it may be necessary to prove cruelty for other reasons, such as to argue for sole custody of your children. The courts will take cruelty or domestic violence into consideration when determining the appropriate child custody arrangement. If you can prove mental or physical cruelty, this could help you protect your children from an arrangement that is not in their best interest.
How to Prove Cruelty as a Factor in Your Colorado Divorce Case
If you need to prove that your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is guilty of mental and/or physical cruelty, contact a divorce lawyer in Fort Collins for legal assistance. This is a delicate matter that can benefit from legal expertise. Your lawyer can help you gather proof of cruelty and present it in a compelling way to the courts. Tips for proving cruelty include:
Document everything, including taking photographs of any physical injuries. Write down a detailed description of each incident, including the date, time and witness names.
Go to a doctor to put physical injuries caused by your spouse on the record. For mental cruelty, visit a therapist or psychologist.
Call the police to report acts of cruelty or violence. Even a domestic violence allegation without a conviction can help you prove cruelty.
Do not record your spouse unless you have their permission to do so. Recording someone without permission will not provide admissible evidence against your spouse.
Request a psychological evaluation. Your lawyer can request that a psychological evaluation be done of your spouse. Be aware, however, that this request often means that you will also be subject to an evaluation.
Call on character witnesses or eyewitnesses. If there is anyone who can attest to your spouse’s mental or physical cruelty, they can testify on your behalf during your divorce case.
An attorney will know exactly what to do to help you prove cruelty in your Colorado divorce case. For more information about a case involving cruelty, abuse or domestic violence, contact the divorce lawyers at The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci to request a consultation.